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I’m nostalgic of good old days of ‘Mashemeji’ derby

Monday November 11 2019

A Gor Mahia fan and an AFC Leopards fan dance along Moi Avenue, Nairobi on November 10, 2019 ahead of the Mashemeji Derby. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A Gor Mahia fan and an AFC Leopards fan dance along Moi Avenue, Nairobi on November 10, 2019 ahead of the Mashemeji Derby. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

TOM OSANJO
By TOM OSANJO
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By now you all know how the ‘Mashemeji’ derby played on Sunday went- by all means I am willing Gor Mahia to thrash Ingwe senseless.

Ahead of the derby what struck me is the indifference with which the stakeholders – fans, officials and to some extent even the media- treat this great match.

This lackluster approach is a far cry from days of yore when Gor facing AFC was battle royal in all intents and purposes.

Unfortunately, this is a reflection of the overall situation where nearly everyone I know has their attention in the English Premier League and the teams there are treated like local boys from around the Nairobi estates.

It was never so in the good old days. I started attending football matches when Gor’s fans were almost as famous as the players they cheered on at the matches, only that the supporters lasted much longer than the players.

Long after the players had hanged their boots and walked off the pitch the supporters would still be holding their preferred sitting positions at the stadium. I am talking of the days of the late Aoingo Nyawawa, Dick Danger (father of star footballer and coach Sammy Pamzo Omollo) and Majimbo (this one went by only one name like the start Brazil footballers) among others.

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All the years I saw him at the terraces, Majimbo only had one T-shirt advertising the electronics manufacturer Philips. I only hope that other ardent Gor fan the late Tob Cohen who worked as regional boss for Philips rewarded Majimbo for his loyalty.

Majimbo would make history as the first known fan to cross over, leaving Gor for Re-Union. Apingo would follow later to support Kenya Breweries (now Tusker) but his was because he had changed jobs and there was no way his employer was going to allow him to support Gor instead of its own team.

After these ‘elders’ there were the foot soldiers, the younger men who were always at the bidding of the older folk. Straight off the memory reels names like the late Odanga Nyagol, Okello Makochuodho (I am told this one found religion and is now into serious church matters) and Dodd Kenyatta (he still comes to the stadium and with his youthful looks he can pass for a 30-year-old.

Not many know what he has contributed to supporting Gor Mahia). Of course people like yours truly ranked farther down the pecking order because we were just boys.

What was amazing with this group is that everybody knew the exact place they sat, shouting the rather obscene ‘my bottom’s position’ when they entered the Russia side of the pitch.

Any newcomer who inadvertently would be slowly persuaded to leave the seat to the owner. Persuasion is relative in this case.

The jokes cracked here were even more entertaining than the match being watched. I remember in those days sitting at the centre stand was seen as some form of abomination.

The ‘Russians’ would derisively call people sitting at Centre Stand as ‘jo-pajama’ or the pajama wearing folks in reference to their social and economic status.

We had men- and in some cases women- whose singing prowess could match any top notch musician and when the final whistle went, oh sweet victory, the dancing was simply out of this world.

May I remind you that the songs were mostly corrupted and were not the type you could listen to in the company of your mother in-law. How I wish someone would bring us back that old time religion at Gor Mahia….

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