WINDHOEK – Way back in 1981, almost three and half decades ago, the usually laid back enclave Orkney, holed up in Western Transvaal, with her vast open spaces meandering lazily through the town, local organizers packed away their trade tools to welcome the star-studded amateurs from then South West Africa (SWA) Currie Cup Football team for the annual showpiece.
The South African Provincial yearly football bonanza was considered the ultimate gathering attracting the crème de la crème of footballers from that neck of woods and any footballer worth their salt cherished the platform to showcase their football credentials.
Orkney was a town of pioneering spirits and in a time when the entire Western Transvaal was pock-marked with abandoned gold, a determined Scottish dude, going by the name of Simon Fraser, a native of the Orkney Islands off the Northern coast of Scotland, persevered bringing the ore to the surface single handedly in a wheelbarrow.
The mine went onto grow from humble beginnings into the biggest in the world. The Currie Cup Competition was inaugurated towards the end of the second last century serving as an outstanding gathering for amateur footballers from all SA provinces including SWA (Namibia). The annual tourney started off with six provinces but due to the increase in popularity, the number of participating associations ballooned to 16 in the intervening years. Fronting the visiting SWA amateurs was a giant fellow in the shape of Klaus Hubner.
The latter was tasked to guard the sticks after first choice goalkeeper Asaria Ndjiva Kuami got injured in the opening match for Vic Lovell’s mentored side. He acquitted himself excellently under trying circumstances after he was thrown into the deep end.
Born in Namibia’s commercial capital Windhoek on the 31st of August 1951, Klaus went onto establish himself as one of the finest shot stoppers in the history of domestic topflight league football.
His arrival on the big stage coincided with the unavoidable amalgamation of multi-racial football in then apartheid South West Africa (SWA) in 1977. “I just came back from the United Kingdom (UK) where I finished studying Optometrist in London. Fittingly, I rejoined my former team Deutscher Turn Sport Vereinen (DTS) and domestic football was taking a new shape,” recalls Klaus.
The multi-talented burly goalie started his football career at the football obsessed German school Deutscher Horere Privat Schule (DHPS). He also excelled in swimming, athletics (shot put, high jump & long jump).
Unlike in the majority of white schools across the country where the oval ball game of rugby reigned supreme – football enjoyed preference in most German schools.
DHPS assembled a strong squad of learners but the country’s football governing body (SWAFA) would not allow the school going boys to compete against teams outside the confine of their designated perimeters.
In their quest to play competitive football, the football crazy boys resolved to form a Mannschaft consisting of learners from DHPS – hence the inevitable birth of DTS FC.
In the meantime, Klaus would tumble national records at the slightest provocation in the swimming pool, propelling him to earn national colours. He was also capped for the national navy football team during his two-year stint in the army.
Whilst in London, Klaus was selected for the Southern English University football team rewarding his inclusion with breathtaking performances between the sticks.
“In fact, I wanted to become a professional footballer but when I told my old man about my desire, without hesitation he gave me a whale of a ‘klap’ telling me in no uncertain terms to stick to my studies.”
The amalgamation of multi-racial football dwarfed DTS to the role of perennial relegation candidates, escaping the dreaded relegation by the skin of their teeth, year in and year out.
And even though the squad was of fairly average footballers, this did not stop national selectors to notice Klaus’ astonishing exploits between the sticks.
The giant imposing goalie was deservedly called up to the SWA Currie Cup team in 1978 and was to feature in two more Currie Cu teams in 1980 and 1981 respectively.
Sadly, he suffered a neck injury on the training field – missing the rest of the tournament on his provincial debut for the SWA Invitational side in 1978. He also had a taste of international club football when he featured for the now defunct Windhoek City in South Africa’s second tier semiprofessional football league.
“That was during one of my long holidays back home from the university. I really enjoyed my three months spell win the Citizens.“It was a great experience rubbing shoulders with great players as it gifted me pleasure and confidence playing against the likes of Lusitano, Jewish Guild, Boksburg United, Corinthians, Bloemfontein City and all those great teams.
Klaus served on the Central District Football Association (CDFA) Executive Committee and played an instrumental role in overseeing transformation in domestic football.
He is also accredited for having saved the life of match official Martin Kehrmann, risking his own life shielding the cornered Kehrman from knife-wielding Pirates (Dolam) angry players.
The aggrieved footballers were vying for Kherman’s blood during an ill-fated cup match against Black Africa at the Windhoek show grounds.
His imposing presence between the sticks earned him admiration amongst local football followers and would never forget that freezing night at the Windhoek stadium when underdogs DTS defied the odds to beat African Stars in the final of the annual CDFA League Cup in 1980. The unfashionable DTS side won 1-0 through Ray Collins lone strike.
Apart from playing a pivotal role between the sticks, stopping the Reds’ marauding strikers on that particular night – Klaus endured the wrath of the Reds’ agitated army of supporters as he employed time wasting delaying tactics.
The big frame goalie would desperately take ages to collect stray balls whenever the ball went out of touch – much to the chagrin of Stars playing personnel.
Klaus called time on flourishing playing days in 1993 but still holds fond memories of his football career.
“What comes to mind when replaying the good old days in my mind is our countless fiercely contested derbies with bitter rivals SKW. I must also mention that teams like Sparta, African Stars and Black Africa were phenomenal opponents who made football interesting.”