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Mémoire envoyé par : Taoufik GHRIB


Nabeul - Tunisia Spring 1956

Visiting Team : Athletic Club of Prague - Czechoslovakia - (a well known basket
ball team even beyond the iron curtain )
Host Teams :
1 - Stade Nabeulien ( high ranking team according to the averagelevel of Tunisian Championships)
2 - The Chief Cook of the Municipal Stadium of Nabeul
3 - The Fans
4 - Spring Fever

People love to recall the memories of their youth, so I made up my mind to unveil to you some loopholes which we imagined during the visit to my home town, of the very prestigious Czech basketball team.

The aim of these unethical means was not to better assure a victory over this deified star team, but only to avoid a heavy defeat.

The big game has already begun outside the stadium. The mood of the weather in this spring season of 1956 had created an atmosphere of constant enjoyment of places and occasions. The silver light caress of the sun, the view of the blue sea, the orange and citrus groves, the perfume of Seville orange trees, geraniums and roses created a series of waves of flowering gardens, appealing to relaxation rather than competition.

The first reception in favour of our prestigious visitors was offered in the Town Hall and enriched by a speech of the Mayor - Dr. Karila - about the Roman origins of his town ( second century ), from the time Emperor Augustus settled it, after the Third Punic war. At that time it was called NEW TOWN ( Neapolis, sounds the same as Naplouse, Napoli and Minneapolis).

Then, in the fourteenth century, the settlement of Andalusian refugees ( both Moslems and Jews ), fleeing from the rechristanisation of Spain. Pottery, ceramics, needlework and lace, agricultural products, cultivated plants, wine making traditions, perfume distilleries ( from bitter orange blossoms - n?roli -, geraniums, eglantine nesria - and roses ) and the elaborate style of cooking with a myriad of spices, all of these things took their deep roots thanks to this ancient melting pot.

During the Mayor's speech some veteran fans were very busy, by filling up the glasses of the coach and the players, not with bio orange juice, but with a strong and perfumed fig alcohol (boukha ).

After this warm reception, some quick sightseeing in the Souks took place. They are concentrated around the Great Mosque, where colours, sounds and perfumes respond to each other. And in a blacksmith shop, surprisingly a member of the Czech delegation discovered a picture of the triple Olympic champion Czech runner, Emile ZATOPEK ( 5,000 m, 10.000 m, and the marathon at Helsinki in 1952 ). He was so surprised and delighted to see a fan of their National Hero, that he kissed him, took off his own cap and offered it to the artisan as souvenir.

Then came the lunch, given in the dancing cafeteria hall of the Municipal Stadium. Instead of a light and tonic meal, the Chief Cook prepared a magnificent couscous strewn with big lamb sausages - osbane -accompanied with whey - petit lait - , beer and a fruity Kelibia Ros?. To make an end of it, homemade cookies were served ... some of them sprinkled with strong drinks!
As it was still early for the beginning of the Big Game, it was suggested to ours visitors, to discover the nearby beaches of NABEUL ? PLAGE. They were so seduced by the green and blue paradise of the site that most of them decided to taste the pleasures of a diving and swimming in our dear Grande Bleue. They enjoyed it a lot, specially those who seemed a little bit tipsy.

Finally the game inside the stadium began. Our team made an explosive start and led in a few minutes 8 to .. 0!
It was unbelievable !! Le Stade Nabeulien was cool and composed. It used adroit outside shooting, smart passing and dribbling and a physical man- to -man defence. Slah Tabane, the smart and imperial Captain, the boyish and talented Renato, the team driver Stop Marzouki, Ghez with his thick spectacles fixed with an elastic band battling for every rebound, the astute left hand player Kellich and the teen-ager and genius Mhamed Ali Chelli, did a tremendous job.

As basketball was the most popular sport of the town, the rusty stadium was so crowded that it seemed that all the inhabitants had come. The fans were so excited a moment of great happiness. Even the shy Miss Nabeul an excellent schoolmistress and a good basketball player herself - was losing her reserve. The Praha's defense was repeatedly caught off - guard and was the key of this miraculous score. This fleet performance which lasted only few minutes, seemed to us - teens fans - to have lasted all the game!

And .... what had to happen happened. The Magic Team awakened up from its insidious lethargy ( we had wounded their pride), cleared their minds, and liberated their muscles and their talent, and went on to score steadily with the highest percent shooting I had ever seen for along time.

It reminded me of the show of The HARLEM GLOBE TROTTERS against the CELTIC of NEW YORK in the late forties or the early fifties which had performed against each other at TUNIS Nursery Stadium (which was located near El Mechtel Hotel ).

So that our prestigious Visitors crushed our team by un score fleuve !! My memory can't - by pride maybe - remember the true score of this magnificent Super Challenge ... But happily the third half took place : they all danced, sang, delighted by this last and pleasant party ...

Taoufik GHRIB
Nabeul on my mind
Member of the Nabeul Medina's Safeguard Association

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