May 9th, marked 18 years since the HORROR OF CHRISTANSBORG.It was a strange kind of day. Unceasing showers from a.m to p.m.I The match started at 5.30p.m, so unusual.I got to the stadium late if you can call 4.30 late. Otumfuo Asantehene's motorcade was turning from the Castle towards Osu Cemetry just as I got there. The popular stand was already jam-packed and all I had to do was go to the opposite stand which hadn't yet filled up, but I really wanted to smoke in the cold weather whilst I watched "Merry Christmas" since the popular stand was smoker friendly.
The long line outside popular stand entrance was snail pacing.. 3 times I wanted to go opposite and 3 times I restrained myself citing the reason that I cannot watch this super clash without my smoking pleasure, and just as though God knew I would in impatience perhaps forego my precious smoking pleasure,here appeared Mawassa and his woman and I let them stand in front of me . With these two in front of me I was spiritually barred from going opposite. The corridor at the top was full and I had to watch on tiptoes between two necks in front of me,yes it was sardines jampacked.Accrra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko was ,the chief opiate of the people!
Hearts had won the Continental trophy the year prior and the league title had been wrapped up 4 years in a row.Sammy Adjei,Amankwah Mireku,Joe Ansah,Adjah Tetteh,Edmund Cobson,Charles Allotey,these were true gangsters of the game and that wasn't all.There were more weapons of mass destruction,the ruthless quartet of Charles Taylor lentertainment prefect] a rare jewel,Ishmael Addo's arrows always hit target,it was normal,the Intelligence quotient[ball sense] that Emmanuel Osei Kuffuor exhibited, and then to make matters worse there was Bernard Dong Bortey[serial killer] whose insolence with the dead ball situation was awe inspiring.Speed to tear away,the guile of the Beckam style cross and I mean when Dada Don stands behind the freekick on the "D" a goal was a foregone conclusion ,yet on this fateful day Coach Jones Attuquayefio had Bortey on the bench in his masterplan. Hearts of Oak had an "iif you jealous, you go die" squad truly from dreamland who"d had the efferontry to disembowel Kotoko 4-0 in March, 2000.
Yet in all their romping Godwin Ab;rdey had scored the lone goal that enraged them just a week and a half prior in the J.O.T Agyemang[Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawling's dad]Cup and Kotoko supporters had a banquet of sweetmeats whilst in the last clash at Kumasi,Stephen Oduro had orchestrated an exhorbitent 2-0 win with Joe Otchere and Michael Osei in a Fabulous mix.So it was that though Hearts was "deadly poison",yet Kotoko had no jitters at all as they descended on the capital city where they really feel at home. The first half was keenly contested,yet Kotoko though dominant couldn't put anything past Sammy Adjei and so it ding-donged till the recess.
Asante Kotoko started the second half in whirlwind fashion,continuing from where they'd left off and after about 5 minutes a ball found right winger Lawrence Adjei who when expected to cross from a few metres to the Osu Cemetry corner flag,miskicked his toss pwerfully to the first post and Sammy Adjei sprawled and we thought he'd grabbed it.I told you it was an unusual day.The SLOW MOTION GOAL I call it.Striker Frimpong lurking around had realized that the ball had trickled out of Sammy's grasp and was cooly by the inner side net and with Sammy fully sprawled motionless,the dude blasted it well into the net for all to see,so the roar from the crowd came notch to higher notch,higher and yet higher still till hell broke out,,complete delirium.Lowest pitch before the conflagration go bliss..The decibels rose in slow motion,pitch ,to higher pitch,it was a rarity!
Come and see!Then I raised a refrain in the Ga language teasing Sammy Adjei and his team."E nyee e mo le bo,agyei,e nyee e mo le bo" and the Ga Kotoko supporters took it up and we had a nice jiiggle with the chorus which caught fire nicely.It meant 'He couldn't grab at once,agyei,he couldn't grab at once".[how can you ridicule the African Champs like that?] When we'd cooled down,the Hearts stronghold defiantly composed a song there and then and can you imagine the whole throng singing back "Rasta eee,o le ball mli,oo fee yeyeeye, oo fee yeyeeye, Rasta eee,o le ball mli oo fee yeyeeye, oo fee yeyeeye!"Which means',"Aye Rasta,you you don't know soccer well,you are rushing,you are rushing " The Heart/Kotoko supporters are best of friends at the popular stand and look at this beautiful scene I just painted,Stadium at it's sweetest. They adressed me, meaning my chorus had struck as intended.Someone also said to my credit "don't mind him,he'll applaud Charles Taylor right now", no doubt he'd studied me from prior encounters and knew Ras was truthful, for Charles Taylor was the real entertainment prefect,"kaa fo e daa, e baa jie Charles Taylor yi biane"Soccer maniac has to applaud great skill regardless it coming from the opponent.
