What you need to know:
- On so many occasions I’ve witnessed him passionately trying to argue out Gor Mahia’s case on the sports desk, in some cases stubbornly defending a course that is ‘undefendable’
- It’s this little matter of headlines that is giving our good writer, Cecil, sleepless nights
- Needless to say, there is no better way to sell a good story other than with a punchy headline
My junior colleague Cecil Odongo, who covers the football beat for the Daily Nation, has lately been a very troubled man. It has everything to do with his beloved Gor Mahia, a club he has often stuck out his neck for in the line of duty.
It’s no secret where his heart lies. On so many occasions I’ve witnessed him passionately trying to argue out Gor Mahia’s case on the sports desk, in some cases stubbornly defending a course that is ‘undefendable’ (if at all there is such an English word). On other times, I’ve heard sports sub-editors loudly grumbling about a copy from our good writer which is a tad warped in K’Ogalo’s favour.
But Cecil is not alone. To counter-balance his partisan views and the occasional unbalanced copy is John Ashihundu, he of the Ingwe Den column. There is even a joke that goes around the office that good old Ashihundu – who also loves strumming the guitar and belting out popular Rhumba hits – wields some considerable influence within the club.
It’s all fair enough, given that most Kenyan football writers are known to throw their lot with their favourite teams. Biased coverage comes with the territory.
Truth be told, there are no longer any impartial football writers around. The factory that used to churn out hard-nosed football writers in the mold of my senior colleague and accomplished columnist Roy Gachuhi was shut down a long time ago.
Thankfully, these acts of omission and commission by the Cecils and Ashihundus of this world often does little harm, thanks to non-partisan players in the conveyor belt in the form of sub-editors with an eye for detail and an unwavering fidelity to factuality and accuracy.
Good sub-editors also have another inherent skill, the ability to beat bad copy into shape and craft colourful headlines that capture the gist of the story in just a few words.
It’s this little matter of headlines that is giving our good writer, Cecil, sleepless nights. Apparently, Gor Mahia’s rank and file is very unhappy with him for the stories – and particularly the headlines – that he has recently written.
Here is why. Sad and fortunate as it has been, the administrative wrangles and player mutiny that is threatening to boil over at the club have all made for very juicy stories in the papers. Needless to say, there is no better way to sell a good story other than with a punchy headline.
And boy! Hasn’t the Daily Nation been rolling out some witty headlines on Gor Mahia’s self-inflicted tragedy!
The one that beat them all and put our football writer in big trouble with K’Ogalo fans read “7 Gor players train but 6 is the key digit” (Sunday Nation January 3, 2021). Seven players, six goals. No need to explain it further than that.
On match day, the Daily Nation’s main sports headline read “Nowhere to hide for Gor”. It all proved prophetic as the visiting Algerian club CR Belouizdad further punctured K’Ogalo’s bruised ego with a 2-1 win at the Nyayo National Stadium, sending the once-mighty Gor Mahia tumbling out of the continental tournament with an embarrassing 8-1 aggregate loss.
The story in yesterday’s paper reviewing the round was headlined “Battered Gor rue another failed campaign in Africa”.
Be assured, if Gor’s fortunes changed, so too would the headlines and Cecil’s peace of mind.