BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
In 2012, The FA in England decided to trace and honour the living descendants of the eight founding fathers that created the body 150 years earlier.
At the end of the exercise, a total of 16 relatives of the Founding Fathers of football were invited to a special ceremony at Wembley Stadium, where a Blue Plaque was unveiled that pays tribute to the historical significance of their work in creating the game of football and the first football association in the world. What a lasting tribute those pioneers got.
Here in Nigeria, the labour of our heroes past must not be in vain. Sports Village Square also salutes the founders of the Nigeria Football Association whose efforts many Nigerians are benefiting from today.
Henry A. Porter Esq., F.R.I.BA, the President
H.A. Porter’s picture unavailable
Henry A. Porter was the founding president of the Nigerian FA. He was also the founding chairman of the Lagos Amateur Football Association in 1932. He was a Scot and the Senior Architect at the Public Works Department. He designed the Centenary Hall, Abeokuta which was opened on October 28, 1930. When the Nigerian Football Association was founded in Broad Street, Lagos on August 21, 1933, Porter was appointed the pioneer president.
But so far, it has proved impossible to get his image. Only documents signed by him were obtained from the National Archives, Ibadan.
From his signatures, ‘H’ could be deciphered to be Henry which was later corroborated by information supplied by Peter Kent who responded to enquiry sent to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
But his middle name has a little controversy. While RIBA gives it as Arthur, another source, the book “RIBA Directory of British Architects 1834-1914” gives the middle name as ‘Augustus’.
Upon further enquiry to RIBA’s Peter Kent, he affirmed the middle name was Arthur.
“All references to him in our members directories (50 plus years worth) and the nomination papers refer to him as ‘Henry Arthur Porter’. The only source which calls him ‘Augustus’ is the RIBA Directory of British Architects 1834-1914 – usually super-reliable – but in this case I am sure it has made a mistake”.
Porter was elected a fellow of RIBA in 1927. His registration number was 2498. The Directory of British Architects also noted that Porter was elected to RIBA as an Associate with number 1827 in 1907.
The Dictionary of Scottish Architects adds that Porter was the one that trained and proposed Thomas Scott his deputy at PWD in Lagos to be licensed by the Royal Institute of British Architects after 12 years of licentiateship.
Porter also proposed Thomas Scott as a fellow of RIBA but the latter was only admitted into the institute on February 13, 1940 after Porter had returned to Britain.
At the moment, the Dictionary of Scottish Architects also had no more information on Porter.
The information released had been from the British Architectural Library/Royal RIBA Dictionary British Architects 1834-1914.
His date of birth in 1885 is also unknown. But Peter Kent of RIBA informed that Porter described himself as 42 on March 14, 1927.
While in Nigeria, he wrote an application on December 1, 1933 to the Chief Secretary to the colonial government of Nigeria for a £300 loan to develop a playing ground for the 13 clubs playing in the Lagos Amateur League.
The 13 clubs were: three teams belonging to UAC, two owned by Africs, Muslims, Spadlings, Post & Telegraphs, Medical & Health, Lagos Athletic, French Club and two teams of Olympic.
From the records obtained on UK citizens travelling overseas from the National Archives, London, Porter apparently left for Nigeria aboard “Olenda”, a ship operated by British and African Steam Navigation Company Limited on March 21, 1900 from Liverpool to Forçados, a small town in Burutu LGA of Delta State.
In 1934 at the maiden Annual General Meeting held on February 18, he was unanimously re-elected as president of the Nigeria Football Association.
He was believed to be the brain behind the PWD which was the oldest-organised football club, especially in Lagos area.
The PWD was formed in 1929. His name suddenly disappeared from Nigerian newspapers after 1934. He may have left Nigeria in 1936 as passengers’ manifest of the ship: “Accra” operated by Elder Dempster Lines Limited, listed him among the passengers that arrived to Liverpool from Port Harcourt on March 3, 1936.
Also, all his addresses offered by RIBA from 1936 were in the United Kingdom. According to Peter Kent, Porter died aged 75 on April 11, 1960.
He may have died in Tonbridge District of Kent in UK if the report concerning one Henry A. Porter in www.findmypast.com has anything to do with him.
Frederick Baron Mulford, Vice President
Mulford is the best known in the football circle, among the founders of Nigeria Football Association 85 years ago.
Fondly called “Baba Eko”, Frederick Baron Mulford was often referred to as father of Nigerian football. He died in Lagos on September 3, 1949, four days after the very first set of Nigerian-selected team, the famed UK Tourists, arrived England.
According to a family tree constructed by one John Bird Monk, Mulford was born in January 1881 in Southampton, Hampshire in England.
He came to Nigeria having sailed aboard “Aro” an Elder-Dempster and Company Limited ship that departed Liverpool for Lagos on April 7, 1906. He came to Nigeria as a junior assistant in the firm, Lagos Stores, which was later absorbed by UAC in 1929.
