Tuesday, 23 August 2016

How The legend Began: Gor Mahia's Incredible Debut Season

After wrangles that had earlier hit the larger Luo Union Sports Club and the eventual formation of Gor Mahia, the team got down to business for the 1968 league season. The league was made up of 9 teams, namely;

1. Gor Mahia - Nairobi
2. Abaluhya (later AFC Leopards) - Nairobi
3. Liverpool (later Mwenge FC) - Mombasa
4. Nakuru All Stars - Nakuru
5. Kisumu Hot Stars - Kisumu
6. Ramogi (later Lake Warriors) - Mombasa
7. Maragoli (Later Imara FC) - Nairobi
8. Feisal FC - Mombasa
9. Maseno Harambee - Kisumu

Having carried over the legendary William Ouma "Chege" from Luo Union, Gor Mahia was expected to challenge for the league title. However it was expected that either one of the four teams, strong contenders Nakuru All Stars, perennial favourites Abaluhya and Mombasa's Liverpool and Feisal would emerge the winners. Gor Mahia would however begin the campaign in April by beating favourites Nakuru All Stars 2-1, with Walter Molo creating a little bit of history by becoming the first person to score for Gor Mahia in a competitive league match. The second game was the first "Mashemeji derby" as it has now come to be known, and William Ouma "Chege" bagged the first double for a Gor Mahia player as Abaluhya succumbed to a 2-1 loss. By the time Stephen Yongo scored a hattrick in a 6-2 demolition of Liverpool, it was clear that Gor Mahia were now title favourites as they went on an 8 game unbeaten streak. It took an extra-ordinary performance by Nakuru to stop them on their tracks, beating them 4-3 despite Chege's first league hattrick for Gor Mahia. Nakuru All Stars thus became the first team to beat Gor Mahia in a league match, a week after Ramogi had become the first team to deny them maximum points by holding them to a 1-1 draw.

Yongo, first hattrick for Gor Mahia, finished the season with 7 goals

A run of 3 consecutive wins ensured that Gor were in the driving seat for the title though Feisal would attempt to apply the brakes by becoming the first team to keep a clean sheet against K'Ogalo after winning 1-0 in Mombasa. Abaluhya FC were however determined not to let Gor win the title without a fight and had stayed within touching distance by matching Gor Mahia's recent results. Going into the penultimate round, Abaluhya needed to win their remaining two games and pray that Gor slip up before derby, set as the final game of the season, would decide the title. That penultimate game was against Kisumu Hot Stars in Kisumu while Gor faced off against Maseno. Kisumu Hot Stars beat the fancied Abaluhya 2-1 and Gor Mahia (playing without leading scorer Chege who had began a 9-month jail sentence for assault), made sure they finished the game by thumping Maseno 5-2. Gor Mahia thus become champions for the first time with the derby, ending 1-1 with goals from current Kisii Senator Chris Obure and Noah Wanyama, becoming a formality. The record was played 16, won 12, lost 2, drawn 2, scored 47 goals and  conceded 21 goals. And thus began the legend...

With this title it looked as though Gor Mahia was set to dominate the league but then the league was not played in 1969 (despite constant erroneous reporting by the media that it was won by Nakuru All Stars) and with the establishment of Kenya Breweries and the emergence of a stronger Abaluhya in the early 1970s, Gor would have to wait until 1974 for their next title. The rest, as they say, is history...

Link to the complete results for the 1968 season

Some interesting trivia from the first season for trivia lovers

  • Walter Molo became the first person to score a league goal for Gor Mahia
  • Stephen Yongo became the first person to score a league hattrick for Gor Mahia
  • Ramogi became the first team to deny Gor Mahia a league victory
  • Nakuru All Stars became the first team to hand Gor Mahia a defeat in the league
  • Feisal became the first team to keep a clean sheet against Gor Mahia in a league game
  • Gor Mahia won the first "Mashemeji" derby bragging rights
  • William Ouma Chege was Gor Mahia's first top scorer in a league season (19 goals), a feat recently matched by Michael Olunga (and Peter Dawo in 1987) and only bettered by three other players since then. This feat is even more incredible because it was a 16 game season and he missed the final two games because of a prison sentence
  • William Ouma Chege became the first player to score 4 goals for Gor Mahia in a single league game

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