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Mashemeji derby craze that never dies

Some years ago while growing up in Eastlands, TV was the stuff of fantasy. In fact, the English Premier League bedlam that so obsessed the present generation was unheard of.

The only football people were conversant with was the Kenya Football Federation National League.

My father was an Ingwe diehard while K’Ogalo blood flowed freely in Baba Ouma’s veins. He was our next-door neighbour.

As was the case with lowly neighbourhoods, we did not have the privilege of toys and made some from any available unrecycled plastics and tins.

My old man would occasionally take my elder brother and me to the City Stadium to watch matches.

I vividly remember the likes of the bearded JJ Masiga, Wilberforce Mulamba, Mohamoud Abbas, John Arieno Papa, Josephat Murila et al.

Ouma’s father also took his sons to ties involving Gor and other clubs.

Violence

My father and Ouma’s were careful to take to us to games that only featured unremarkable clubs like Stony Athi, Scarlet, KTM, Motcom, Transcom, Bata Bullets and others.

 

The Gor -AFC matches were reserved for the two old men; and for a reason – the games almost always ended in violence.

I’m sure they wouldn’t want their sons caught up in stone throwing and tear gas filled post-match carnage.

Because TV was out of question, we had to contend with Leonard Mambo Mbotela and Salim Manga’s blown-up accounts on the VoK radio.

There is one derby though that will never escape my mind. It took place almost a year after the failed coup.

During the day, we watched Isukuti troupes and the Green Army hollering and dancing themselves lame on their way to the stadium.

Long after the game, neither my father nor Ouma’s had arrived home.

My father was the first to turn up at 9pm with a swollen eye and the other bloodshot. He refused to talk. Baba Ouma did not return home that Saturday night, causing his family to panic.

Sickening horror

Alas! He came on Sunday at 10am in a friend’s car. The thrill that followed turned into sickening horror.

His left leg was in plaster. It was my father with his bulging eye that took him to the house. Interestingly, Baba Ouma also refused say anything.

It was only later that we came to know that the match had ended well but a section of the crowd began the stone-throwing ritual before the situation degenerated into a free for all.

My father was one of the boulder casualties while Baba Ouma broke his leg as he jumped from the top of a wall.

He was on his feet months later and never stopped attending the derbies. That was the beauty of the Gor-AFC matches.

Unfortunately, the so called digital generation still goes to stadia harbouring such war-like mentality. You saw what happened last Sunday during the GOtv final.

Anyway, congrats Ingwe. Now, I’m sure my old man has stopped being a dynamo in his grave. The Leopards have suffered countless defeats in their recent derbies. Prior to Sunday, the last they won was in 2011.