Another dark chapter has befallen the local football fraternity following the untimely death of former Young Ones Football Club hard-galloping no-nonsense forward Harold Olivier, better known as ‘Oorlog’ amongst his teammates.
The Rehoboth-born lad died in Windhoek last week after losing a marathon battle with chronic diabetes. ‘Oorlog’ will be remembered as amongst the most feared strikers during the transformation of domestic football, subsequently leading to the unavoidable birth of the rebel Namibia Super Soccer League (NSSL) in the mid-80’s.
The departed lethal goal-poacher formed a deadly striking partnership with the equally dangerous Jacobus ‘Kosie’ Springbok in the Kings at Night’s devastating firing line.
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sport feature, Tales of the Legends, featuring our sport heroes and heroines, past and present, New Era Sport pays a fitting tribute to Harold ‘Oorlog’ Olivier.
WINDHOEK - A product of the now defunct exciting Khomasdal outfit Thistles Football Club, former Young Ones FC mentor Edward ‘Nose’ Morgenroth was truly the unheralded coach in the business of domestic football in the 1980’s when Young Ones reigned supreme.
‘Nose’ as the uncompromising disciplinarian was known in football circles possessed that rare ability to get the best out of any footballer including those with limited ability and talent.
A no-nonsense steward, ‘Nose’ guided Young Ones to promotion to the Central Football Association division one league and transfromed Young Ones into one of the most feared campaigners as he single-handedly turned his raw but highly talented young brigade into a formidable outfit with their much adored brand of carpet football – much to the delight and envy of every football loving soul.
One such athlete who excelled beyond expectation under the tutorship of ‘Nose’ was former Flames and Young Ones FC burly striker Harold ‘Oorlog’ Olivier.
The latter was your typical old-fashioned centre forward possessing the uncanny knack of giving opposing defenders a torrid time with his aerial prowess, wholly complemented by his robust physical presence and a competitive spirit to boot.
The nickname ‘Oorlog’ simply menas ‘war’ in the Queen’s tongue. It was derived from his uncompromising competitive spirit on the playing field terrorizing his markers with amazing speed, strength, canon-like shots whilst his aerial prowess propelled him to score most of his career goals with powerful headers.
‘Oorlog’ was born on November 22, 1962 in Rehoboth, 90 kilometres south of Windhoek. His genes dictated that he would be a noted athlete. After all, sisters Francis, Caina (late), Elma, Mildred and Mara all counted amongst the finest netballers in the country, whilst Elma and Mildred represented their native land at numerous high-profile international gatherings.
Even though one of the most famous footballers to have emerged from that neck of the woods was without a shadwo of doubt the late former Orlando Pirates midfield genius Brian Greaves, ‘Oorlog’ was held in high esteem throughout the town of Rehoboth where he will not only be remembered for his exploits on the football pitch, but as a true ambassador for the town of Rehoboth and Namibian football in general.
Like any other young boy in the neighbourhood, ‘Oorlog’ started kicking a ball at a very tender age and would play football at any available time, after school and during weekends with some of his boyhood buddies.
As an energetic young boy, ‘Oorlog’ was not restricted to the beautiful game alone and would also try his hand at athletics where he excelled in the short sprints. He also played rugby at the revered Dr Lemmer High School.
Amongst his teammates were Olaaits Olivier, Putzy Groenewald, Johnny Gertze, Henry van Wyk and Dawie Arendse to name a few. The football-crazy youngsters became founder members of Flames FC, a club that started life as Hotspurs FC until disaster struck.
The football club suffered a serious setback when the house in which the team’s playing gear was kept caught fire destroying everything. The boys were not to be distracted and resolved to restart but decided to rename the club Flames, in remembrance of the fire.
“We joined the highly competitive Rehoboth Football League competing against local teams such as Crusaders, Spurs and other teams from neighbouring Groot Aub,” ‘Oorlog’ had recalled.
Flames became a major force to be reckoned with and went on to win several knockout tourneys in Rehoboth and its surrounding villages Schlip and Goot Aub in particular. His exploits on the football pitch caught the eye of his homeboy Brian Greaves who persuaded him to join Katutura giants Orlando Pirates.
After a brief spell with the Ghosts, ‘Oorlog’ retreated to his beloved Flames and continued to bamboozle defenders before Young Ones came knocking on the door for his signature.
He eventually joined forces with the star-studded Khomasdal outfit. ‘Oorlog’ immediately knuckled down to some serious business forming a telepathic partnership with the wide-awake Lance ‘Jakkals’ Willemse in the ‘Kings at Night’ firing line.
“We had a decent pool of highly gifted, committed, well-disciplined athletes in that team with two of the best coaches in the business. ‘Nose’ was the head coach, ably assisted by Boet Mathews, who was by a mile the most accomplished midfielder of his generation.”
In his own words, ‘Nose’ was an uncompromising disciplinarian who put lots of emphasis on fitness and transition awareness, while Boet’s tactical acumen was something out of the ordinary. “That made Young Ones unstoppable,” recalled ‘Oorlog’ with a twinkle in his eyes.
‘Oorlog’ enjoyed great success with Young Ones and became a valuable squad member of the ‘Kings at Night’ as the Khomasdalers swept their opponents aside by winning both the prestigious Metropolitan and Mainstay Cups in back-to-back seasons claiming the scalps of Katutura giants African Stars and Chelsea in the final, respectively.
He also had a taste of international football with his beloved Young Ones in the now defunct Mandela Cup – playing in African countries Lesotho and Ethiopia.
The ‘Reho Bomber’ also featured as guest player for African Stars when the Katutura glamour football club hosted the visiting South African professional club Bush Bucks at the packed-to-rafters Katutura Stadium in 1986.
Sadly, his flourishing football career came to an abrupt end via a niggling knee injury at the age of 35, but ‘Oorlog’ had no regrets about his involvement with the beautiful game.
“I really enjoyed playing football because mingling freely with people from all walks of life was an experience on its own. We had a great team that tormented opponents at will, especially during night games because we had the privilege of conducting our training sessions at night under floodlights while our competitors trained in the afternoons.”
He admitted that Black Africa was their nemesis because of their never-say-die attitude with Lucky Boostander in their armoury. “I easily regarded Lucky as doubtlesly the most complete footballer at the time.”
“Oorlog’ also rated former striking partner Lance ‘Jakkals’ Willemse and Joseph ‘Draaitjies’ Martin as the best footballers of his generation. ‘Oorlog’ will be laid to rest tomorrow morning in Windhoek. May his soul rest in peace in one piece.