It blew from the right side like a red gust

It blew from the right side like a red gust

Every time one of my friends crosses the road to death without looking back, I remember Nelson Rodrigues’ astonished expression when his wife came to tell him that Guimarães Rosa was dead: «He died?! But he died as if he were alive?!».

On October 7, 1974, the children returned to school. The holidays were long at that time. So much so that they called them “big holidays”. In that year of 1974, it was difficult to return to classes, I remember it well. The country was confused and so were we. Between the teachers who showed up and those who didn’t, there were hours of free time to spend with a ball and makeshift goals. Goals were scored outside of the agenda, there was an administrative error and there were also failures due to fouls. The world was much more fun than it is today and Portugal had hope in people’s eyes that died as the years went by and the unfortunate multiplication
of incompetent rulers
and dishonest.

The day before, Benfica had given 4-0 to Académico de Coimbra, which was the disguised Académica of that time, and the tone was set for a championship won with brilliance under the command of Milorad Pavic, one of those coaches who had success at Benfica and, in Then, failure at Sporting. Be that as it may, ahead… Académico beats Benfica without appeal or grievance, and throughout the season Benfica will have very little Eusébio, very little Jordão and even less Artur Jorge, which would be a cause for alarm in any forward line in the world. But the machine worked…

Man of the day: Moinhos.

I could almost say man of the year, with 13 goals in the championship (Benfica’s top scorer ahead of Nené with 11) and another 5 in the Portuguese Cup, but I’ll stick with the Luz game, 5th Journey.

Moinhos was a figure. If you don’t remember him, look for a photograph or see the one that accompanies the text, all full of my young friends, Toni, Romeu, Vítor Baptista, Barros, Pietra… The last one, Moinhos, was no mistake: It was all 70s! Mário Jorge Moinhos Matos, born in Vila Nova de Gaia on May 13, 1949. He played for Vilanovense and Boavista before coming to Benfica. He stayed for four seasons, from 1973 to 1977, the best of which is the one I’m telling you about.

Against Académico (and it’s not easy to write Académico when it’s not the Viseu club you’re referring to…), Moinhos was only playing his third full game since signing for Benfica. Pavic liked him, as Mário Wilson also liked him the following year. In the 8th minute he made it one-nil, with a header, and prepared to sharpen his boots. Jordão scored the second, half an hour in, and everything remained like that until half-time. The Academic could not; Benfica didn’t want it.

I still remember that game, little by little, but I remember it. Benfica could have won by half a dozen, if they had taken advantage of the dynamics of Vítor Martins, Toni and Simões, but up front everything was very wasteful, very little concentrated, not reaching the holes conceded by the clumsy Brasfemes and facing reckless agility by Cardoso.

I make use of old newspapers, so as not to assassinate my memory and lead the esteemed reader to errors of memory that are always so common.

The magnificent Gervásio and Mário Campos played at Académico, but very slowly. And Costa and Vala. And Zé Belo and Gregório Freixo. And this great friend of mine from so many hours, Vítor Manuel, came in, you see.

Vítor Baptista entered, «the spearhead of childhood without tenderness», as José Jorge Letria wrote for Vitorino’s voice, and Ibraim, one of those forgotten about the incarnate glories. Nené and Jordão left. Moinhos remained, of course. The afternoon was his. He enjoyed it well. It was only on matchday 16, in Belém, that Moinhos would score again: two goals in a 2-1 victory, with the blue goal coming from Pietra, who would soon wear red. In 1977, with the Benfica chapter closed, Moinhos returned to Boavista. Three seasons before moving to Espinho where he ended his career. Moinhos took advantage of the blank check that Pavic handed over. In the second half he scored two more goals and even kicked two balls into the posts, something that could have given him, if luck hadn’t been in his favor, a day he would never forget. But the classic magic of the hat-trick is still beautiful.

Thin, almost squalid, long hair, socks down, close to the heels. That’s how Moinhos was. A figure: I repeat. He was champion with Benfica three consecutive seasons. How many can be proud of that? It ran like the wind. He appeared, unexpectedly, conclusively meeting the ball. It was from a time even before this amorphous and eerie time. From a time when there was joy in the eyes of believers and a future that others would spoil.

The children returned to classes. What did they learn? Sunday in Lisbon. October in Light. Moinhos ran over the grass, to the right, like a red gust… Death took him now, in the wind that turned the last sails
of your name.

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