Legends Corner: Kurra recalls glory days with Swallows
IF THERE is a famous traffic officer in Polokwane it should be William Makhura.
The former Moroka Swallows midfielder is employed by the Limpopo department of roads and transport as a traffic officer.
He just loves his job and appreciates the recognition he always receives from motorists who still recognise him.
"Kurra Makhura!", "The great Makhura!" These are some of the reactions he gets from motorists almost on a daily basis on the roads.
"Kurra Makhura" was his famous sobriquet during his spell at the Beautiful Birds in the '80s.
Swallows' devotees also nicknamed the burly Makhura "Sneezing Machine".
The monicker was befitting considering Makhura's adeptness at ripping opponents' midfielders and defenders to shreds almost at will.
He also had the pace and a powerful right foot. He was a complete player.
This week, the Polokwane-based ex-player opened up to Sowetan and spoke about a variety of issues, including his journey to becoming one of the respected footballers in the local game and life after football.
MCELWA NCHABELENG: You are now 56 years old - and how do you find life after football?
WILLIAM MAKHURA: There is life outside football and I enjoy life to the fullest. I remain humble to people and I never complain when people stop me in the streets or at the malls to engage me in football topics. That's how I am.
MN: We are told that you don't issue traffic fines to motorists who speak nice about you as a footballer even if they disobey the rules of the road.
WM: (Laughing) There is no truth in that because when it comes to my work, I fine everybody, even if they are my fans. In fact, the majority of those I have fined turned out to be my fans.
MN: How did you join Swallows?
WM: It was back in 1984 after I left Benoni United. Swallows were very interested in me after my exploits at United and interestingly they were a team I dreamt of playing for.
It was a dream come true for me. I played for them until I hung up my boots in 1990. It was a memorable six years.
MN: How did you join United?
WM: The guys from United used to attend some of our matches at Seshego Stonebreakers and they knew what I can do on the pitch. They were at the Seshego Stadium when we beat Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 in the Champ of Champs in 1978. They were impressed with what they saw. I was on top of my game in that match and we were inspired by the fact that we were playing against a team as big as Chiefs.
They recruited me with Dance Malete, (Kagiso) "Zero My Hero" Mogale and Johannes Mahlaba in 1980.
MN: Which game stands out for you at United?
WM: Let me tell you about the goal I scored in a league match against Chiefs. I scored from a close range from a square pass and Peter Bala'c did nothing to save it. He just stood still and watched the ball hit the back of the net. The match ended in a 1-all draw and we earned a vital point.
MN: At Swallows?
WM: I scored a beauty after a solo effort against Jomo Cosmos in a replay of the Mainstay Cup at Ellis Park Stadium in 1985. I intercepted the ball from the centre and passed it to Thomas Hlongwane who quickly passed back to me to finish the job I'd started. I beat a cluster of midfielders and defenders on my way to score. We won the match 5-3.
MN: Which is your most memorable game at Swallows?
WM: The same match against Cosmos. We were all determined to win the rematch after the first match was abandoned at Volsoorus Stadium after fans invaded the pitch.
We were leading 1-0 through Andries "Chaka Chaka" Mpondo when the match was called off. 'The Godfather" (Mario Tuani, then Swallows coach), teammates and fans gave me fulsome praises after the match.
Just before the final whistle, I stood on top of the ball and the Godfather made a tumble with his glasses on in jubilation and the fans just loved what they saw from me. The Godfather was my best coach.
MN: What was your most embarrassing moment as a professional player?
WM: When we were knocked out in the last-32 stage of the Mainstay Cup by an amateur team from Cape Town. I've forgotten the name of the club and the year but it is good for me that I have forgotten. It was very embarrassing.
MN: Tell us about your first salary at Swallows?
WM: I was paid R450 per month - it was quite a substantial amount of money then. I saved enough to buy a second-hand Mazda 323 cash. The car was worth just over R4,000. I managed my life well with that salary and took care of my family because I was not paying for accommodation. I stayed at the house of one of the club directors in Katlehong.
You can laugh but the R150 a month I earned at Benoni United was also good enough. Remember that I was a teetotaller so I did not spend on alcohol and cigarettes.
MN: How much were your signing-on fees?
WM: It was R250 when I moved to United and R1,000 when I joined Swallows.
MN: When did you hang up your boots?
WM: At the end of 1990 after my six-month loan spell at Pretoria City (who gave birth to SuperSport United).
MN: Do you believe in muthi and did you use it?
WM: Some clubs don't use muthi, others do. They believe muthi will win matches and Swallows are one of those clubs. Though I didn't believe in it, I used it because it was the belief of the club. I believe hard work and commitment, with good coaching, will help clubs succeed, not muthi.
MN: Take us through the rituals at Swallows?
WM: (laughing) I really don't feel comfortable talking about this muthi issue. We had to undergo different rituals before the game.
MN: You were very famous, driving a nice car and surely you were a hit with beautiful women. You had plenty, hey?
WM: No no no! I wasn't a ladies' man. I was just a boy from Seshego and I was in Johannesburg solely to play football. But I must say that I really enjoyed myself in Jozi.