BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
Another Nigeria national cup is here. As it has been in the past the various media including the online are already littered with incorrect past results owing to improper record keeping in the country.
Human memory is grossly inadequate for documentation of statistical and historical information. As pervasive as the interest in the Nigeria national cup has been, errors dot the all-time results published yearly in the newspapers about the national premier competition.
The first error has been the assumption that the football governing body of the country started with the national cup competition which was called Governor’s Cup at its inception in 1945, hence the usual claim that the NFA/NFF was founded in 1945.
LDAFA and not NFA, called for entries for the maiden edition of Governor’s Cup in July 1945
For the records, the Governor’s Cup which has variously changed names from Governor’s Cup to Aiteo Cup through Challenge Cup, Coca-Cola Cup and Federation Cup, was competition designed for Lagos club sides.
The advertisement for entries as published in the Daily Times edition of July 30, 1945 speaks clear on it. Also, Frank G. Lloyd, the chairman of the Lagos & Districts Amateur Football Association (LDAFA) in an article published in the Daily Times edition of November 6, 1946 clarified the issue.
He wrote: “This season (1946), as an experiment, invitations were issued by the LDAFA to numerous provincial associations. It is also intended that the Nigeria Football Association shall shortly be re-organised in order that it may provide a more effective vehicle for the experience gained in Lagos to provincial association.”
Frank G. Lloyd, the chairman of the Lagos & Districts Amateur Football Association (LDAFA) wrote in Daily Times of November 6, 1946 that LDAFA were the orgaanisers of Governor’s Cup.
It was in 1947, when Captain D.H. Holley became the LDAFA boss and also emerged the chairman of the NFA that the NFA began to organise the Governor’s Cup competition. At the annual general meeting of the LDAFA on February 26, 1948, Captain Holley announced the transfer of the Governor’s Cup to the NFA.
On the issue of past winners, often mistaken are the results of the 1946 to 1948 editions. For 1946, the result often circulated to the public has Lagos Railways beating Port Harcourt 3-1. The result of the match played at the then Association Ground, Onikan on November 12, 1946 was 3-0.
More astonishing is that of 1947 final in which Marine is often reported to have beaten Lagos Railways 3-1. The national final was played on October 6 had Marine beating Zik Athletics Club (Ibadan) 1-0. ZAC Ibadan was one of the numerous clubs established by Dr. Nnamidi Azikiwe. The Lagos version of ZAC later became the defunct ACB Football Club.
Also in 1948 on November 7, Lagos Railway beat Port Harcourt 1-0 in what was the first to be organised by the then NFA. Peter Anieke scored the lone goal for Railways and the referee of the match was Harry Marshall. The result often mistakenly published has Warri XI as the losing finalists.
In 1950, the firm UAC produced the two finalists – Lagos UAC beating Port Harcourt UAC 3-2. Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia reports that the 1951 edition was contested by Lagos Railways and Mighty Jets. The latter was not in existence then. The team beaten 3-2 by Lagos Railways was Jos. The same mistake is often repeated in the 1962 to 1967 editions.
In 1954, Calabar is often reported to have beaten Kano XI by 3-0. It was the late Oyo Orok Oyo, former CAF and FIFA member that first drew attention to the erroneous result in 1993. A man with who could give almost a photographic account of events recalled that the 1954 Challenge Cup final was the first that he watched and gave the result as 4-3 in favour of his supported team, Calabar.
Checks from newspaper account that reported the match contemporarily showed that Oyo Orok Oyo was right. In the following year, Port Harcourt is often reported to have beaten Warri 4-1. The losing finalists for 1955 were the Kano selected side.
Also, in 1957, Railways beat Zaria 5-0 and not 5-1. The match played on September 28 was the first final in which an own goal was scored. The culprit was Bayo Sanwo whose goal in the 51st minute increased the tally to 3-0 for Railways.
In 1959, Ibadan XI beat Lagos Police 2-1 and not 1-0 as often recalled. Similarly, the result of the 1960 final match played on September 3 was 4-1 in favour of Lagos ECN against Ibadan XI and not 5-2 as often published.
In 1968, Stationery Stores played against Jos Plateau and not Warri as claimed by Wikipedia and always culled by Nigerian publications. Sports Village Square recalls that the 1968 final played on January 18, 1969 was the second deadlocked final match to be replayed after that of 1961.
In the 1968 final played in January 1969, Jos Plateau, perennial losers, were at it again. But Stores rallied to a 2-2 draw in a match of four penalty kicks in which only one was converted.
Scores were 1-1 when the penalty spree began. First, Inua Rigogo of Jos Plateau caught Stores’ Tony Igwe’s penalty kick. Then Jos went ahead on the dot of 45 minutes.
They could have consolidated the lead when a penalty kick was awarded. But Right Half Back, Jinadu, hit the post. Eleven minutes later, the third penalty of the match was awarded Stores but Sam Opone shot wide. Penalty number four scored by Stores’ Baba Alli put the game into replay on February 15, 1969 Stores won 3-1.
Thus, there were three Challenge Cup final matches in 1969. Two were for the 1968 edition and the third was for 1969 in which Ibadan XI beat Warri 5-1, the last time a hat trick was recorded in the final.
The hero was Felix Adedeji. The hat trick achievers before him were Tesilimi Balogun of Lagos Pan Bank in the 6-1 defeat of Warri in 1952, Port Harcourt’s Frank Uwalaka in 6-0 humiliation of Federal United in 1958.