It is with the deepest of apologies that I borrow the word ‘gargantuan’ from dismissed Attorney-General Martin Amidu of the controversial Alfred Woyome episode fame. I must be quick to point out though that what we are about to discuss here does not come anywhere near the weighty matters of law and governance which led to the introduction of that big word into regular discourse on the airwaves and in the print media a few months ago.
Having said that, I still believe the error being referred to merits that description. In the run-in to the current Glo Premier League, one of the most discussed topics was the fact that Kumasi Asante Kotoko were on the verge of winning a record 22nd league championship. Indeed, it was widely proclaimed a couple of weeks ago that the Porcupine Warriors had achieved that enviable feat, with some four matches to be played.
It took one phone call and a short meeting with a young man, who goes by the name, Thomas Freeman Yeboah, for me to come to the astonishing conclusion that an error “of gargantuan proportions” had been committed in the tally of national league champions. I sat wide-eyed and bemused as the young radio presenter of Asempa FM proceeded to show me incontrovertible documentary evidence that Kotoko had indeed won 21competitions and NOT 22, as we have all been made to believe.
The error had come about because in compiling the tally, someone (I have sworn an oath not to reveal his identity) counted the first and second rounds of the 1967-1968 league as two separate competitions. According to the records shown to me, Kotoko topped the table with 33 points at the end of the first round of the 20-club league, four more than Accra Great Olympics and Cape Coast Mysterious Dwarfs who were second and third, respectively but were only separated by goal difference. That is erroneously misrepresented in the records as a separate competition which Kotoko won.
There was a long break between the first and second rounds, some four months. The first round ended on March 10 and it was not until July 14 that the competition resumed. The league was eventually abridged on September 15, 1968, with Asante Kotoko declared winners after securing an unassailable lead with 47 points from 27 matches, six more than runners-up and perennial rivals Accra Hearts of Oak.
Without holding brief for the compiler of the league records, who shall continue to remain anonymous, it might have been that unusually long break which might have created the confusion in his mind, leading him to record the second round as another competition altogether.
The long and short of it all is that Kotoko became beneficiaries of that error which has existed until the persistence and determination of a meticulous Freeman Yeboah blew it apart before my very eyes. I’m told the PLB has been notified and it is only to be expected that the records will be set straight immediately, with the appropriate recognition accorded Freeman’s yeoman’s efforts and hard work.
I’m particularly happy that in this day and age when there is so much sloppiness and lazy work by some journalists, Freeman has shown that all isn’t lost. I say bravo and more grease to his elbow. This should go to all those in the profession who are doing their best in the face of the suffocating atmosphere of mediocrity which seems to suggest that anything goes.
Again, what this shows is that we need to take record keeping in all facets of our national life much more seriously. Indeed, we have no excuse to commit any such errors now, with all the technological advances and the resources at our disposal.
One other fact which this story has brought to the fore is that in spite of all misgivings against the current state of football organization in the country, we can say,” we’ve come a long way, baby”. Whilst for some time now, we can pride ourselves with having a program and sticking to it, hardly could one say the same about the 60’s, for instance, when almost every league season was abridged for one reason or the other. If it was not for crowded international engagements, it was for lack of good planning.
Typical of the period, the 63-64, 64-65 and 67-68 league competitions were all abridged. Co-incidentally, Kotoko were declared champions on all those occasions, having taken unassailable positions on top of the table. Of course, the 1966 competition was cancelled because of the coup d’etat , which overthrew the Nkrumah regime.
Can we say, we have taken gargantuan steps forward in that respect, at least? Lest I forget, when will the GFA amend their records to indicate that the late H.P. Nyemitei was a two-time FA chairman, first in 1966-67 and then from 1968 to 1971?