Monday, 16 July 2007

Fola's Chronicles

Mon 2/07


Where's the bus?.......................... 'We can't leave for Ilorin after 1330, it's not safe!'


Boredom and hunger descend we head to Chicken Republic in order to feed the Ambassadors. They 've got a new take on fast food. Hand over your cash, '22 Chicken taxi meals please'......................... bad move. They forgot to tell us that the chicken that we were expecting hadn't hatched yet, worse still mother hen only hatched one bugger at a time.

After 60 minutes call for service was met with "ready in 5 minutes"

After 90 minutes " I want my money back", response "sorry sir I can't give refunds".


Depart Lagos 1700 (u dey craze!!)

Quick Nando's load up at tollgate followed by TGH's quick expressway release

3 Vehicle hazard light flashing convoy........... top speed 60 mph

highlights - Will King's karaoke 'Becky' greatest hits........... the guys a star

a detour 4x4 bush route........ the track was so bad that we met one truck on the way. No self respecting armed robber would waste his time in such a forlorn spot.

the eventual submission to FATE............ a mass visitation to dey bush on the side of an expressway filled with speeding erratic tankers at 11.00 pm


A 200 bed marbled 4 star in the middle of a quiet city. A jewel how the hell did such a cool spot end up out here. Great service, great ambience, clean rooms, pool, gym, squash, tennis, nightclub, etc.

Our base for 3 nights, yes Ilorin was so GOOOOooood we stayed an extra day.

Tues 3/07

0730 - Get on the bus or get left behind, hence we leave or two stragglers to find their way.

0745 - Ilorin Stadium as with all things in this tranquil city is not what you would expect........... great multi sport facilities

0800 - Rob and Andy have the guys training on the outer fields of the state stadium, they knuckle down to a 90 minute session; no complaints and just 3 group water breaks........... Wow!

1000 - Coaching Clinic

5 Big Bo Bo Bo Boszas for.................................. for everyone and the clinic is under way each squad member begins to run a group of youths through some basic skills

300 screaming youngsters in Ilorin, fantastic hand to eye coordination, speed and a passion for this crazy game that they had just heard of.

Star of the show - 'Captain Victor' watch out for this kid he watches rugby whenever he can and gate crashed the clinic as he was too young and belonged to none of the invited schools. It still did not stop this (pint sized George Gregan ............... alas he will end up being a scrum half) kid ordering 13 and 14 year olds around.

Meanwhile Fred and Andy are conducting an IRB level 1 course for some 34 hopefuls......... later reports indicated that not only was it highly successful, but they had never encountered such a passion for the game.

1500 - A healthy sportsmans lunch.................... Hot Puff puff (Naija donuts) washed down with a bottle of Coca Cola. Packaged and served by the LNRFC squad.

1630 A medal ceremony conducted by Fred Ollows our Kenya RFU IRB Instructor and Tunde Aiyegbusi.

Wed 04/07

0800 - More training, a nasty 3 hour session, I have not seen LNRFC train this hard in last 3 seasons........................ things are looking up. No whinging bar myself; 32 degrees heat; 4 group water breaks.......................... a team lunch then back to the hotel.

1300 - Day 2 of the coaches course is underway in a conference suite, word has got around and now the 34 prospective caoches have swelled to 60 in number. Only the original 34 make it through, but that is the level of enthusiasm shown.

1545 - Missed the bus back to the stadium, end up catching a cab with Simi and some other stragglers.

Warm up and drills and then kick off against Kwara Dynamite RFC, in front of 600 bemused spectators. Dynamite beats us hands down with in Commitment and passion stakes, luckily technical nous wins the day. Reminds me of early LNRFC, watch out for Kwara Dynamite in the future............................. we win.

Highlight - At half time a full blooded match between two female sides and I mean full blooded; these women normally train with the guys..........Ouch!!

The day ends with a Cup presentation and the donation of a set of shirts to Kwara Dynamite, coupled with this was a donation of balls, post protectors, maul pads, tackle bags and a scrummage machine ....................... still awaiting delivery from Lagos.

Back to the Kwara Hotel where an unbiased court session is held, this results in certain individuals ending up embarassed and poorer.

Thu 05/07


An uneventful trip back to Lagos

The evening sees us pitch up at the Old Boys Reunion Dinner, where the likes of Magnus Macauley regaled the squad with tales of his exploits in yester years

Our sponsors, notably VirginNigeria where duly lauded for their support.



Missed training .... N3k fine...........

Looked like a 'real fun' session, the guys are covered head to foot in mud due to bathing in a waterlogged polo field.

Highlight - The 'Faith' Healer
Osahon turns his ankle and heads for the stands where he proceeds to lie prostate on the floor. Much oohing and aahing is heard from our fallen hero. Babs get him some ice as soon as it is applied to his ankle a scream pierces the air. Os shoo's Babs away; prognosis end of playing tour for the big man.

Sargent Ikhoma (Head Mopol) one our armed mobile police guards had other ideas,he hitches his sub machine gun over his shoulder, barrel pointing downwards. He then leans over Os, picks up the ice bag and applies it to the sprained ankle. Osahon winces, but not a sound he maketh. Head Mopol gives him a cursory glance, by chance the gun barrel is hovering over Osahon's ankle. This 'doc' is from the tough school and he begins to vigourously massage the ice into the victims ankle. Not a sound emits from Big Os as realises Head Mopol means business. The vigourous ice massage continues for about 5 minutes. Persppiration glistens on the Sargents forehead, the gun barrel casually bumps against the patients lower leg.

