Tuesday, February 25, 2014

El-Clasico Of Western Nigeria

MR. SEGUN ADENUGA is a veteran sports journalist and a passionate follower of Nigerian football. He is also a mobile encyclopedia as events that happened many decades ago remain fresh in his memory and he recalls them with consummate ease.

When I saw Stationery Stores versus Shooting Stars on the 2014 fixture list of the Nigeria National League Division ‘B’ for this week, I decided to call Mr. Adenuga to share some of his reminiscences about the two clubs with Soccertalk readers.

For the benefit of young soccer fans who may not be quite familiar with the two clubs, it suffices to educate them that these are two of the most famous club sides in Nigerian football history. As for the older fans who watched Stores and Shooting face each other in the past, Adenuga’s narration must elicit some great memories. Enjoy…

THE rivalry between Stationery Stores and Shooting Stars dates back to the early 1960s. In early 1962, Stationery Stores were just a commercial league team and in 1967-68 when they were officially launched, they started playing competitive football and that was the year they first played against Shooting Stars, then known as Ibadan Lions.

I remember a particular match that was played in the mid-1980s at Onikan Stadium. Shooting Stars scored first but the match ended 3-3.

It was very dramatic. Over the years, both teams had met in crucial matches in the league and Challenge Cup with intrigues here and there. The rivalry was very tough because Stores always found it difficult to beat Shooting Stars at Lekan Salami Stadium or Liberty Stadium. And when they met in Lagos, Shooting also always found it difficult to beat Stores at Onikan Stadium.

Virtually, the whole of Ibadan would come to Lagos to watch both teams play and the same thing happened in Ibadan, too. We Stores fans aways tried to outnumber the home supporters in Ibadan. We would be monitored right from the entry point to the final point in the Stadium. Unarguably, I think the two teams remain some of the best club sides this country has produced. They are big crowd pullers.

Until the advent of Enugu Rangers in the 1970s, it was always Shooting Stars and Stores and the arrival of Rangers made it a tribal war between them and 3SC. I remember when they played a continental match in Kaduna in 1977, it almost caused a rancour in the country.

Most recently in 1992 when Stores won the national league playing 30 matches and losing only four,  Shooting Stars games were part of the matches they lost. Stationery Stores is not just a football team but an institution that is well recognised. I think Stores’ return to the league is a welcome development to Lagosians and the entire country. Stationery Stores versus Shooting Stars this season will be the El-Clasico of Western Nigeria.

Great Past Encounters
There was a match between Rangers and Stores that ended in a fiasco in Ibadan and a life was even lost. Igeniwari George, the younger brother to Finidi George, lost his life in that FA Cup match. I can not readily remember the date but it was a tough match that ended in a big tragedy. It was a tragic event because Stores were being branded trouble makers anywhere they went because they had very fanatical supporters.

I can liken Stores encounters with Shooting Stars to Ashanti Kotoko and Hearts of Oak of Ghana. Anywhere or anytime these two teams played, there just must be casualties. Some people must be taken to hospital and some people must die. I have watched them numerous times in the course of my professional assignment. Hooliganism also happens in some other countries like England, Spain and the rest. It happens in Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and many more. But I hope there will be no casualties at Onikan on Thursday when Stores meet Shooting again.

The struggle for supremacy in Western Nigeria between Stores and 3SC is real. But without being biased, I will rate Shooting Stars a little above Stores in terms of victories recorded, I think they have a slight edge compared to Rangers who are not close to Stores.

On Israel Adebajo vs Lekan Salami Rivalry
I really don’t think there was any rivalry between the late Israel Adebajo, founder of Stationery Stores and the late Lekan Salami who was a major inspiration behind Shooting Stars. Israel Adebajo was the shy type who would not like to be noticed at match venues unlike Lekan Salami who watched a lot of matches. Adebajo was never aggressive or emotional so I can say there was no rivalry between them. They were both very passionate football administrators who had the interest of the game at heart.

Adebajo was the first to buy a bus for a club. He paid salaries to players and he was also a friend to Lekan Salami Adebajo was the one who made it possible for Ghanaians to play football in Nigeria. He fraternized with the Ghana FA and through that, he was able to bring a lot of them like Baba Ali and co. to Nigeria to play.

