Eternal rivals Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards first faced off on 5 May 1968 in a match that ended 2-1 to Gor who got their goals through William “Chege” Ouma who grabbed a brace while Henry Misango scored the consolation for Leopards, then known as Abaluhya United.
This is how Polly Fernandes reported that first clash in The Sunday Nation on 6 May 1968.
“William ‘Chege’ Ouma, Gor Mahia’s mercurial leader in attack, blazed in two crackerjack second half goals to send reigning National League champions Abaluhya crushing to defeat in this action-packed encounter at Nairobi’s City stadium last night.”
“After the match, delighted Gor Mahia supporters swamped the pitch to chair off man-of-the-match Ouma, and the ten other heroes who worked so meritoriously to achieve this victory. And no team deserved more to topple the league champions than this power-packed Gor Mahia side. Throughout the match, they sought to play attractive, on-the-ground soccer and it must be said to their credit that never at any stage during the match did they try to frustrate Abaluhya’s chances of a revival by reverting to a defence-minded negative game.”
“For Joe Kadenge, Abaluhya’s free-scoring winger, the match was one of lamentable failures. He missed a guilt-edged chance of paving the way for the equaliser when, in the 72nd minute, he blazed wide a penalty.”
This fixture, which has come to be known as the Mashemeji Derby, has grown into the biggest and longest running rivalry in Kenyan football and has not been without its fair share of drama.
For instance, the 5-1 hiding Gor gave AFC Leopards in their first leg league fixture in 1975, a game in which Laban Otieno became the first player to grab a hat-trick in this clash with the other goals for Gor coming from Maurice “Ole Tunda” Ouma and Francis Mudanyi as Dennis Mwenje got Leopards consolation goal.
There is also Leopards 3-2 come from behind victory over their opponents en route to winning the 1986 league unbeaten. Gor held a 2-0 lead courtesy of a brace from Sammy Onyango “Jogoo” but Dan Musuku responded with a brace of his own to restore parity before Patrick Shim stabbed home a late winner to give Leopards the result.
We certainly cannot forget the result from 10 November 2019 when a brace from Ivorien forward Gnamien Yikpe complimented by goals from Clifton Miheso and Lawrence Juma gave Gor a 4-1 result over Leopards whose consolation came from Tresor Ndikumana.
So many great names have featured in this tie…William “Chege” Ouma, Maurice “Sonyi” Ochieng, Joe Kadenge, Jonathan Niva, Allan Thigo, Wilberforce “Maradona” Mulamba,Mickey “ T9” Weche, Austin Oduor “Makamu”, John “Bobby” Ogolla, Peter Dawo, JJ Masiga, Mahmoud Abbas, Jacques Tuyisenge, Meddie Kagere, Mike Barasa, Allan Wanga,John Okello “Zangi”, David “Deo” Odhiambo, Dan Sserunkuma….the list is endless
Let’s not forget about the theatrics between rival fans, which have oscillated between the good, the bad and the ugly.
The Mashemeji Derby remains an integral part of Kenyan sports history…always something to look forward to.