Wednesday, 24 February 2016

My Jealousy: ''In the days of Stationery Stores''

By Amos Joseph
Okay! this is what you will find in the first paragraph on Wikipedia when you check for the words ''Stationery stores'' on google. The team Stationery Stores was founded in 1958 by Israel Adebajo, who ran the Nigeria office of the Stationery Stores Supply Company. They immediately established themselves as one of the dominant teams in the area and country, supplying the bulk of the first editions of the national team and winning a total 13 Lagos State Challenge Cups, the preliminary round for the Nigerian FA Cup.

I also learned that the team was in the top division of Nigerian football between 1973 and 1993. Within this period, the team won laurels and was loved by the Lagos fans for their entertaining style of play.

The famous Stationery stores was one of the teams that did great exploits back in the days with some rivalries to the delight of its ever-supportive and demanding fans. To mention, I heard Enugu Rangers was one of the teams’ fierce rivals.

Every time I hear the word ''in the days of Stores'', in my mind I try to imagine what exactly thrilled the entire country about this team that it still gets mentioned. From the records, the team has some members of its squad in the national team.

Personally, it was important for me to be at the stadium on Sunday 21st February, 2016 to watch Ikorodu United play host to Abia Warriors. Not because I had nothing to do on the day but because I love the game, I would report and most importantly, be a part of history.

The people of Lagos have not had a team in a while, and here come teams (including Mountain of Fire & Miracles Ministry FC) who are have promised to meet up with the expectation of the ever-demanding Lagos fans as they play in the top-tier of the country’s football league. Those who have been around or say born in the early times before the 80s often use this cliché which I sometimes get jealous of, ''in the days of Stores''.

Honestly, the most used words on day one fixture at the Onikan Water-front was, ''laye Stores'' meaning ''in the days of Stores''. This did nothing but to rekindle my jealously, again! In fact, as soon as the visitors Akwa United took the lead, the stadium went silent. You could hear and perceive the hissing, sighing, and other body or say sign language from the disappointed home fans. Ha! ''Laye stores''.

The home team, ''Oga'' as they are fondly called, didn’t come to the party in the first half, as they were dominated by the Warriors from the East. Right there and then, the news came of the exploit of the Prayer Warriors (MFM FC) who were leading by two goals to nil on away soil in Katsina Ala, the temporary home of Nassarawa United. Something to cheer about you’d say!

Talking about Oga, prior to kick-off, the Oga at the top i.e Chairman of the club Babatunde Akindele spoke to Channels Sports on Sunday afternoon, promising that the club will play good football to the delight of the fans. Right there, I began to wonder if this is the good football. Although, the confidence and some individual skills exhibited by the players showed that the team has something to offer. Apparently, no joker would make it through to the topflight league in Nigeria but I hope the team would not be pressured by the fans.

The stadium was thrown into a jubilant mood when the home side, Ikorodu United grabbed the equalizer in the second half to put the match at per. How fans can change!

Back in the days, Lagos was not all about Stores. We had clubs like Leventis, Nepa, Julius Berger, ACB, and a few others even till NPA now Warri Wolves. Today, it is Ikorodu United and MFM FC, let us throw our weight behind the teams, come out in number and support Oga and the Prayer Warriors to the heights.

Who says this generation cannot offer something better than ''the good old days''? Lagos, this is not a sponsored or paid post to drum support for any club in particular, but I can categorically say that you would never be disappointed paying N200 to watch them display their finesse and panache.  Eko o'ni baje!

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