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Sunday, 1 April 2012

Gor Mahia versus AFC Leopards Derbies: Fan trouble or a case of Hooligans and Criminals? PART 1

I recall in my early days growing up we used to collect plastic paper bags {jualas} and beat up cactus plants against rough edged walls to get sisal that we used to make polythene‘footballs’ with.

So beautiful were they that the level of 'sophistication' and 'class' went to the most intricately woven polythene ball either in squared or circular pattern.The ‘classier’ the ball, the more the players you got when it came to game time.
The polythene bag balls we used to play ball with..

Growing up in the 80’s, we only had two teams to identify with: Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards, and these are the teams that we divided ourselves into in any soccer game in the hood.

We didn’t stop there, we knew each and every player by name so you can imagine we had an exact replica Gor and AFC team of 7-8yr olds runnning around our neighbourhood pitch.

So we had the little, Sammy Onyango ‘Jogoo',Peter Dawo, Ben ‘Break-dance’ Oloo,George Onyango 'Fundi',Peter 'Bassanga' Otieno,George Sunguti,Goal Keepers - Omar Shaban,Abass Khamis Magongo just to mention but a few.

So dramatic were these games that we even mimicked the physical impressions of our favorite players when tackled, given a red/yellow card, when substituted or when a goal was scored for or against them.

But amazingly what stood out –though we never thought about it as intensely as we do now as grownups- was that we aligned ourselves along tribal teams affiliations.

The Luo kids with “O” names were predominant in the little Gor Mahia team whereas the Wekesas, Situmas, Wanderas,Wanjalas etc made up the AFC team.The 'remnants', i.e.non-Luo or Abaluhya kids were always the substitutes, referees, linesmen or the guys who marked the pitch and measured the distance between goal posts but never the starting eleven.

The games were so eye catching that our parents {read dads} used to congregate at a popular square block that was initially meant to be a dust bin-turned chill-out zone. They’d act un interested until one of the kids was either roughly tackled or a goal was scored against the mini AFC or Gor team, then you’d see them jump up in dissent or excitement before turning a serious face.

Playtime in the hood...
The outcome of such games without our realization created rift between families in our neighborhood as our parents reprimanded us against talking to our friends or visiting their houses for whatever reason.

Now, the senior Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards teams were something else.

Being very conservative, my dad used to watch the games live on our black and white TV. Kick off used to be every weekend at 4pm.Those were the days we’d congregate in the sitting room with groundnuts and porridge as curtains were drawn to keep away the evening sun from the TV screen as we created an atmosphere akin to that in a movie theatre.Our neighbor, a luhya would come over religiously to watch the game with us.

Allegiances to teams were crucial, if you were a Gor fan you were a diehard: there was no shifting teams to Re-Union or Rivatex for example.

To say the games were nail biting would be an understatement. They were riveting!!Picture how dramatic it can become when you are watching the game on TV but getting live commentary on the transistor {MW} radio. The likes of Anunda Sakwa, Jack Oyoo Sylvester and Leonard Mambo Mbotela had the knack to make you sit edge-of-the-seat anticipating a goal when in real sense the player was setting the ball on the corner flag post in readiness to take up a corner!

This particular game I remember because it was a game Gor Mahia won from an aerial header by the ever flamboyant Peter Dawo in the dying minutes of the game. In his lanky frame and box shaven hairstyle, he clutched on to a high ball and with class netted it on the top left corner. Gor won 1:0.

Peter Dawo the 1980's sensational striker 
The bitter exchange between my dad and ourLuhya neighbor after the game goes into the annuls of verbal abuse history. The unprintables and the claims of complementing poor physical play with witchcraft by AFC was mentioned somewhere in the confrontation. Claims of Gor playing to the crowd with wasted scoring opportunities was also mentioned by the AFC diehard.

End result – We {the kids} were banned from borrowing book from each other, playing with or even seen standing in a manner to suggest that we are about to talk to each other.

The late evenings by the neighbor’s doorstep as we waited for them to finish cooking chapattis so that we get a taste became a thing of the past.

This is when the proverbial rain started hitting us and hence the continuation of generational rivalry that we had remained oblivious to as small kids.

The Scribe Rests his Pen

Read Part 2 of this on the next post.

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