George Hill, the Scottish Bomber 1950–2017 … Tribute to departed football icon
History reveals that a significant number of Namibians are very fond of the sacred ‘Haya Water of Moag’, notably in the shape of Scottish Whisky. The close relationship with the Scots appeared to have extended to the football field as well, with some of the country’s finest footballers of years gone having been Scottish descendants, such as former Ramblers Captain Fantastic Ian Wood, aka ‘Woody’ and inspirational playmaker, the late Don Corbett. Talk about the lethal trident of former Windhoek City and Ramblers’ adorable footballers Don Corbett, Ina Wood and George Hill and the picture becomes much clearer about the ties between Namibia and Scotland. Apart from Corbett and Woody, who both made their name in the highly competitive National Football League (NFL) in South Africa’s second tier semi-professional football league in the late 60s until the mid-70s, the soft-spoken Georgie was a crowd favourite with his incredible first touch, vision, amazing passing, sweet left foot and above all, a genuine footballer, whose obvious lack of pace was underplayed by his passion and extremely unbelievable football intelligence. In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sports feature, Tales of the Legends, New Era Sport pays tribute to this unheralded football legend, that has sadly taken a bow from the game of life this week, aged 67. Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa Windhoek-Former Windhoek City and Ramblers mercurial attacking midfielder George Hill was born on August 10, 1950 in Dundee, Scotland and like many youngsters his age he started out with the Dundee United youth football teams from a very tender age before making his professional debut at the fairly young age of 16, while still a young lad at school. A keen golfer and highly gifted cricketer young Georgie excelled in all three sporting codes, as he was virtually born with a silver spoon in his mouth sports-wise, but the football crazy boy resolved to give more attention to the beautiful game of football. After four years playing for the Dundee United first team in the Scottish Professional Football League, the highly skillful midfielder received a tempting offer from the chairman of the now defunct Durban United in South Africa, one Peter Becker. He eventually ventured across the Atlantic Ocean only to resurface on the African continent in 1972. “Durban United used to compete in the highly competitive top tier South African Provincial National Professional Football League (NFL) and we always pitted our strength against equally strong teams, such as Durban City, Cape Town City, Highlands Park, Jewish Guild, Lusitano, Boksburg United and Corinthians,” George recalled during an exclusive interview with New Era Sport in 2012, five years before he sadly met his death. “Football is more than just a game, because I met and made lots of new friends on the football pitch,” he would proclaim.”Some of the blokes that I played against, such as the late Vic Lovell, Johnny Hearns and Tony Colman became great pals of mine in the intervening years.” However, it was not long before the likeable midfield kingpin developed itchy feet and crossed the floor to join forces with neighbours East London United FC after two years in the colours of Durban United. “In those days, football was regarded as a black sport and whenever you bumped into a white guy in the streets and he asked you what you are doing in your pastime and if the response was, ‘I’m playing football’, the immediate reaction would be that you must have taken leave of your senses.” In the meantime, giant goalkeeper, the late Vic Lovell, relocated across the Orange River to what was then South West Africa to join forces with Windhoek City in the NFL second tier football league. Lovell managed to persuade his newfound buddy to try his luck with the Windhoekers in the semi-professional football league after spending two solid years with East London United FC. “In fact, I joined Windhoek City at the time when the club was abuzz with a bunch of great footballers in their armoury. Guys like Siggy Anderson, Ian Wood, Peter Rath, Kendall Carstens, Gernot Ahrens, Ian Buchanan and Ronny Hoole,” recalled George, whose advancing age of 62 at the time belied his boyish looks. During a three-year stint with Citizens, the inspirational Georgie became a vital cog in the team’s machinery, as he freely pulled the strings in the middle of the park becoming a fan favourite in the process, notably with the black folks who were unfortunately prohibited by the racist apartheid laws of the time from mingling freely, let alone play the beautiful game against their white counterparts. Sadly, the team’s wobbling progress in the South African Professional (NFL) second tier league came to an abrupt end with the inevitable introduction of multi-racial football in the then South West Africa in 1977. Together with some of his celebrated teammates, Georgie resolved to form their own team, which they christened City United/Combined Banks Football Club, recruiting a number of footballers of colour, but they encountered considerable difficulties and truly struggled to gel. It was not long before the newly formed outfit unavoidably took the path of the dinosaur – never to reappear again. “What actually happened was simple, the majority of the players came from a professional setup and could not easily adapt to the amateur status and shoddy manner in which the league was administered.” In his own words, the standard and the league set-up were way below what they were used to and as a result, many of the old guard, including Georgie, called it quits, resolving to venture into other sporting disciplines, with golf the ultimate resort for the multi-talented George. . “To be honest, there was a huge difference in techniques; black footballers were naturally talented, but somehow off-the-cuff, or rather instinctive with no definite playing plan. Nevertheless, there were still some magnificent footballers led by Oscar Mengo, Doc Hardley, Kaputji Kuhanga, Ambrossius Vyff and Doc Naobeb – those guys were extraordinary athletes and doubtlessly in their own league,” Georgie noted. Despite all the hiccups, the late Georgie was among a few celebrated footballers to have represented South West Africa (SWA) in the popular annual South African Provincial Currie Cup Tournament in 1979 – two years after the amalgamation of black, brown and white football leagues in 1977. He would still cherish great memories of his days on the football pitch, including the good old days of the fiercely contested derbies between Durban United and Cape Town City at the now demolished Hartleyvale Stadium in the Mother City. “There was always a great atmosphere in that stadium. The stands were always packed to the rafters,” the now departed Georgie remebered with a twinkle of nostalgia in his eyes.
2017-11-03 10:02:30 10 months ago