By Sheldon Hakata
SHABANIE Mine Football Club is arguably one of the most popular clubs in the country and has made the vibrant town of Midlands Province tick.
At the turn of the millennium, Shabanie Mine Football Club illuminated the Premier Soccer League (PSL) when it unleashed a prolific strike force of Thomas ‘Chaurura’ Makwasha and bustling forward Asani ‘War Vet’ Juma.
That fearsome attack force was anchored on a solid midfield marshalled by the artistry of midfield maestro Francis ‘Gweje Gweje’ Chandida and the gritty Max ‘Thula’ Ruza.
At the back, former Warriors no-nonsense defender, Zvenyika ‘Zvee’ Makonese and Smart Muchabaiwa barricaded their goal with a vibrancy that blocked almost everyone from scoring against them.
The period between 2001 and 2005 is regarded as the club’s golden era.
The Midlands side finished in the top eight in 2013, cementing their position as a force to reckon with in local football.
Their peak was in 2001 when they shocked Harare giants Dynamos Football Club one-nil to lift the BP Cup.
Thomas Makwasha netted a thunderous grounder that gave Gift ‘Umbro’ Muzadzi no chance at the National Sports Stadium in the cup final.
And something unique happened in that game — the die-hard DeMbare supporters applauded their opponents.
They finished a surprising third on the log standings that season.
They participated in their maiden Confederations of African Football (CAF) Confederations Cup the following year.
Shabanie Mine FC were, however, relegated from the top flight league in 2006 before making a return in 2010.
This time on a less glamorous note as financial constraints began to bite.
The ensuing years were tumultuous for the Zvishavane side.
They fought relegation twice, in 2011 and 2013, before finally succumbing in 2014.
Before their relegation, Shabanie Mine FC clinched the US$120 00 BancABC Super8 Cup in style.
They upstaged FC Platinum 5-3 in a penalty shoot-out after an exciting 120 minutes of football at Mandava Stadium.
Regulation time could not produce any goals for both teams, even in the 30 minutes of extra time.
Shabanie Mine got their spot kicks through Blessed Mbavarira, Valentine Ndaba, William Ngonya and goalkeeper Victor Twaliki.
Man-of-the-Match skipper Tafadzwa Mombeshora put the icing on the cake with the fifth take after FC Platinum’s Obrey Chirwa missed the fourth penalty.
The team was led by Luke Masomere.
Shabanie had bundled Dynamos out of the tournament in the semis in a 4-3 penalty shoot-out at Barbourfields
Shabanie Mine dominated the BancABC Super 8 Cup individual awards ceremony in Harare.
Sadly, they were relegated from the Premier League that season.
As a result of the relegation, the 2015 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League soccer calendar no longer had a derby.
The relegation of the team had a negative impact on local business which thrived on the huge crowds drawn by the team.
The local famous war cry by Shabanie fans, ‘Shabanie yangu mhai’ ‘died’.
Many of the team’s fans could not come to terms with the fact that their team had been relegated.
The followers had to grapple with the ignominy of life in the lower league.
Because of the relegation, Shabanie Mine FC lost a number of key players, chief among them, Godknows Murwira who went to Dynamos FC as well as Victor Twaliki who joined CAPS United.
Wellington Kamudyariwa joined FC Platinum.
The massive exodus of players left the club with a depleted human resource base.
Financial woes did not help matters.
But the team soldiered on and made a return to the top flight in 2016.
Superstar Zvenyika Makonese, who had stints with various clubs in the South Africa Premier league, returned home to help his former team in the lower division.
Makonese, who had contemplated hanging his boots, vowed to only do so when the team returned to the top flight.
And Bvaru Bvaru, as Shabanie Mine FC are called by their legion of supporters, appear to have regained the form of old. They are currently challenging for honours in the Chibuku Super Cup competition.
They dismissed ZPC Kariba in the first round of the competition one-nil away at Nyamhunga Stadium, Kariba.
The Midlands-based side has always made life difficult for big teams in the league and this season has been no exception.
They played champions CAPS United home and away and all matches ended in draws.
They beat Highlanders and held Dynamos.
Sadly, again the team finds itself fighting relegation.
Will they survive?