Gor Mahia start upcountry tour

Gor Mahia’s annual tour of Nyanza province began in earnest this week. The first match pitted Kogalo against Migori combined whom they beat 4-1 with goals from Kitawi, Wekesa and a double from Kiplagat.

The annual tour which has a history going back to the 1970s is targeted at shoring up the club’s support in upcountry areas, strengthening upcountry branches and introducing upcountry fans to the players many of whom only hear about them on the radio or in the papers. It is for this reason that fan attendance at such tours is huge even for simple practice sessions.

Earlier on, Gor Mahia identified 5 players  from South Nyanza for trials during the Hillary Alila Youth Tournament at the Homa Bay Municipal Stadium. The players include; Homa Bay’s Mlimani FC trio Yusuf Mohamed, Ken Obiero, Hassan Arina, Karungu FC’s Calvince Odoyo and  perhaps the most interesting , Shauriyako FC’s Roy Okal who is also set to attend trials with Italian side Parma.

Kogalo has a history of identifying gems from upcountry locales. Legendary players like Bobby Ogolla, Tobias Ocholla, Allan Thigo etc were identified from upcountry teams.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all

On behalf of www.gormahia.net, this blogger would like to wish all Gor Mahia supporters and all supporters of Kenyan football happy holidays and a happy new year 2011. Yours truly has been taking a much needed leave in order to rest. I have been resting in Ocho Rios, soaking up the sun.

To all the readers, you are the very reason for this blog. I would like to hereby express my appreciation for your support in the year 2010. Your insightful contributions are always welcome. I look forward to seeing you yet again in 2011 as we support Gor Mahia wuod Ogalo and Kenya football in 2011. I look forward to your comments both brief and lengthy. Both agreeing and opposing views.

May you all have a prosperous 2011

2010 the year Gor Mahia fans came storming back

The height of Gor Mahia popularity was probably the 70s to early 80s. In those days, the league was dominated by community clubs: Gor Mahia, Abaluhya, Luo Union, Maragoli FC, Feisal, Ramogi, Abeingo, Nyanam, Kisumu Hotstars, Gema, Hakati Sportiff, Black Mamba, Nakuru All stars, Kisumu All Stars, Andimi etc. Fan support was passionate. Matches were thus well attended throughout the league, When Luo Union folded around 1980, many of its fans made peace with their previously bitter rivals at Kogalo and aside from a few holdouts like the famous Majimbo most became Kogalo fans. Gor Mahia’s fan base thus increased dramatically. In those days city stadium was filled to the brim. In the mid 80s, a match pitting Kogalo and AFC always filled Nyayo stadium past its capacity. Even a match pitting Gor Mahia and Tusker, then known as Kenya Breweries would fill Nyayo to the brim.

Kogalo vs Tusker in 1985 filled the standing room section of City stadium

The number of people attending Kogalo matches had been declining gradually since 1987. The reasons were were myriad but were primarily due to poor management and low standards, So dire was the situation that former club patron Joab Omino predicted the imminent demise of community clubs as far back as 1991. By 2006 thanks to abysmal management, the number of people attending Kogalo matches had plummetted to levels now seen only in nationwide league matches. Omino’s prediction seemed imminent because AFC Leopards were not faring any better in attracting fans.

Its true that the renaissance in fan attendance started in 2008. But 2010 was the year when fans really made their presence felt. Gor Mahia matches were by far the best attended. All the matches that recorded the highest attendances involved Gor Mahia. Fans created an electric atmosphere. So electric that the Kenya tourist board has been recommending to tourists  to visit the stadium when Kogalo are playing.

To top it off, Kogalo fans today really know how to get behind their team. And this is where today’s fans differ from those from say 25 years ago.  Whereas fans in the 70s and 80s were passionate and emotional, they rarely got behind the team as todays fans do. In fact the fans were so demanding that they often made players too nervous. As a player, you had to have nerves of steel when things were going poorly.  Perhaps fans were spoiled by success and demanded no less. When the team was winning, the fans were always in full song. When the team was playing poorly, fans became demanding. Its fair to say that in those days, Kogalo did not always have a home advantage. This explains the quirky performance of Gor Mahia in continental matches where their away performance was often better than their performance at home. (Read the history at www.gormahia.net for more information on this phenomenon. Today’s fans rally behind the team even when they fall behind or are playing poorly. As a result, they have played a pivotal role in lifting the team to a second place in the league. The fans have become the crucial 12th man.

