"Pray for Kotoko" Yes that was the most trending phrase in the country and beyond when Kumasi Asante Kotoko was involved in an accident at Nkawkaw on the 12th of July.
Kotoko’s first defeat in eight league games was compounded by the death of equipment officer Thomas Obeng Asare who did not survive the Nkawkaw crash.
It was a day of National mourning, the entire country expressed support for the biggest Club in Ghana.
The country came to a stand still and nothing else mattered. The entire nation threw its support behind the football club, which is to some people a religion.
From the politician, the bourgeoisie controlling the private sector down to the vendor on the streets, everyone expressed their deepest sympathy. Ghana had not witnessed any tragedy in football since the May 9th stampede and this came as a big shock.
They are arguably the biggest Club in the country founded on 31 August 1935. 23 league titles go to their name topped with the crown of Africa’s club of the century in 2010 by the International Football Federation of History and Statistics (IFFHS).
Kotoko is a club that is dear to the hearts of many, owned by the custodian of the Ashanti Kingdom Otumfour Osei Tutu II, they command a large following in Ghana.
It was not lost on the football fraternity the impact of the absence of Kotoko, albeit brief, on the Ghana Premier league and Ghanaian football in general.
Kotoko's accident sparked a national debate with regards to the controversial tow levy but let us remain in the circles of football and access the dwindling effect this accident had on our Ghana Premier League.
The Porcupines are the one club that drags a host of football fans from all walks of life no matter where they play and who the opponents are. In this era where Ghana football has seen a susbtantial fall in patronage, Kotoko are able to pull a respectable number of supporters to the Stadium.
Whenever they grace the pitches, high attendance to match venues are visible, increase in sales of paraphernalia shoot up and vendors at match venues are able to sell to the masses.
I had an interview with the Public Relations Officer of the National Sports Authority Federica Mensah who revealed they recorded the highest gate proceeds last year when Hearts played Kotoko at the Accra Sports Stadium.
I was at the Stadium and witnessed the teeming crowd in a sea of red. Only games involving the Black Stars can pull such a crowd.
There was excitement and the large support made sure the then Hearts goalkeeper Soulama had a terrible afternoon, that was by far the best game played by the team in a long while.
Kotoko was due to play Hearts of Oak at the Baba Yara Stadium on the 16th of July, fans were already in an anticipatory mood, bragging rights were at stake and revenge was certainly on the minds of the Phobians who had been defeated in their last meeting at the same venue.
All that was cut short by the unfortunate incident. Economically it affected the Club as well as the National Sports Authority because Kotoko would have recorded high gate proceeds as usual.
Vendors in and around the Baba Yara Sports Stadium would also have made sales but all these were lost. Kotoko add spice to the Ghana Premier League, they draw attention and the league will lose steam if they are out of action, that is an undisputed fact.
They equally missed their Week 24 Clash with WAFA which would have been a battle as the Sogakope side have been dominant and bullied Kotoko's rival Hearts of Oak at the Sogakope Park.
Several members of the playing body sustained various degrees of injuries and Coach Steve Pollack is on his way to recovery, the Kotoko fraternity has been very supportive of one another and that shows the level of unity among them.
Kotoko made the return on the 6th of August to battle their fiercest rivals Accra Hearts of Oak, they were met by a rousing welcome with fans trooping to the Baba Yara Stadium. A clear sign the biggest Club in Ghana had been missed by many.
The game ended 1-1 and there was joy in the crowd as the two sides entertained. This shows the importance of having a club like Kotoko, powerful, dominant and commandants of a large following.
They are down but not out, they will rise up strongly and are guided by their motto"Kum Apem ah Apem b3ba" which literally means if you kill a thousand a thousand will arise.
That is Kotoko, they are bereaved at the moment and have taken the shine out of our football but expect the Porcupines to bring back the joy on the faces of many Football fans.
#Fabulous# You have truly been missed