The Federation Cup and Nigerian Football: A Tribute to the Nation's Oldest Football Competition

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A comprehensive, panoramic view of Nigeria's oldest sports competition. This book traces the history of the Federation Cup through its life history, spanning over seventy years. Through its previous formats- The War Memorial Cup, The Governor's Cup, Challenge Cup and the Coca Cola FA Cup. It also covers the history of Nigerian football, from the playing fields of Victorian and Edwardian Lagos, Calabar and Zaria in the early 1900s, through the early Football competitions, such as the Beverley, Trenchard and Lagos City Cup competitions. The growth of football administration, the great players and games of the competition through the years are also covered. A tribute to the historical importance of the Federation Cup. The book overall, celebrates the nation's incredible football pedigree. Comments: "A useful resource in documenting the nation's football history and a very commendable effort" - Alhaji Aminu Maigari- President of the Nigerian Football Federation "A historic masterpiece..." - Seyi Akinwunmi- Chairman-Lagos State FA "As a licensed agent with the FA here in England, I am always happy to see anything that adds to the lexicon of Nigerian Football. I will be able to share this book with my clients and now they will get a better picture of the reasons why we produced the likes of Jay Jay Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo and now John-Mikel Obi and Osaze Odenwingie"- Ayo Alli -International Football and Digital Media consultant "I have played football all my life, and I believe in the power of football as a great platform for unity, sportsmanship, fitness and team-building on the African continent, which my foundation- Africa 10 has promoted. Thus when Obi Asika told me about this book, I was enthused and more so to read and find out from it, that my maternal grand-father Sir Adeyemo Alakija was a founding member of the first Nigerian Football Association in 1933. An excellent work"- Kojo Annan- Africa 10 Foundation "It was great to see my father Asuquo Ekpe in this book. He was one of the first generation of great players and captained Nigeria. I can now sit with him and tell him his work was documented and their collective efforts were not in vain"- Ivor Ekpe- CEO Gradient Hill (Nigeria) Ltd

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1. INTRODUCTION

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The Federation Cup has had a long and varied lifespan, pre-dating the very existence of Nigeria as a nation. For football fans and many others, it symbolises one of the strongest, enduring rallying points in the countrys sporting history.

The competition has as its main hallmarks its longevity and its consistency since its inception 67 years ago. The only year the event was not held, was 1973 and that was deliberate because it clashed with the epochal All-Africa Games of that year. Otherwise, this competition has endured the changing tides of Nigerian history even braving the turbulence of the political crisis of 1966 and, more significantly, the Nigerian Civil War of 19671970.

By its very nature, the Cup is an inspiring symbol of the endurance and durability of Nigerian nationhood through all manner of circumstances. The competition in our view celebrates not only the prowess and pride of the teams competing on the pitch, but also Nigerias football heritage a heritage which is manifested in the many achievements of our club and national teams over the years. The same heritage of which this competition has for 67 years, been the quiet bedrock.

 

2. ORIGINS OF THE COMPETITION 1904–1945

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The bare feet of Justin Onwudiwe, UK Tourists 1949

One of the most difficult questions facing football historians has been the exact origin of the game in Nigeria. There have been many theories put forward by experts, most of them plausible and based on very sound premises, but unfortunately none of them has conclusively answered the question, where and when was football first played in Nigeria?

There are two main schools of thought, which for the ease of reference will be described here as the Lagos and Calabar schools. You will find that this definition is almost literal. We will start with:

a. The Lagos School Frederick Baron Mulford

One dominant theory is that the game of football was first introduced into Nigeria, via Lagos, at the end of the 19th century, by British servicemen, expatriate civil servants, itinerant sailors and traders, who would organise themselves into informal teams for matches. As Peter Alegi confirms in African Soccerscapes, football grew pretty much anywhere Europeans were settled. However, there is no available documentation of any of these matches, not surprisingly, given they were reputedly informal events.

 

3. THE GOVERNOR’S CUP 1945–1959

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By the later part of 1939, Lagos teams had been competing for the Mulford Cup and other cups, for a number of years, when a new dimension was added to the series of football competitions that football fans enjoyed.

The Second World War had just started in 1939 and Great Britain, along with the allies, had joined the war against the axis powers led by Germany. Troops of the Nigeria Regiment were transferred to War Office control (which essentially meant the Colonial Government in Lagos transferred control of the Regiment to the direct control of the War Office in London). Nigerian soldiers were first despatched as part of the 1st West Africa Infantry Brigade to Somaliland (now Somalia) in July 1940, in response to invasion by Italian troops. Nigerian troops recaptured Mogadishu in February 1941, famously pursuing the retreating Italian troops for 17 days. Nigerian troops were also to see action later in the war between 1943 and 1945 as part of the 81st and 82nd (West Africa) Divisions over 40,000 Nigerian soldiers were deployed to fight the Japanese troops who had invaded Burma.

 

4. THE CHALLENGE CUP/COCA COLA FA CUP 1960–2008

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Nigeria gained its independence in 1960 and with that came a new sense of national identity. Nigeria had its own flag now, its own Government (albeit with the Queen as Head of State for a further three years). The mood of the country was optimistic and vibrant.