Gor Mahia fans haven’t just been beneficial to the club, but also to the entire league. The atmosphere they create makes fans all over the country more eager to attend KPL matches. Even Ulinzi stars was able to attract large number of chanting fans to Afraha stadium during the last days of the league as Nakuru fans sought to emulate their Kogalo compatriots. Travelling Gor Mahia fans have also been a boon to local business people in places like Kakamega and Thika whenever Gor Mahia travel there. They cant wait for the next time Gor Mahia visit as business is always brisk. So Gor Mahia fans are haviong an impact on the economy of entire towns.

Speaking of emotional and demanding fans, another area where todays fans are different is how they react to losses. In the past, fans would rain stones on opposing fans, on police and on unfortunate motorists. A popular song sung at Russia in those days used to go hence “Police a lis ni be iringo ? Kau Kidi ! “..which roughly translates to “Dont be afraid of Police,  Just pick up a stone. Ttoday’s fans focus on cheering the team and if results do not pan out, they drown their sorrows at their favorite drinking joints. So one might say that 2010 is the year when fans have taken a giant step in convincing potential sponsors to align with the club.

Kit wa cha ! was the rallying cry in those days

And finally another area where things have changed dramatically is the prevalence of young ladies at Kogalo matches. Whereas in the past , few women attended and those who attended were mainly middle aged women. Today it is normal to see women of all ages at Kogalo matches. And the fans are better behaved around women than they were in the past.

Yours truly hopes that the trend of fans returning to the stadia to watch Kogalo will continue and that the club management will have the foresight not to antagonize fans by hiking ticket prices. Many fans who are still on the fence about returning might be turned off by that.

Finally, Gor Mahia may be slowly outgrowing City stadium. They should seriously consider moving most of their home matches to Nyayo stadium. This may sound blasphemous to many supporters because City stadium is seen as the spiritual home of Kogalo. But its also not fair to make fans stand up while watching the game as happens in the standing room section aka Soweto. Nor is it fair to make fans who paid main stand fees sit on concrete slabs. City stadium management has not improved that stadium in 30 years nor have they built any new terraces. Perhaps fans should petition the Prime minister and the government to construct new terraces at City stadium. The new stand at Harlequins stadium (below) cost only ksh 15 million.

Fans at the new Safaricom stand

Ambrose Rachier: A breath of fresh air

About 3 years ago when Ambrose Rachier was elected, a blogger penned an article asking whether Ambrose Rachier would be a continuation of the mediocre leadership that Gor Mahia and other Kenyan clubs have suffered or whether he will bring fresh ideas to help propel the club back to its previous standards and beyond.

For the past 30 odd years, Kogalo like other Kenyan clubs have suffered mightily due to leaders that are often incompetent, lack ideas or are driven by selfish interests. As a result the club’s fortunes have plummeted. From the heights it scaled in winning the Africa cup in 1987, Gor Mahia suffered the ignominy of being relegated twice.

Up until the 1980s, the club had some decent chairmen starting with founder chairman, Stan Ramogo, Peter Anyumba, Zack Mbori and Joab Omino. All ran the club as best they could as an amateur team. Players were typically recruited by being promised jobs at parastatals where some Kogalo officials had connections. Kenya Railways and Telecom were particular targets.

Mbori was known as a disciplinarian who also showed some foresight. Under him,  Gor Mahia were able to obtain the services of Len Julians, perhaps the best coach ever to coach Kogalo. He also paid a full scholarship for former captain Peter Otieno Bassanga to attend a coaching course in England. Bassanga later became coach at SoNy and led them to the league title in 2006.

Mbori’s popularity saw him win the club elections of 1984 in a landslide when they were held mlolongo style

Joab Omino was club patron and often paid player allowances out of his own pocket. His largesse is credited with enabling Gor Mahia to win the Africa cup in 1987.  However Omino’s foresight is questionable. He afterall predicted the imminent demise of community clubs.   1987 indeed marks the start of the steep decline of the club. In 1988 Douglas Oyieng Odolla became chairman. The only thing I remember him for is for expelling promising player John Okello Zangi with no valid reason.

