THE echoes of a fierce fan base that loved and worshipped the community team, Ziscosteel Football Club, or the intimidation of the elitist that came for the sport of cycling in the now dilapidated and crumbling Torwood stadium in Redcliff, have faded into a past too painful to recall for many.
BY JOHN MOKWETSI
The stadium no longer stands like a colossus whose self-importance was cultivated by the great personalities that passed through it. Torwood Stadium now stands humbled — a white elephant that has become an eyesore and embarrassment to the residents of Redcliff.
Torwood is situated in Redcliff.
Redcliff — known the world over for its iron ore rich legacy — is off the main Harare-Bulawayo road 10km from Kwekwe. The town is about 220km south west of the capital, Harare.
Human waste litters the changing rooms that football legends like Moses Chunga, James Takavada and the late Paul Gundani once used at Torwood.
What were once functioning showers have now been replaced by vandalised steel pipes and rust to those that survived years of neglect and abuse.
The crumbling walls and broken window panes are now nothing more than a ghostly silhouette of some previous existence.
The only furniture in the room is the knee level brickwork that used to support wooden benches, which sportspersons used to sit on as they strategised their games.
Nelson Phiri of Torwood remembers nostalgically: “Our fathers never used to miss a match. By 10am, Torwood Stadium would have been full and the singing deafening. It was a vibrant stadium that also reflected on our prosperity as a community.
“It showed the world of football that we could prosper where many had failed. Ziscosteel used to oil this area — differentiating us from others who did not have a well-maintained sports arena like we had. Now it is just a mass of concrete.”
Where families used to enjoy sporting events together on a normal weekend, used condoms are now strewn everywhere.
The community has long complained about how the terraces have been turned into a brothel of sorts by those committed to debauchery.
Grace Chanetsa paused before she spoke slowly: “Our children do not understand what we used to be.
“What we have now is a sad situation where they witness people using this facility for all anti-social behaviours like prostitution.”
On the walls are inscriptions of advertising, in various shades of fading paint, of services offered by the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Ziscosteel) that range from doorframes to asbestos — telling a story of a brand long disappeared beyond the horizon.
It is a time-warp of long-forgotten activities that now barely lives on even in the memories of the elderly of Redcliff and the towns surrounding the small town.
A resident who grew up in the glamour that glittered in Torwood who refused to be identified, perhaps gives the most graphic picture of a glorious past.
“Growing up in Torwood in the 1980s was a remarkable experience punctuated by an over-arching sense of community. The most outstanding of my experiences was the general cleanliness and sense of belonging that I have not found anywhere else,” he said.
“The lush green lawns were well-maintained and I remember teasing the old men and women who carefully nurtured them and did not entertain anyone walking across.
“The inhabitants were proud of their giant employer, Ziscosteel, and the salaries they were offered were incomparable.
“Children went to schools of their choice because the company could provide.
“Torwood hospital offered exceptional services and many who grew up in those times will remember the squeaky clean walls and toilets.”
The resident spoke of the golf club that was a piece of class that brought the crème de la crème to the vibrant town.
She said tournaments were hosted in Torwood and heralded a parade of flashy top-of-the-range cars that glided majestically on the tarred roads leading to the club.
A hub of activity and always firmly rooted in family, the residents were treated to a host of events throughout the year.
“Who could forget the Mukadota and Family Show which would see crowds converging at the Torwood Stadium to be treated to some good humour from Safirio Madzikatire,” she said.
“The scintillating moves by Katarina the dancer always left the crowds asking for more.”