So it was that from the 50th minute to the 80th, we had a field day of fun in the stand and the Hearts fans were perplexed and afflicted with patient silence until Jones Attuquayefio introduced Bernard Dong Bortey,and immediately the tide changed with Bortey bringing on innate spirited urgency and with 8 minutes to go Bortey found Ishmael Addo who pipped it in for the equaliser.Come and see the ressurrection of the dead!!Relief prim and proper for the 64th battallion[Hearts nick name at the time,]. Come and hear noise! And as an opposing fan I sensed them raising their faith like,"whaaaat,as sure as this equalizer has come, the winning goal shall surely follow". They actually willed the winning goal and 5 minutes later, Don Bortey broke out at the Christiansborg Castle left wing and raised his head and sent a rightfooted outer foot curler head high to his centre forward just inside the "D",who'd eluded his markers,,the curler was so refined[the trajectory was of a bow,it went forward and it came back and the linesman raised his flag and as though realising ,no, it's a masterpiece,, put it down quickly, yes,it went forward and came back,thus pulling keeper Osei Boateng out of the post and Ishmael Addo pipped the keepers fist with a risky header,for he stole it like a spitting cobra and Osei Boateng had missed ball and head and the ball was in the net.The African Champs were at their die hard best!
Bernard Dong Bortey was the ace in the hole,if you can contain Charles Taylor it doesn't mean you can contain Dada Don,whose curler confused the linesman so.Asante Kotoko had really brought out the best in Hearts of Oak,it was an unforgetable blockbuster of a match.So the whistle went and the Kotoko fans at the race course side of the opposite stand started ripping off the seats with careless abandon and so the demonic sequence went,linesman raises and brings his flag down,seats are flung unto the tarmac and then the police also gleefully doing teargas shooting practice at the throng with criminal negligence not premeditated at all but a real spur of the moment wrong decision.The wind was blowing nortward from the sea so the tear gas couldn't affect us in the south stand and wing stands..So it came to pass that the multitude had to flee the stands which had narrow exits.
That day Bayern Munich was playing Real Madrid in a semi final Euro clash and the guys supposed to open the gates were watching in a room beneath the popular stand [I heard the tele] for can you imagine that after watching the fans fleeing the teargas,I descended and the sea side gates were shut and I had to exit through the Osu centreline gate, the east gate and it was a struggle but not a stampede.I get back to Dansoman without a clue of the horror at the North end.I'm awakened by a call from my "old boy" in London enquiring and II comprehend in a trice.We on the South had to exit through the east,meaning the multitude met the locked northgates and the teargas induced stampede crammed the first exiters against the locked gates and walls..Nii OkaiRandolph was one of the so jammed and got robbed of his chain and wrist watch and after some constriction,he said the guy who robbed him happened to come back and said"hey Red,you dey suffer ooh" and the thief wrenched him out of his locked situation and certain death and was nowhere to be seen to be thanked,he wanted to thank the guy who'd robbed him,can you imagine the real meaning of unusual?
It was demonic to the hilt for if I struggled under normal circumstance to exit,how much more these teargased poor souls?The gate keepers were watching Bayern Munich /RealMadrid! One Kokomlemle brother I knew from way back actually climbed tthe side of the east gate to exit and greeted me from the height, really Iit was a hasstle to get out but certainly not a stampede.What a calamity!So if I hadn't so treasured my smoking experience it was bound to be a different story,I'm in no way promoting smoking but just recounting reality.What else can I say? Thanks be to God for His mercy endureth always!Who bears the blame?Why must one rip off seats,does the scoreline change,intolerance is the deficiency,whether the linesman erred or not and wisdom and knowledge should be the stability of the times.The police too were punishing the good crops alongside the tares with no idea they would go and meet the great barrier reef itself. As for the linesman, Bortey bamboozled him with a table tennis spin which hit the tip of the table ,and can be excused.You see how demons can dribble men to smithereens?,Being nice to each other is the only solution.Speak up and let it end there.Why the hell must you rip seats so stupidly to trigger extra stupidity?
The Hearts supporters who died that day, had had their really sweet performance of a lifetime, an exorbitant joy they'd had with Borteys KILLER CURLER,.WHAT A MURDEROUS DAY! May all the departed trod on in their many mansions,for didn't Yesu Kristo say"in my Fathers house there are many mansions there" We are all really sorry about your great misfortune but JAH sees and knows still!. May the mutual respect between Kotoko and Hearts grow from strength to strength!
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