15 Jul 14

Story by Muroro Pacho
Milimani 89 -Strathmore 93

The year 2014 will be remembered in the annals of the club history for the mass exodus of top players that the club experienced. Key players left in droves at mid season including Shaban Kenga, Anthony Akumu, Timonah Wanyonyi, Kevin Omondi, Rama Salim and now possibly Dan Sserunkuma. All key players who were playing significant roles at the club.  However it must be remembered that Gor Mahia as a club has experienced a worse player exodus but still confounded pundits by rising like a Phoenix to overcome the odds and succeed.  Let us take a trip back to the early 1970s and one of the worst quagmires any club in Kenya has ever found itself in.

Contentious Club elections in 1973

During the elections held on June 17 1973, Peter Anyumba was elected Chairman, beating Dan Owino who had previously held the position of patron. Zack Mbori was elected Vice Chairman with former player Mahallon Danga securing the Secretary General position.  Prior to the elections, there was a player revolt with players demanding that certain officials be elected or else they would quit.  Upon losing, Dan Owino became disgruntled. He now said he approached by senior players of the club and asked to assume the position of Chairman. He therefore asked club members to declare him interim Chairman. But members would have none of it.  It was not the first time Owino had attempted a hostile take-over. Back in 1971, Owino and a group of officials had attempted to take over the club, only to be rebuffed.  This time he was able to get almost all the Gor Mahia players to walk out. Club secretary general Mahallon Danga gave the rebelling players a deadline in which to return to the club or face expulsion. Most of them never returned. A few did.

The Creation of Gor Mahia United FC

Dan Owino's clamour for the top position was rejected by members of the executive committee who opted to expel him. Owino thus created a splinter group called Gor Mahia United FC.  Owino then proceeded to write to the Kenya Football Association (KFA) Chairman Williams Ngaah seeking entry into the league. KFA sided with the Owino group.  Gor Mahia Secretary general Mahallon Danga wrote a letter of protest to the KFA Copied to the minister in charge of sports, Masinde Muliro.  Matters became farcical during one match against Kenya Breweries when both Gor Mahia and Gor Mahia United showed up, with United having the blessing of the KFA. In essence the KFA was conspiring with the Dan Owino group to kill Gor Mahia.  But Gor Mahia fans would have none of it.  Fracas ensued at the stadium with fans raining stones and abuse at the rebel group. Police eventually forced them out of the field. The real Gor Mahia took the field and beat Kenya Breweries 3-2.

The largest mass exodus at the club.

In the end, Dan Owino was right about one thing. He had the backing of most of the senior players. Gor Mahia was hit with an exodus that would have crippled most clubs. James Sianga, William Ouma Chege, Fred Siranga, Stephen Yongo, Albert Oketch, Sospeter Otin, John Otieno

Losing Ouma “Chege” especially hit the fans hard. He had been the best striker in the country for a decade and scored with amazing consistency. Sianga had been the national team goalkeeper for an incredible 8 years. Siranga, Hatari and Yongo were all excellent players with the latter at one point becoming player-coach of Harambee stars.

Merger

This is one of the various incarnations of the team formed after the breakway. Image comes courtesy of Ben Omaya via Osieyo Steve

Gor Mahia United was short lived as it soon merged with a new team Luo FC to form the reincarnation of Luo Union FC. Officials of the team included Chairman Haggai Koyier and Patron Dan Owino. Other officials included Solomon Oiro, Obare Asiko , and Paul Odhiambo as coach.  Luo Union would become one of the strongest teams not just in Kenya but in East and Central Africa. They won the CECAFA club cup in 1976 and 1977 with Agonda Lukio being the top scorer on both occasions. They also had other stars like Charles Ochieng, the best heading specialist Kenya had seen before Peter Dawo. Internal wrangles split Luo Union into Luo Stars and Luo United briefly before disbanding and re-emerging and changing their name Re-Union under the chairmanship of Omolo Rading. The name Reunion signified the fact that the players were re-uniting after having disbanded. It was also was due to the president Moi directive in 1980 banning tribal associations. That directive also ended GEMA FC which folded and was taken over by Benham FC owned by Clement Gachanja. Maragoli FC became Imara United and Abaluhya became All Footballers Cooperative Leopards aka AFC Leopards. Gor Mahia decided to change their name to Gulf Olympic Rangers (GOR) but later managed to convince the powers that be that Gor Mahia was not a tribal name

Resurgent Gor Mahia

Back to the dark period of Gor Mahia now. Those who thought the mass exodus would weaken or kill the club were sorely mistaken. After the players left, there were rebel officials quoted in the daily papers to the effect that Gor Mahia was a team with uniforms but no players.  But what Gor Mahia had at the time was unwavering support from the fan base and a strong group of officials most notably Mahallon Danga at secretary general and Peter Anyumba as Chairman. It was Anyumba who made the famous statement to the effect that

