INDUSTRIOUS, MIDFIELD MAESTRO
Birth and roots
Like forward Kelvin Mutale, a fellow Gabon air disaster victim of April 1993 was born in September, so was Derby Makinka, the difference being five years apart in birth – the latter being the older of the two.
Mutale was born on the fourth day of September in 1964 in Kitwe while Makinka would be born five years later on 19 September 1969 in the small mining town of Kalulushi.
Derby was the first born child in a family of seven. He did his Primary education in Kitwe and secondary schooling in Lusaka.
For his early football career, Derby’s trade is traced with an amateur team of Lusaka called Lima Football Club.
No sooner had Profund Warriors technical bench gotten wind of the presence of a rough diamond at Lima FC, than they invited him to join the Pensioners whose name has since changed to NAPSA Stars.
Makinka’s physicality and energy was unrivalled; he defended and attacked for the entire match and always appeared to be where the ball was – hustling and bustling, puffing and huffing as he went about performing his duties in central park.
A defensive midfielder par excellence, he was on the cusp of being a world-class midfield general but for the Gabon Air Disaster.
Of indomitable spirit and tireless industry, he seemed to have inexhaustible energy whose lungs appeared to have been made from pure leather and not the soft tissues everyone else’s is made of.
In a word, Makinka was a combative and aggressive midfield governor-general. In this regard, he fell in the same league as midfield-general Jericho Shine (Rhokana United/Nkana Red Devils/Nkana FC and Zambia), midfield-engine-room Jani Simulambo (Green Buffaloes and Zambia), defender-cum-midfielder Kaizer Kalambo (Roan United/Ndola United and Zambia), midfielder-extraordinaire Bright Mangambwa (Nkwazi FC and Zambia) and midfielder-grafter Evans Katebe (Mufulira Wanderers and Zambia).
Having joined Profund Warriors around 1983, Makinka established himself with the Pensioners and became one of the pillars of the team that was plying its trade in the First Division at the time through to 1985.
When Profund won promotion to the Premier League for the first time in 1986.
Come 1987, Profund made their Premier League debut together with Zesco United.
Makinka’s Warriors, in testing its first ever elite football that season, finished in 10th place on the 14-team log – three places above the relegation borderline.
And during the 1988 season, Makinka and colleagues barely survived relegation as Profund finished in 12th place to condemn Strike Rovers (13th) and Kafue Textiles (14th and basement-finishers) back to Division One.
In Makinka’s third Premier League season in 1989, his team failed to do the escape magic as was the case the previous two terms (1987-1988).
By finishing 13th in 1989, the relegation bell had finally chimed for Makinka and friends at Profund. It was back to the lower tier with the Pensioners who amassed 24 points. Back with Profund to Division One were tail-enders Mutondo Stars who completed the campaign with 21 points in a 3-points-for-a-win awarding system.
And despite having suffered relegation from the Premier league at the end of the 1989 season, Makinka played a larger than-life performance for his side.
It has been recorded in Zambian history that Makinka is the only player since the national Footballer-of-the-year ward was introduced in 1968, to have ever won the prestigious individual award with a team that had been relegated to the lower tier (Division One) that same season. Also, by that honour, he is on record as the only Profund Warriors player to have ever been bestowed with the individual honour to the present.
History will lend us a helping hand in with contention that Derby is the only player to have ever won the Zambian Footballer-of-the-Year accolade with a confirmed relegated team.
When the 1968 inaugural winner Godfrey Chitalu scooped the individual award, his side Kitwe United finished 4th on the 14-team log behind champions Kabwe Warriors, runners-up Ndola United and third-placed Mufulira Wanderers.
And when the goal-king won the coveted individual award for the second time in three years, still as a United boy in 1970, the Kitwe side finished in the top 6 bracket.
Elsewhere, when Chitalu won the award three times in the 1970s with Kabwe Warriors, the men in hallowed blue finished in the top 5 in the top-flight in 1972 (champions), 1978 (fifth-placed) and 1979 (third-placed).
Again, when Warriors’ duo of Boniface Simutowe and Richard Stephenson were the winners had won the award earlier in 1969 and 1971, their team runners-up and winners respectively.
Jack Chanda, another Warriors’ winner in 1985, won the honour against the backdrop of his team finishing in 7th place in the 12-team league.
And Maybin M’gaiwa, the last Warriors player to win the award, won it in exceptional circumstances as his team was playing in Division One – the one and only unique case in Zambian football.
If there ever was a time that Derby carried his team on his broad shoulders almost singlehandedly, it was during the 1990 BP Challenge Cup (BP Top 8 Cup) final with some sterling display, be it as it may that Profund were beaten 2-0 by Power Dynamos in a final played at Lusaka’s Independence Stadium on September that year. He was the guiding light from the first round through to the final itself, scoring crucial goals along the way.
Zambia internationals Wisdom Chansa and Pearson Mwanza were the winners’ goal-scorers on the afternoon to spoil Makinka’s day after doing some larger-than-life, exceptional the Pensioners from the first round of the tournament through to the final itself.
Elsewhere, on four occasions Wanderers’ players – Dickson Makwaza (1973), Ashious Melu (1983 and 1987), Kalusha Bwalya (1984) and Johnson Bwalya (1986) have won the Zambian Footballer-of-the-Year award – their team has finished in the top five positions, with the highest finish having been second in 1973 and 1984.
On the four occasions Rhokana United (Nkana FC) players have been beneficiaries of the Zambia Footballer-of-the-Year award in 1974, 1990, 1992, 2014 – the 12-time league champions have finished in the top six bracket.
In when Bernard Chanda scooped the award in 1974, Rhokana United, as Nkana were known at the time, they finished in sixth place while in 1990, they were champions when Gibby Mbasela was crowned Zambia’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
When defender Eston Mulenga unanimously won the individual honour in 1992, award, Nkana were the Zambian Premier League winners.
And when the man they fondly call Sate-Sate, his real name Ronald Kampamba was voted national Footballer-of-the-Year in 2014, Nkana were fourth finishers on the 16-team log, with Zesco United as the champions.
In 1975 and 1980 when defenders Edwin Mbaso and Kaizer Kalambo were voted Zambia’s Best Footballers respectively, their team Ndola United were 3rd and 13th on the table of the elitists in that order.
Elsewhere, Mufulira Blackpool were 9th-placed in 1976 when their star player Alex “Computer” Chola claimed the most prized individual football award.
And when Roan United’s Vincent Chileshe became the first goalkeeper to scoop the Zambia Footballer-of-the-Year in 1977, his team were 7th finishers on the table of 14 teams.