BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
This Thursday, it is 50 years that Israel Adebajo, the founder of the oldest surviving club in Nigeria, Stationary Stores FC of Lagos, passed on.
Till the last decade, the Stationery Stores, which he founded from the ashes of Oluwole Philips FC in 1958 was Nigeria’s most fanatically supported sports club.
He established the Nigerian Office Stationery Supplies Stores which football arm, was simply called Stationery Stores. It has appellations such as “Flaming Flamingos”, “Super Stores” and Adebajo Babes”.
Adebajo, one of the pillars of the Nigeria Football Association in the late 1950s to the middle of 1960s, died on July 25, 1969, few weeks before Stationery Stores’ final match in the then Challenge Cup.
The famed Super Stores drew players and fans across the country and sometimes too, from Ghana and other West African countries. He had what could be the first professional club in Nigeria as players were drawn from near and wide.
So strong was his club that it supplied nine of the starting eleven for Nigeria at the Mexico 1968 Olympics which was the first time Nigerian footballers had the opportunity to grace a global stage.
Even with nine of the Stores’ players representing Nigeria in Mexico, the club still had enough pool of talents to continue in domestic football competition.
In the March 26, 1961 election into the Nigeria Football Association, Israel Adebajo emerged as the treasurer of the football governing body.
He nurtured the Super Stores to win the Challenge Cup twice in a row and was at the brink of a hat trick in 1969 before his death dealt a devastating blow on the club.