Gor Mahia won the league in 1974 much to the dismay of its detractors. In 1975 Gor Mahia started the league with a bang beating Abaluhya Football club 5-1 in the opening match. On the last day, Gor Mahia and Luo Union were tied on 41 points. Gor Mahia had a better goal difference and should have won the league but they faltered on the last day by drawing with Western Stars. Luo Union were programmed to play Abaluhya next. Luo Union won the match. There were rumours that Abaluhya colluded with Luo Union to let them win to deny Gor Mahia the league.  In 1976, Gor Mahia took no chances. They secured the services of dangerous striker Maurice Ochieng

This was an encounter between Gor Mahia and Luo Union circa 1979 Holding the ball is Oduwo “Cobra” behind him are Lule and Obunga The Luo Union players: Eric Omonge one of the most skilled players and Edward Kiiza

 

These lessons apply today

What carried Gor Mahia from threat of death in 1973 was the unwavering support they received from fans as well as strong active leadership in particular from Peter Anyumba and Mahallon Danga. The late Danga who hailed from Seme in Kisumu county had been a former player for the original Luo Union and was a founder member of Gor Mahia in 1968 as was Peter Anyumba who at the time was director of Kenya survey and later became a member of parliament.

Two determined leaders: Anyumba and Danga

Today the club is dealing with a starting over from a massive player exodus and significant cash-flow problems occasioned by harsh treatment the Kenya Revenue Authority and being abandoned by sponsors. The action by KRA in April appeared to malicious by someone trying to send the club into dissarray.  There are lessons here for the current leaders of the club as well as the fan base. The current officials have an opportunity to pull the club out of this quagmire. Start by resolving the standoff with KRA. Since the issue arose in April fans are still in the dark as to what is going on. Officials can also stabilize the club's finances by expanding transparency. Fans must play their part by supporting the club morally as the 1973 generation did and financially via 350100. There is already evidence that complacency is kicking in from both the fan base and the officials. No one should wait until players revolt due to non-payment of salaries before reacting.  The other moral of the story is that Gor Mahia as a club has survived stronger earthquakes with enemies both internal and external. The club has always survived with the vehement support of its fan base and by strong leadership. No matter how many players come and go, the club will remain strong if the fans and Kenyans of goodwill stand by it. Remember, thus club offers positives for the entire country.


Category: Gor Mahia Stories, News

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11 Comments.

  • Otieno says:

    The problem with the current officials is transparency is lacking..look at the issue of membership there ie no campaign for membership drive bcos after getting the initial membership money they went to slumber.We really dont know the truth about how those players are leaving eg how much did they get from Akumus loan sale and what of Ade? Financially there is a problem. Remember nowadays football is money. So far the fans are really assisting the team but for the officials its yet to b seen.

  • Jakoyo says:

    This is good article….but the question posed by KCC. Coach is equally puzzling, has gor mahia evolved ?……………George Nsimbe, the Kampala City Council (KCC) coach insists their CECAFA club championship rivals Gor Mahia wont pose much challenge to the side.
    Nsimbe who is keen to add a CECAFA cup to his CV, says he has been watching a lot of Kenyan league matches and therefore knows how to approach the Kenyan champions.
    -I believe our group is tough but Gor Mahia is not a problem to me. I have been watching the Kenyan league on TV and I know how to confront them. APR is the problem because you know clubs have evolved their approach to playing, Nsimbe was quoted telling a leading Ugandan daily.

    GOR MAHIA STYLE. OF FOOTBALL IS OLD SKOOL AND. PREDICTABLE!!!!!!

  • Paw Akuche says:

    A nice piece and long live kogalo!

  • jones says:

    i think we need to support kogalo but the entire office is letting us down ,managing a team like kogalo you need to be serious

  • tom ochieng okello says:

    we need a full time marketing officer at GOR MAHIA.GOR is not a small club…we need serious people at KOGALO.

  • Joe Riaga says:

    Even when you know this club’s history, you can learn something new.

  • Eric says:

    An incredible piece. I thought Ogola Kadir came from Nakuru AllStars and not Bata Bullets.

    Kogalo for ever!!

  • peter omolloh (jayalo) says:

    Rachier knows this things am sure

  • excellent piece, i cant concur more with the chairman on that great quote, mine is just to add that as long as luo men procreate, no matter the tribe of the partner, for at the end of the day the offspring is luo, and luos MUST be kogalo fans from the first day they enter the world to their last breath. kogalo will forever have passionate fans in all generations who have the genes of the founder officials and fans who safeguarded kogalos interest through blood and sweat. thus you can bet that the current crop would do exactly what their predesecors did to safeguard GODS GOR.

  • personaly i have no much issue with the EC infact i feel that they are doing a great job under current conditions. not that i condone corrupt practices but i avoid blanket and baseless condemnations. i feel its unfair for he EC to be accused (blanketly). surely we dont expect the EC to print all over town the amount that players are sold for,courtesy tells me that that should appear on the balance sheet. to me, my beef with the official is when the team is not performing for i know that dismal performance is a result of several factors club management being at the heart of it. so guys, relax and EC dont even dream of being complacent, it same forest only different monkeys.

  • Great article for the history lovers. Only one point of correction, the game against Abaluhya in 75 was infact their second game having earlier dispatched Prison 4-1