The 1990s saw a succession of officials who ranged from idea-less to ill equipped or negligent. Kombai,  Misiga etc. Okudo tried his best but eventually gave up. At one point there was even an Asian named Rajbinder Singh who was installed as chairman ostensibly to raise funds. Suffice to say he never did. One exception may have been Joseph Ogode, the first and only chairman to obtain shirt sponsorship for Kogalo. However the financial benefits of that sponsorship were meagre. In the 2000s there was Fred Odera, Obita Odero, Mwango and of course Erastus Okul, the worst culprit of them all. A man under whom Gor Mahia plumbed the depths of relegation twice. Sammy Omollo claims that his 1993 tryout with an English team was sabotaged by club officials.

Rachier has remedied some of this. For years, fans have beseeched the club to sell merchandise because they were eager to buy. Rachier and his team have accomplished this. Kogalo now has the biggest jersey sales by a country mile.

Whereas players used to go for months without pay, they are now paid on time. Fans have returned in large part due to the perception that the club is now better run. And the club is now on its way back to the glory days, having gone from 10th to 5th and now 2nd in the KPL.

Having said that however, much more needs to be done. In terms of merchandise, why stop at jerseys ? Fans will buy anything with the club name. I am talking jackets, caps, pens, umbrellas, posters, bags, vuvuzelas, you name it.

Perhaps the one area Rachier needs to work on is the area of transparency. There is a huge fan base out there that will gladly contribute money even on a monthly basis if the club published monthly audited accounts. There are fans all over the diaspora, UK, USA, Canada, Australia etc who are eager to support the club financially. Its up to Rachier and his team to create structures to allow such fans to directly contribute to the club and structures that will assure the fans that their funds are well spent and will not be embezzled.

And finally the chairman should consider addressing fans more often. Keep fans engaged and up to date on what is going on at the club e.g. any plans for the future. When fans are kept updated, they are more likely to attend games and support other club endavours. Ronald Ngala deserves credit in this regard.

There should be no secrecy within the Gor Mahia community. If the club is run in a transparent manner, the sky is the limit. You will be amazed at how much money Kogalo well wishers can raise if they are kept up to date on the day to day affairs at the club.

The previous article circa 2007 can be found here http://kenyapage.net/football/comments/rachier.html

Anthony Akumu impressive in Danish Trials

Gor Mahia’s youthful defensive midfielder Anthony ‘Teddy’ Akumu made  a good impression in randers FC in difficult circumstances. However the team has not made a decision on signing him. Coach kronjyderne will make a decision next week.

Akumu training in frigid conditions

Akumu was solid while training in frigid conditions that make every single tooth chatter endlessly. Impressive considering he had never seen a single snowflake in his life. He said “The first training was very hard to get through, because I simply froze so much,’ Tells anthony – or ‘kennedy’ as he is called on træningsbanen – after last Friday’s training session.

Akumu continued “But I now have become used to the weather, and was a little better today,’.  “I hope I can help the team

My aim is to earn a contract, so I hope that I will be better and is better and better into the team the next few days.’ ‘I think that I can do it well in randers and help the team to a very good position, if I have the opportunity,

Randers have been assessing the young midtbanespiller (midfielder in Danish), since chefscout Peter christiansen contacted him in September.

Akumu impressed while playing alongside US international striker, the sensational Freddy Adu who became a famous prodigy as early as age 12 but has yet to fulfill the promise and hype that has followed him in the last 9 years.

Speaking on Akumu, The danish officials said – “We have seen him in a few matches and to training, and he has done well under difficult conditions and very different situation than he is accustomed to. We have not taken any decision on him yet“.

We have to concentrate on the weekend’s struggle, and then meet with jacob Nielsen in next week to discuss him, says chefscout Peter ‘PC’ christiansen to  . While Teddy will be in randers FC week, the club ON THE OTHER HAND said goodbye to any freddy Adu after he yesterday played an hour in reservenederlaget to FCM. – HE HAS GONE back to Washington, which it has always been the plan.

Adu HAS GONE back to Washington, which it has always been the plan. He was here because there was room and nothing else, says Christiansen. Adu were able to act in three reservekampe, all of which were lost.

Says Christansen Akumu is a tall and elegant player, which is good to dictate the pace in midfield and also start the passing attack.

Teddy training with team-mates and other trialists