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MBOYA: Gor is a household name even in forgotten villages

Sunday July 26 2020
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Gor Mahia players celebrate their goal against Kakamega Homeboyz during their Kenyan Premier League match at the Bukhungu Stadium on January 12, 2020. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JOSEPH MBOYA

Greetings from Sagana, Kirinyaga County! Once in a while I get acute bouts of wanderlust and being the footloose chap I am, I often find myself on the road, heading to no assigned place in particular but taking the time to soak in the sights and sound of our beautiful country.

It was is in that peaceful state of mind that I find myself in the scenic Sagana town of Kirinyaga County.

And no, unlike the lovelorn Tanzanians of the Les Wanyika Band who were smitten by a local beauty by the name of Afro, I am not searching for love. But then again, one thing living for almost half a century has taught me is never say never….

It is times like these that I travel down memory lane and today and I am reminded of a Facebook post a man from these slopes of Kirinyaga, my good friend Mukurima Muriuki, did last year in praise of the team he loves, Gor Mahia. 

What struck me in that piece was that even at a young age, Mukurima - writing from his new home in far away Los Angeles in the United States of America - had a chance to watch K’Ogalo play at the local Kerugoya Stadium where he saw his heroes taking on local footballers in a friendly match.

We need to take the club to the people more often for I believe that in every hill and hamlet of this country and beyond, there are legions of Gor fans.

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This is Mukurima’s edited piece.

 “Gor Mahia did the unthinkable - winning the Nelson Mandela Cup. No other Kenyan club has achieved what Gor did in 1987; Kenya Breweries had the chance in 1994 against Daring Club Motema Pemba, but choked! (Patrick Nachok, Peter Mwololo, and Henry Motego tried all they could.....)

I remember hearing the name “Gor Mahia” in the early 90’s. The first time I heard the name, I thought to myself, “this sounds cool” and I fell in love with whatever Gor Mahia was. My uncle would explain to me that this was a name of a top football club in Kenya. 

As Rudi Voller orchestrated the West Germany attack during the 1990 World Cup, I remember my uncle talking of Gor Mahia’s George “Fundi” Onyango as being built in the same form and style as Voller. If Voller was the periscope for the German submarine, Fundi was Gor’s architect-in chief. 

Even before I read about Gor’s 1987 exploits through the Primary English article mentioned earlier, there was no denying that a number of Gor Mahia players were idolised in forgotten villages of Kenya.

As a 10 or 11 year old attending Baricho FC (a local team in Kirinyaga) matches, I would hear our players being called out by names like “ Engine,” “Zangi,” “Zamalek” ‘Zico” “Achieng Achieng”, “Dawo,” “Fundi.” Little did I know these were not their real names, but nicknames adopted from Gor Mahia players...

I love Gor Mahia. In 1995, we won the league with a lot of nyadhi. Under the tutelage of coach Gardasevic Vojo, Gor won the national league after amassing a record 101 points. 

I shed tears when Dan Shikanda was sold to AFC Leopards. I was elated when Peter Mwololo was signed from Kenya Breweries.

The best front office job was getting then high-flying striker Patrick Oyiengo from Reli. He was our version of Ruud Van Nistelrooy. 

Jared Achieng Achieng could have been our Jean Jacques Misse Misse. Then again, life happens. 

We are Gor Mahia. We do not make history; history finds us as we chart new frontiers.

George ‘Fundi” Onyango once neutralised George Weah. John “Baresi” Odhiambo once tamed Augustine Jay Jay Okocha.

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