Big Bullets father, founder dies


John Gilmore, who is considered Nyasa Big Bullets’ father and founder, died at his United Kingdom home on Monday aged 86.

Yasin Osman, then a top notch striker Gilmore recruited from Be Forward Wanderers, Tuesday confirmed the death of his former manager.

“I would remember him as a leader who tried to lead while considering everybody. He gave praise where it was due and criticised where it was deserved but most important was his ability to lift the players when they were down,” Yasin Osman said.


Gilmore was behind the signing from Wanderers of Osman in a deal that involved a first domestic transfer fee, 100 sterling pounds, before the then Blantyre City Council-sponsored team turned into Bata Bullets after clinching Bata Shoe Limited sponsorship in September 1968.

“Wanderers were the first team to pay players in Malawi football so we, too, had to pay ours in order to compete. As a result between 1969 and 1970, we were champions of everything—BDFL [Blantyre and Districts Football League], Chibuku, Castle and BAT,” Gilmore, who also served as Bullets co-coach alongside Farid Osman, Yasin Osman’s brother, told The Sunday Times in 2005.

“Between 1971 and 1972, we, again, won all four cup competitions plus the league and thereafter, we signed Kinnah Phiri, Spy Msiska, Henry Moyo and Tomia Mkandawire.”


Gilmore served Bullets as team manager and general secretary.

Bullets Administrator, Albert Chigoga, Tuesday described the death of Gilmore as a great loss to the People’s Team family “considering his legacy.

A father of five, Gilmore, who was married to Sheila Malila, was a retired British soldier who relocated to Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) before proceeding to Nyasaland (now Malawi) in 1963.

He also had a stint with MDC United as team manager in the late 1980s. Gilmore, was while in Malawi, based in Bvumbwe, Thyolo District where he spent his retirement fishing and making walking sticks.

Gilmore wished “to be remembered for providing a whole generation of BB fans some wonderful football matches at BAT Ground.”

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