Early days into the 2014 season, Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan invaded Onikan Stadium with several truckloads of supporters, trying to intimidate the Adebajo Babes into surrendering 3 precious points in the Nigerian National League. At the end of 90 minutes, it was Stationery Stores that proved convincingly superior after Raphael Onwrebe and Festus Ajah blasted in two unreplied goals. At that point in time, most neutrals must have bet that Stores would end the season well ahead of Shooting, but it wasn’t to be. Rather, It was 3SC topping the table and Stores at the opposite end. What happened?
We are all aware that Stores entered the league this season totally unprepared. That we even played at all, after 16 years off the field, was totally down to the determination and ingenuity of Tilewa Adebajo and the rest of the Adebajo family. The supporters groups were also effectively mobilized through the efforts of Adebayo Olowo-Ake, Pastor Eliashib Ime-James, Barrister Babatunde Ogala, and other committed long-time followers of the team. Getting the opportunity with barely two weeks or thereabout to the commencement, we had no other choice than to inherit wholesale the entire squad of Union Bank FC of Lagos. It was a very young, promising, but largely inexperienced squad.
The Coach, Taiwo Enegwea, Captain Ayo Filani, and the rest of the boys were very proud to suddenly find themselves wearing the revered jersey of the greatest football club in the world, and in all fairness, put in their best efforts, maintaining a respectable placing up till the transfer window when several new players were signed up to strengthen the team; and indeed the team became stronger.
With experienced Coach Fatai Amao on the saddle and top players like Fuad Ekelojuoti and Emmanuel Obinna on the field, Stores started looking like an awesome team, devouring teams week in week out at the Onikan Stadium. Only thing lacking was getting an away victory, and maybe that was why the Coach had to leave – I really do not know, but the coming of Loveday Omoruyi clearly did not help the team in terms of results. Another key scenario that coincided with the slump of the team was the dramatic drop in the number of supporters that turned up to watch the last few games.
It is commendable though that at this point the team’s publicity team, anchored by Sola Rogers and Bayo Akande continued to keep the team in the news with endless feeds on Twitter, Facebook and the traditional news media. We, at mySUPERSTORES.wordpress.com, with every sense of humility, also did our bit analyzing ALL the home games throughout the season. The other massive positives from the season were the sponsorship by 1960Bet and the peaceful atmosphere at Onikan throughout the season.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER (MVP)
For us at this blog, the MVP award for the 2014 season will have to be shared by two players. FUAD Ekelojuoti really distinguished himself even though he came in half way into the season. He was our most dangerous attacker, bulldozing and scoring vital goals for us. The fact that he appeared to suffer a slump after missing that last minute penalty against …… underscores the need to have a competent psychologist in the team, going forward. OBINNA Emmanuel is our second awardee: He distinguished himself as a creative 10, especially during the spell he had playing behind Festus Ajah. We believe he could have done much better if he wasn’t moved to the right side of attack, and if both coach and supporters encouraged him more whenever he tried his flicks and tricks. That is what schemers do.
MAN OF THE YEAR
For successfully spearheading the return of the darling team of Lagos amidst all the gargantuan challenges, ADETILEWA ADEBAJO is our Man of the Year.
LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE
We pray Stores get an opportunity to play again next season. If we do, we must
*Maintain a stable team of players and coaching crew throughout the season. Maybe one or two changes mid season, but not wholesale.
*Win all our ‘away’ games in Lagos. We must remember that the entire Lagos, not just Onikan, is Stores’ territory. If we had won those 3 (THREE !) games at Agege, our story would have been vastly different.
*Do the utmost to pick points in at least half of our games outside Lagos.
*And finally; support the team totally, no matter the circumstances. The supporters group need to be effectively organized and run independently without being a burden to Management.