Crossing The Nile westbound from the isle of Zamalek means breaking the sound barrier of yet another Cairo Cacophony. The area of Mohandessin, more precisely the Mit Okba district, saw the rise of omni Zamalek Sporting Club in 1911, allegedly under the guise of Kasr-El Nil, at a time British army teams, college teams, Al Sekka Al Hadeed and Al Ahly dominated the football scene in fascinating Cairo.
They became known as the Al Mokhtalat Club until 1941. The ‘Farouk’ stigma would follow, only to be re-branded in the now household name Zamalek in the wake of the 1952 revolution. Irrespective of the name changes, Mohamed Hassan Helmi, who took the ‘Zamora’ nickname from Spanish goalkeeping legend Ricardo Zamora Martinez, will always live in the hearts of Zamelkawy as an iconic synonym for their beloved club.
He ran the club’s presidency for three terms in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties of the previous millennium and is still renowned for his strong leadership abilities, professionalism and innovative skills. It therefore will come as no surprise that the club’s home soil is named after this heroic and charismatic character.
Unfortunately, Zamalek’s cradle, has been bereft of its end stands and floodlights in the course of 2005. In its heydays, the ground would have accommodated at least 30,000 self-acclaimed bohemians and free-thinkers, or maybe even aristocrats. However, what is left is a two-sided venue, meticulously maintained to accommodate athletes and to serve as the club’s office and training facilities.
The neat and covered main stand, its colours representing the club’s sartorial saga, is neighboured by two uncovered and smaller look-a-likes. Newly erected tiny floodlights not only obscure free view from the stands but also illuminate the familiar athletics tracks that reflect almost any Egyptian ground lay-out.
Opposite the main stand, uncovered seating, equally equipped with horrendous floodlights, and once embraced by the end stands, complete what is now an amputated venue. Regardless of its present state, Helmi Zamora’s spirit will always be synonymous to the club’s and it’s supporters’ morale.