I had put up a notice on Social Media a week earlier informing the world of my 1100th game and stating that I won’t be giving out free tee shirts.
A few people called to order tee shirts, but knowing Nigerians, some would want to order tee shirts right at the venue after sighting them and I was right.
I packed in about 10 extras and as soon as Faith Oluchi saw Ghanaman and me in them, she asked for hers, even though she was already dressed to go to the stadium.
“I thought you were not interested. I sent out a message and did not hear from you, so there is none left.”
The look on Faith’s face was as though she would cry.
“But you know I would always buy na. You should have brought it for me. During Ikwerreman1000 I did not even attend, yet I bought the tee shirts,” Faith Oluchi cried.
“But you are already dressed for the event. Are you going to change up,” I asked mischievously.
Needless to say, Faith grabbed a tee shirt, went back into her room and came back all dressed. Peter Abaje sighted us and said he needed two, one for his wife and I gleefully handed them to him.
Temple Ekpor had pre-ordered one tee shirt previously, but when he heard Peter order for his wife, he immediately asked for an extra one for his wife too. Festus Dada, at the stadium, took one too.
Achieving 1099 and 1100
At the stadium sharing a joke with colleagues
A lot of people have asked why I have been committed to counting my games and I always said it was happenstance. Apart from the fact that I had a university administrator father whom I wanted to be like, I was also very jobless.
I would sneak into my father’s study and read through his files and documents and I lived my life wanting to be like him, own my own files and keep my own records. So, when I watched my first game in 1989 between Sharks and NEPA FC, as usual, I recorded it. Also, I was very idle and jobless at the time between 1995 and 2001, so all I could do was watch football and record my games, but moving on to the present day.
Dakkada FC and Enugu Rangers ended their encounter 1-1 and once again it was a very interesting game. The thing is, that was the 5th Nigerian league game I will be watching this season and they have all been very interesting games. None, not one was boring.
Rangers scored first, and then Dakkada FC equalised. But aside from the result of the game, it was great to meet up with colleagues from way back based in Enugu- Forster Chime, the former Media Officer of the club and also Osondu Ngwude.
With Paul Bassey
Paul Bassey was my host and I wanted to pay homage, so my brief meeting with him was to present him with a commemorative tee-shirt of the day and have photo ops before his own game started. He was tensed ahead of his game against Kwara United and I teased him about it. He agreed he was tensed.
Akwa United beat Kwara United 3-1, courtesy of three quick-fire goals in the first half. By the time the away side recovered in the second half, they dominated play, but could not do enough to get a result.
Emeka Nwani, Ike Thankgod and the rest
With George Essien, Kola Daniels, Temple Elpor and Paul
The day was mostly about taking photos. Emeka Nwani stood next to me, and then next came George Essien and Kola Daniels. We talked about the game, the coaching problem in Nigerian football as well as legendary stories from the past.
Some young fans who did not know former Warri Wolves, Heartland and Rangers defender, Ike Thankgod tried to embarrass him on the terrace, but immediately, Kola Daniels, George Essien and Emeka Nwani came to his rescue, shouting at the fans and trying to explain to them who Ike Thankgod was and what he had done in the Nigerian league.
We discussed the great CAF Champions League semi-final between Heartland and Kano Pillars in 2009 with Heartland winning the first leg in Owerri 4-0 and then also winning the away leg 1-0 in Kano. Those were great days in Nigerian club football. Then we discussed the great Warri Wolves team that had Ike Thankgod, Okiemute Odah, Gbolahan Salami, Egbeta, Ikechukwu Ibenegbu, Stanley Dimgba, Oghenekaro Etebo etc.
After the game, we stopped by a small bar opposite the stadium where we were joined by FIFA referee, Ferdinand Udoh. Between Ferdinand and Kola Daniels, we could not tell who had more stories, as they regaled us with tales on their trip around Nigeria and outside the country. A lot of the stories told cannot be published, at least not by me.
The General Manager of Kwara United, Bashiru was also there and was visibly angry at their loss.
We were supposed to move to another destination at Ewet Housing Estate to drink and destroy our souls, but I beat a hasty retreat and returned to my hotel.
But the day started differently
The crew from the hotel, Peter Abaje, Faith Oluchi, Ghanaman
So, we woke up on Tuesday morning looking for a bottle of dry gin, a full bottle of unopened bottle of gin.
From my recollection of yesterday, Tonye Orabere had a bottle of Brandy, the bottle of gin, then there was a gallon of palm wine which they mixed with some stout and there were the guys there who consumed the liquor.
As we retired for the night I did not remember anyone opening the bottle of gin and I also did not remember anyone talking about it, so in the morning I called Tonye Orabere before he left for Port Harcourt, and Tonye told me clearly that he does not drink gin, so we suspected Peter Abaje.
Into his room we ran, waking him up from sleep, but he said it was not him too and pointed at Temple Ekpor as the likely culprit. Temple and Ibisaki Igani also denied knowledge of the whereabouts of that bottle of gin, so where could it have gone?
There was only one explanation for this, and it was the barman who cleared the debris after us. Lo and Behold, he had it with him. He apparently thought the drunken men from the previous night had forgotten about it, so he held on to it, maybe until we checked out and it would belong to him. We told him to return it.
Comfort FM and the good-looking fence
With the Comfort FM crew, George Essien and Festus Dada
George Essien had informed me that I had to be a guest on his show. There were two sessions- the 7 am and 10 am, so I chose the 10 am and was running late.
I actually made it there at 10:15 am and the show had just 30 minutes left to end and he threw me in. The energy was high with George Essien and Festus Dada. It was basically about the league games on the day, the Rivers United game the previous day and my landmark 1100th game later that day.
Of course, we took pictures and I was off to the next phase of my day.
I had a meeting with the chairman of Akwa United, Paul Bassey, but he called to say it would be better if we held the brief session at the stadium in between games, which seemed okay to me.
Ikwerreman1000 was great in Omoku five years ago, while 1100 had its own intrigues and peculiarities. Next up is a trip to Aba to uncover the issues behind the war between the ultras of Sharks and Enyimba between 1999 and 2004.