A chance meeting at Cinderella Night Club turned Kitwe’s well-recognised resident Dennis Peters into a lifelong Power Dynamos Football Club (PDFC) supporter. He was introduced to Bizwell Phiri whose move from Lusaka Tigers brought him to Kitwe where he was quickly introduced to the night club that became the favoured weekend spot for many of the team’s players over many years.
Phiri began an immediate friendship with Peters, he extended an invitation to the next Power Dynamos match, and he instantly struck up friendships with many of the players, among them Alex Chola, Michael Musonda and Peter Kaumba. “Those were the best days of Power Dynamos,” he recalls. “The team was unstoppable. I followed them for many years until the decision was made to fire Guston Mutobo after he won the league in 2000. In protest, I stopped going to matches.”
The relationship between Power Dynamos and its fans has always been a close one. More so than many others in football. Considered the more elitist of Kitwe’s two top clubs, Power Dynamos players socialised in the city center nightspots with legions of fans around them, forming close friendships in the process. Nkana players on the other hand favoured equally popular nightspots but on the other side of town with Rosalinda’s in Buchi and Changanamai in Kwacha East more likely to feature Eston Mulenga, Kapambwe Mulenga and Golden Kazika ‘Jerusalem’ among the patrons.
As the team’s following grew exponentially with its successes on the field, its support base grew both in Kitwe and across the country. Rather than one homogeneous unit, supporters’ clubs mushroomed in the different cities that the team played in, chiefly along the line of rail. Each city where the team played was filled with sections of fans clad in white, yellow and red scarves with a banner stuck onto the wire fence that separated the field from the terraces identifying them as that city’s PDFC faithful followers. ‘Lusaka Based Power Dynamos Supporters Club,’ the banner read as fans danced joyously when in 1997 Kellies ‘Paymaster’ Mwaba scored twice in a 2-0 defeat of Lusaka Dynamos at Woodlands Stadium.
Power Dynamos fans made their presence felt across the country. The famous Copperbelt Power Company buses mounted on a truck horse were familiar sights across the country. Familiar to Kitwe residents, the buses drew crowds and bemused residents of other towns with their unique features. When Power Dynamos surprisingly lost the 1988 BP Challenge Cup final 2-0 to Zanaco, their late arrival from Kitwe was noted as one of the causes for the team’s lackluster start to the match.
The lack of cohesion in the supporters’ structures has recently been cause for much wrangling between the different supporters’ bodies and Power Dynamos management as the executive committee sought to harmonise and unify the different bodies that house diverse groups of fans who religiously and passionately follow the Club.
In more recent times the Power Dynamos Fans Forum, Power Dynamos Fans Association and Power Dynamos Die-Hards have all operated as separate supporters’ groups, all with the same objective of giving the Club full support at all times.
The Club administration sought to bring the supporters groups under one banner to allow easier mobilization, uniformity and to be best able to work out exactly how many official supporters the Club had for marketing purposes. To achieve this, the Power Dynamos Supporters Council was formed. After the initial steps looked promising, the old divisions resurfaced and ultimately led to the Power Dynamos executive committee withdrawing their backing for the group.
The Power Dynamos Mobilisation Committee was consequently formed as a result of the split but efforts to unite the supporters under one umbrella are yet to yield the desired outcome. With the factions sometimes puling in different directions the goal of unity has remained elusive.
While the cause of unifying supporters eludes the Club, there are those fans who do not belong to any formal structure but week in, week out, troop to the Arthur Davies Stadium clad in their club colours and supporting the cause purely out of love for the Club that they have rooted for from the time it rose through the ranks to become a force in Zambian football. They may not belong to the established supporters’ structures, but each loss is felt as severely as a blow to the solar plexus itself. They have shed tears of both joy and pain as the Club’s fortunes have fluctuated over time. On alternative weekends, when there is a home game, they troop in large numbers from the surrounding Ndeke sections to make their presence felt in the terraces. The bulk of the truly passionate supporters sit behind the southern goal post where the incessant sound of drums beating rhythmically synchronises the passing game the Club has always been associated with. It is here that the most fervent support comes from.
The stand opposite the grandstand is also another hive of activity on match day. Second only to the southern stand in ferocity of support, this area determines the mood of the day by sheer size and numbers of seats filled. It serves almost as a temperature gauge of the occasion.
The grand stand area also has its die-hard fans who have become legendary for sending volleys of comments towards the VIP area when they wish to make their feelings heard. Kitwe has always been a town of straight-talkers and so the narrative has always been direct and often fully expressive. It is here that Dennis Peters sat when he was a regular at the Arthur Davies Stadium. It is also here that referee Eddie Mutoya, after receiving an invective-filled volley from the same stand, while handling a Power Dynamos match, turned to his younger brother Sam and duly instructed him to deal with the culprit.
Other supporters worthy of mention are Polcarp Kanini whose running oration kept the fans entertained and the executive committee aware of the pulse of the fans on club matters.
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By Ponga Liwewe, Times of Zambia, Friday, 23 July 2021