Do more to make ‘Mashemeji derby’ popular with fans again

Cliff Nyakeya

AFC Leopards' Cliff Nyakeya (left) vies for the ball with Gor Mahia's Cliff Nyaekya during theit Football Kenya Federation Premier League match at Moi International Sports Center Kasarani in Nairobi on May 8, 2022.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Be that as it may, those of us who still have the love of our beloved K’Ogalo will never miss any match whatever the prevailing circumstances. We have a cardinal duty to do so. And also in keeping the memories of the fans who went ahead of us alive.
  • I am sure departed fans like Apingo Nyawawa, Odanga, Majimbo, Dick Danger and many others will be proud to know that we are still going to the stadium.

“The derby is a tradition in Kenya because both teams are pressured by their fans to win. Even the place in the table of standings is secondary. We are prepared and motivated to win.”

These were the words of German Andreas Spier (I wonder why the good man cannot just call himself ‘Spear’, after all he is in charge of the biggest club in our neck of the woods), the Gor Mahia coach ahead of yesterday’s ‘MaDERBYshemeji derby’ against our perennial- and losing- rivals AFC Leopards.

With the title seemingly out of reach of the two clubs, yesterday’s match was more of a formality to clear their league obligations but also largely a matter of pride.

We must agree that our football, or rather the fortunes of the two clubs, have hit rock bottom. In the days of yore, the whole of the past week would have seen pressure building up as we headed to the biggest football showdown in the country.

Newspapers, radio, and TV stations (although we had only one in the Voice of Kenya which later mutated into the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation) would be assailing our eyes and ears with the pending do-or-die match.

I remember as a tiny wee lad cutting pen portraits of the legendary assassins who did duty for K’Ogalo.

Names like David Ochieng’ Kamoga, Austin Oduor ‘Makamu’, John Bobby Ogolla ‘Six Million Dollar Man’, John ‘Zangi’ Okello, George ‘Fundi’ Onyango were inscribed in my little memory and on any given day I could name the probable line-up hours to the match.

Later, I became a ball boy owing to my Boy Scout status and these are men I would exchange pleasantries with while on the sidelines.

The next day my schoolmates would never hear the last of it, after all, who among them had ever handed over a football to ‘Kamoga’ himself while he was controlling the match proceedings from his little fiefdom in goal?

One thing writers of our football history will forever scratch their heads trying to figure out is why whereas the rest of the world had their football going in an upward trajectory, ours took the opposite direction and is still on the downward spiral.

Trying to find where the rain started beating us, and specifically Gor Mahia, legendary sports writer Roy Gachuhi once penned in the pages of this newspaper that the nicknames the fans heaped on the players was a motivating factor in the fierce loyalty and artistry the boys brought to the pitch.

I agree with my senior. Back in the day if you mentioned the name ‘Wuod Amina’ (Amina’s son), it was obvious that you were referring to that towering man with a shaggy mane, an assassin per excellence Abdalla Shebe.

Then we had two George Otienos and all you had to say was ‘Solo’ and ‘Virgo’ to differentiate between the tough-as-steel defenders (at times aptly called ‘chumb reru’ or railway line), and his high flying upfront colleague.

Not the case anymore an in the current Gor Mahia squad, I think the only nickname that rings a bell with majority of the fans is ‘Blackberry’ for George Odhiambo, the veteran who has returned to the cub after various journeys and has proven that old is gold if his free scoring is anything to go by.

Be that as it may, those of us who still have the love of our beloved K’Ogalo will never miss any match whatever the prevailing circumstances. We have a cardinal duty to do so.

And also in keeping the memories of the fans who went ahead of us alive.

I am sure departed fans like Apingo Nyawawa, Odanga, Majimbo, Dick Danger and many others will be proud to know that we are still going to the stadium.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.