While at the Lagos Stores, Mulford rose to the position of deputy to the head agent, Hon. A.M. Harvey who was also a member of Legislative Council then tagged LEGICO.
Mulford left the Lagos Stores when it merged with UAC. He was appointed as the Business Manager of the Nigerian Daily Times in 1933. He was also the sports editor of the publication.
Mulford was also the games master at CMS Grammar School, Nigeria’s premier high school. He later moved to Kings College and by 1914, he was already organising weekly matches with European teams in Lagos.
His greatest legacy was the presentation of a trophy to Lagos and Districts Amateur Football Association (LDAFA) which is today’s Lagos FA, for a knockout competition: The Lagos War Memorial Cup.
The Lagos War Memorial Cup later became Mulford Memorial Cup and got rechristened as Oba Cup, following Stores’ eternal win of the trophy in 1965.
Mulford was buried in Lagos at the Ikoyi Cemetery on September 4, 1949, the day after his death at Creek Hospital.
According to a tribute by Ernest Ikoli published in the Daily Times edition of September 5, 1949, Mulford was never married.
Sir Adeyemo Alakija, Vice President
Alakija was a Nigerian of Brazilian origin. His original name was Placido Adeyemo Assumpcao. He was born to Ribeiro and Maximiliana Assumpcao in 1884, the son of the Brazilian families of Lagos and one of the black repatriates from Brazil. He was able to trace his roots to Abeokuta.
He was one of the founding directors of Daily Times of Nigeria which had its offices on the same Broad Street where the NFA was founded. Daily Times was perhaps the only source of information on the early days of the Nigeria Football association.
The newspaper was thanked for the assistance offered at the first Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the association in 1934. The newspaper’s link with the foundation of NFA probably had to do with the involvement of Alakija, a prominent figure in the foundation of both organisations. He was the founding chairman of board of Nigerian Printing and Publishing Company, publishers of Daily Times in June 1926 and also founding father of the NFA. Alakija was re-elected vice president at the 1934 A G M. He died on May 10, 1952.
Dr Isaac Ladipo Oluwole, Vice President
Dr. Isaac Ladipo Oluwole was a medical doctor and the son of the Anglican Bishop, Isaac Oluwole. A pioneer student of King’s College and the school’s first senior prefect he trained at the University of Glasgow and made important improvements to public health in Nigeria. In 1925 he was appointed the first African assistant Medical Officer of Health in Lagos and also founded the first school of Hygiene in Nigeria to train sanitary inspectors. In 1940, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
He was the General Secretary of Lagos Amateur Football Association , LAFA (later LDAFA) for 17 years. He made the facilities of the health office available to the association and the NFA in which he was deeply involved till his death at age 61 on May 4, 1953, a year after Alakija passed on.
When in 1934, the Lagos Amateur Football Association approched the government for a £300 loan to construct a football ground for Lagos clubs to play their league matches, Dr. Oluwole stood surety for £15. The gvernment approved the loan which initially was to be repaid in five years. But on December 21, 1933, Dr. Oluwole wrote to the government to ask for extension of the repayment to eight or 10 years. The government granted the request and extended the loan repayment to eight years. He was recognized as the father of public health in Nigeria.
Joseph Mead, Honorary Secretary/Treasurer
Joseph Mead was the first secretary of the NFA in 1933. His identity was a mystery until the Unilever Archives in London provided photograph of him and his full name. The meaning of the initial “J” which appeared in all newspaper references to him was later given as Joseph.
According to the Daily Times accounts, he worked with the firm – UAC at Martins Street, Lagos. Checks at Unilever in UK revealed that he joined the company in February 1929. Great thanks to Helen Onsworth, the archivist at Unilever UK Central Resources Limited who assisted in unveiling the convener of the meeting that led to the foundation of a central football body in Nigeria.
From the information on Mead, he became the first secretary of the NFA at age 26. On leaving Nigeria after working with UAC in Lagos and Ibadan, he was transferred to the then Gold Coast (now Ghana) where he worked in Kumasi and Takoradi. According to information from Unilever in UK, Mead married on January 23, 1939 before resigning from the firm in 1949.
Checks by www.sportsvillagesquare.com at the National Archives of the United Kingdom revealed that Mead must have arrived Nigeria in 1929 having left Liverpool for Lagos on February 26. His occupation in the manifest of the ship was given as “assistant”. He was part of the European football league in Lagos, playing for UAC team.
Shortly before the August 21, 1933 meeting which Mead called, he was involved in an accident. Unilever Archives disclosed that their records showed his date of birth as March 22, 1907. He would therefore have been 73 years; the day Nigeria beat Algeria to win the Africa Nations Cup for the first time in 1980. Joseph Mead left for Sekondi-Takoradi in Gold Coast (now Ghana) as District Manager of UAC in March 1946.