1960 was the year that quite a few other African countries also gained their independence. As was, and probably is still, customary, there were celebratory matches commemorating independence in various countries. Nigeria celebrated the event by inviting the Black Stars of Ghana for a friendly match although a different result would have been preferable (Nigeria lost 30).

There was a strongly nationalistic atmosphere, with the country taking its seat at the United Nations. There was also a deliberate and quite proper in my view Nigerianisation of administrative structures in the civil service and other institutions. Football administration was not left out. As far back as 1955, Alex Quist had been the first Nigerian to head the NFA and in I959, Mr O. Ogunmuyiwa (a magistrate), took over from Quist. In 1960, Mr Ogunmuyiwa handed responsibility over to Nigerias first post-independence NFA Chairman- Mr Godfrey K.J. Amachree QC, a well- respected lawyer and administrator.

 

6. COMPETITION FACTS AND STATISTICS 1945–2011

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We shall now examine some facts and statistics, underlying the competition over the last 66 years of its existence. These statistics have been based on final matches, due to the dearth of complete records during the various qualifying rounds over the years. Whilst some Football associations- especially Lagos, have fairly comprehensive data, the same could not be said of all and the need for uniformity has thus guided the focus on final matches, which are at least reliable.

The analysis of goals statistics has been restricted to goals scored in finals and has not included goals scored in the qualification rounds.

19451959

There were 55 goals scored in the finals in this period. The distribution is as follows:

Teams

Goals

1. Railways XI

2. Port Harcourt Red Devils

13

3. Pan Bank-

6

4. Marine

4

5. UAC XI

3

6. Calabar XI

3

7. Warri

2

8. Plateau

2

9. Kano Pillars

2

10. Dynamos

1

11. Zaria

1

Total

55

The record for the highest margin of goals scored in any final in the FA Cup was shared in this period by two matches Port Harcourt Red Devils v Federal United 1958 (60) and Pan Bank XI v Warri XI 1952 (60). The record for the highest scoreline/margin in FA cup history was for a match in the qualifying rounds Port Harcourt Red Devils v Ikot Ekpene 180, 1958 preliminary rounds; the next was Ibadan v Ekiti 170. These stand as the overall highest scores/margins in FA Cup history.

 

7. THE FEDERATION CUP HALL OF FAME

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This chapter seeks simply to pay tribute to some of the individuals and organisation that have been part of the Federation Cups history over the years. The listings here, have been made in chronological order through the life of the competition. It has been impossible to list all the great heroes of this competition and the focus in any event being the first 60 years of the competition i.e till

2002. The reason for this cut-off being that the stature of a player or team evolves with time and the sum total of a player or coachs career depends on the full cycle, which the said cut-off allows.

We shall start with:

Teslim Thunder Balogun
(Railway, Plateau, Pan Bank, Peterborough, Queens Park Rangers, Ibadan Lions)

A lot has been written about this great man but it is the authors view that heroes cannot be honoured

enough for their contributions to their country and it is fair to say that Teslim Balogun is so deserving.

His playing career spanned the 1940s to the early 1960s, in which he travelled the highways and byways of Nigeria, plying his trade in the true spirit of sportsmanship and brotherhood, with this competition as an ideal. Balogun was primarily part of the all-conquering Railways team of the 1940s, and particularly, the dreaded Urion attacking line. After Railways, he was the pivot of the record- breaking Pan Bank team that scored the joint-highest margin in an FA Cup final 60 against the Warri XI. A member of the pioneer UK Tourists team, he was one of the first Nigerian player to sign a professional football contract and even in the twilight of his career, he worked tirelessly as a coach with the old Western Region/State. His work with the Ibadan Lions XI in their heyday will remain in the annals of FA cup history. A nation mourned his death in 1972 and the monument to his work is the proud host of this year's Federation Cup.

 

8. EPILOGUE

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This book has, as seen sought to travel through the history of Nigerias oldest sporting competition.

It is important to point out that it is an impossible task to properly capture the full history and magic of this competition in one medium alone, whether print or electronic.

It is equally impossible in practical terms, because of the dearth of information available for crucial parts of the competitions history. The process of gathering information to complete this work has necessitated travel not just around Nigeria but around Europe, where many of the necessary records can be found.

This, as said at the beginning, is an on-going process and this will not be the last edition of this work. In conclusion it shall be necessary to pay tribute to two important groups of stake-holders crucial to the survival of the institution that is the Federation Cup.

The 2012 Federation Cup will repeat the energy and vibrancy of past years, the main difference between this years competition and those of previous years, being that in the digital age, matches are more accessible to the public at home and abroad- progress indeed. However, the effect of this coupled with other societal factors- has been a reduction in the size of crowds at matches, which I hope will change with time, because ever since 1945 and before, fans have been the bedrock of the competition.

 

9. EKO ONI BAJE! IMAGES OF HISTORICAL LAGOS

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