He appointed Mr. Ikpeazu as his manager and it was a wonderful period then. In fact, I can tell you that those who started Stores were more of Ibo extraction than Yoruba.

In terms of producing players for the Nigerian national team, Stationery Stores had no rival and up till now, their record is yet to be equalled because I know that at a time, Stores had about twelve players in the national team. When they got to Mexico Olympics in 1968, nine of the 12 Stores players were featured  in a game against Brazil which ended 3-3.

It’s on record that 3SC have also produced many international players like Segun Odegbami, Idowu Otubusi, Muda Lawal, Orlando John, Best Ogedengbe and others but not as many as Stationery Stores.

The only major transfer controversy between the clubs that I can remember was when 3SC wanted to take Wakilu Oyenuga, but it was amicably resolved. The major problem was with Rangers when they were trying to snatch Dotun Alatise from Stores. At the end of the day, Alatise had his way and he became the first Yoruba man to play for Rangers.

Concerning the great rivalry between supporters of both clubs, oh, don’t talk about that. I can tell you it was always a war. Ibadan people know Stores supporters just as we know them, too. It was like going to war.

It is ironic that this year 2014, two of the greatest football clubs in Nigeria history are now fighting for their pride in the lower division of our football league. But I can assure you that it will be fireworks all the way at Onikan Stadium on Thursday, February 27.

Well, I expect an exciting match and I will urge every Lagosian to come out and support Super Stores once again. Up Super!

Club Statistics

Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC)
Nickname: Oluyole Warriors
Battle cry: Up Sooting!
*National League Champions: 1976, 1980, 1983, 1995, 1998
*FA Challenge Cup Winners: 1971(as WNDC), 1977, 1979, 1995
*African Cup Winners Cup Winner: 1976
*CAF Cup Winner: 1992
*West African Club Championship (WAFU Cup): 1998.
Note: Shooting Stars were the first Nigerian club to win the African Cup Winners Cup and the CAF Cup.
Selected Notable Players: Samuel Ojebode, Mudashiru Lawal, Segun Odegbami, Felix Owolabi, Taiwo Ogunjobi, Best Ogedegbe, Rashidi Yekini, Ike Shorunmu, Mutiu Adepoju, Eric Ejiofor, Abiodun Baruwa, Ajibade Babalade, Bosun Ayeni, Duke Udi, Gbenga Okunowo, Olumide Harris, Femi Opabunmi, Idowu Otubusin, Moses Otorin, Segun Atere, Tunde Bamidele, Tony Alegbe, Patrick Pascal.

Stationary Stores (Flaming Flamingos)
Nickname: Adebajo Babes
Battle cry: Super Stores; Up Flaming!
*National League champions: 1977, 1992
*FA Challenge Cup Winners: 1967, 1968, 1982, 1990
*18 times Lagos State Challenge Cup winners.
Selected Notable Players: Sam Opone, Peter Fregene, Amusa Shittu, Peter Rufai, Ike Shorunmu, Augustine Ofuokwu, Peter Anieke, Anthony Igwe, Baba Ali, Sani Muhammed, Segun Olumodeji, Willy Andrew, Muhammed Lawal, Taiwo Oloyede, Collins Ebitimi, Teslim Fatusi, Arthur Moses, Abdul Sule.
Did You Know?
Current Super Eagles goalkeeper trainer Ike Shorunmu is one of the very few players to play for both Stationery Stores and Shooting Stars.

Take Heart, Aisha
My heart-felt condolence goes to my colleague, Aisha Falode, on the very sad loss of her son, TOBA FALODE on Saturday, February 15, 2014. The news left me speechless. May the almighty God who giveth and taketh grant Aisha the fortitude to bear the loss, amen.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mumini, I enjoyed every bit of time I spent at Onikan stadium, and am just hoping and praying that the follower ship and supporter ship of old days can comeback to the Nigerian league, most especially the NNNL where we discovered the likes of Atanda Yusuf "Ayila" of Union bank. But, sincerely, my fear is there, about the state of our pitches and the standard of the current younger players which is nothing to write home about at this time. Olamide Fafure JOHN HOLT PLC