MY AMAZULU DEBUT: George Dearnaley

Soccer Business Manager for Media24 and TV pundit
George Dearnaley is just one of many legends of the game produced by AmaZulu. In a special column to mark the
new website launch, George recalls some fond memories from his time at the club…

As a teenager growing up in Montclair, I had been to watch a few NSL matches in the townships in the mid 1980’s, and I remember the big games at Glebe stadium in Umlazi, these were the games that inspired me to become a professional player in South Africa.

I sat on the sidelines watching Durban Bush Bucks versus Moroka Swallows – Professor Ngubane versus Ace Mnini, or AmaZulu versus Orlando Pirates – Archie ‘Juluka’ Hadebe versus Jomo Sono! These matches were unbelievable. And as a little white guy I got to sit right near the touchline watching the stars in action.

In 1986 I trained with AmaZulu while I was still in school. Coach Bizzah Dlamini let me train with the team to get experience and I remember being kicked by Jimmy Ormshaw, Ronald ‘Cutter’ Langa and Fred ‘Junior’ Njiyela in training. These lessons helped me as I got older!

After making a name for myself at amateur level in Durban, I decided to try my luck as a pro. I attended pre-season training in 1990 while I was studying at Natal Technikon. After only a few weeks, AmaZulu were scheduled to play their first friendly match of the season against Fairways Stars at Kings Park Rugby stadium (there were no sponsors in those days!) Bizzah was happy with the way I was training and he told me at the beginning of the week that I might start the match.

Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates were scheduled to play the curtain-raiser to our match! I started up front with Owen ‘Ace’ Nzimande in front of a full house – I was so nervous – but ‘Ace’ kept telling me to relax. The team included greats like Muzi ‘Mr House’ Khumalo, Dees Abdul, Archie Hadebe and Special Sithole.

Dees Abdul scored the first goal with a header after only a few minutes and we settled down to play some good soccer. After about 20 minutes, a cross came in from the left – a Special Sithole special! And I managed to get up in front of the defender and glance a header into the net. The crowd went wild and I went even wilder! I had scored on my debut for AmaZulu in front of a capacity crowd in Durban. Dees scored his second of the match just before half time and we cruised through the second half to hold our 3 – nil score.

In the dressing room after the game I was being patted on the back and on the head by a whole lot of people, players, management, security, supporters and even the guys selling the food! I heard them saying something about ‘Mudie’ and ‘Sgebengu’.

When I left the stadium the supporters were hugging me and telling me that I was the new Kevin Mudie – one of my heroes when I used to watch AmaZulu in the 80’s. It was a great start to my love affair with the club.

I only played 2 more matches for Usuthu in 1990 before taking up a scholarship in America but that goal in 1990 in my first match was just a taste of things to come for the supporters of ‘Olumabhesh’ ankone’.

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