At last Head Mopol relents and barks an order, "Oya, I want you to march up and down, let the blood flow". A traumatised Os launches himself barefoot up and down the wet concrete terrace, lest his blood begins to flow externally rather than................... 5 minutes and many laps later big Os is good to go........ Sprained ankle!! WHAT sprained ankle?

At that moment if if you had asked Osahon to play two back to back games he would have. Ahhh!...... the Power of Faith..

1430 - We comandeer the bus for a quick raid on Lekki Arts and Crafts market, Macca, Chima, Rob, Hisham and I. On arrival we are surrounded by traders who have not sold much due to the rain. Macca goes all blue and ends up wiith canvas purchases of a similar hue. Chima gets a nostalgic urge for river and village scences and duly makes some traders day. Hisham plums for an Ijaw masquerades bulls head mask complete with horns.... (remind me to introduce him to SANE when we return). Whilst Rob the main instigator behind our trip plumbed the depths acroos the road.

1700 - Chief (Mrs) Allan hosted a sumptuous dinner for the tour party and some 50 guests at the equally salubrious Regents Dining Rooms. I t was also Captain Wole's birthday, he duly made a speech and distributed some cake.......... mmmm not bad. Osahon duly ran through a well rehearsed speech and thanked every living creature between Lagos and Jo'burg and then I hit the dance floor until my beautiful wife showed up and took me home.

Fabulous night Thank you to our hostess.

7/07 - Rob has gone mad, he told me that I would be playing; I'm thinking of putting in a call for help to Help the Aged. Worse still the captain has leant me a pair of RED!! vinyl boots with blades, not studs underfoot........... WHat about my rep?

Their last act of madness is to move me from my favoured fly half position to prop.....O yea of short sight fear not because you lack vision......

1200 - We erect our sponsors banners, warm up, mark out the pitch and await our oppo. Whilst waiting we are humbled by a group of fearless kidswho take part in an exhibition match. Most are barefoot and give no quarter in the wet muddy conditions. Skills abound and two of them would give our wingers a run for their money........................... though on second thoughts so would I.

Lagos Select XV v LNRFC XV

Match kicked off at a frantic pace. Lagos Select with passion to the fore, LNRFC meet fire with fire and due to technical superiority and eventually win the match, score 3 - 20.

Lagos Select XV v Northern Select

"In wet weather keep it tight" Both these teams ignored this addage and tried to ship and run at every opportunity. Good handling skills ensured that the match maintained a frentic tempo. The Lagos Select XV eventually won by the smallest of margins, much to the joy of the home based support.

Nigerian Police Lagos v Addax

Two young clubs met for the forst time and displayed this unrelenting passion, no holds barred commitment; which seems to be a common trait amongst local based sides. Addax eventually won the game, though the newly formed Police side were comptitive throughout.

News Flash................Shock!! News... Hisham El Marazki will play no further part due to a back injury....

I have been informed that I will be in the starting line up for the next match, wisdom has not won the day as they have decided to handicap our side by not playing me at fly half. This is an............. OUTrage, my immediate thought is too RUN........... the 10 foot perimeter wall is no obstacle, but what lies on the other side deters me............. the odd unfed Rotweiller or two!


Northern Select v LNRFC
"Become A Virtual Playa"
We're on kick off is mminent, been a long time since I last played. I switch to virtual mode....
The crowd cheers ...... for me. The match begins at a frenzied pace, but as with all great playas, I have all the time in the world. I 'seem' to walk from one set peice to another. With my red, vinyl 'go faster' boots I glide and find gaps at every turn, even if the game appears to be at least 20 metres in front of me. Ah Well! I can't blame myself if the others can't keep up.
Constantly my vast experience comes into play, I strategically postion myself, knowing full well that if I wait in long enough, play will return to the exact spot that I have chosen..... and when it does I find a new space and wait again.
Yes, I hear you say rugby is a contact sport but in the modern game the art is not to look for contact but to find the gap or SPACE and this I am very adept at.
Slight hitch at the first scrum the opposition prop put up some resistance. Second scrum I brought all the weight of my experience to bear and used all my 20 stones to demolish his 13. ........ pah! Impudence.
HALF TIME - The coach gives me a sign, 10 more minutes and I'm off. Because I had done what was required and the game was ours.
The plot was for Ritchie (Young Son) to replace me in the front row.
10 minutes later, I make my exit to a standing ovation.
Young Son is sinbinned within 2 minutes........... crime had not brought the referee (Fred) a drink all tour.
I duly return to the field of play..............and receive yet another standing ovation.
One more assault on the line, one more try and Young Son returns from the sin bin; I make my final exit..... this time the crowd show a bit of originality and I am mobbed by a throng who try to take my shirt and shake my hand.
Alas two factors late in the game reveal that my exit was premature. Firstly, without my protective powers and the fear of retribution, the Northern Select begin to play. On seeing this Ugo decides to head butt the oppo centre............. wait for it........ with his CHIN........ you'd think that he would know better as the guy is a student doctor. UGOoooooooooo! common sense use forehead, fist, feet for assault, not your nose, groin or Chin., DuuH!!
The oppo up their game and Tunde Aiyegbusi slots in on the left wing (Why?), wrong move, the ball is quickly shifted out to his opposite winger; who smiles and duly rounds him..... TRY! The fact is I had strategically positioned myself up and down this touchline all game; I leave it for one miute and they score.
The cord snaps on Fred's shorts, he red cards Rob our coach...... I can see that he is losing it as fatigue sets in, On the promise of me buying him a peach brandy, he blows the final whistle. We win 5 - 20.
LNRFC are presented the COCONU (Carl Oliver Christian Odumegwu Ndubuisi Ugwunkwo) Memorial Cup.
Virgin Nigeria and Exxon Mobil banners are iluminated as endless cameras freeze flash the historic moment.
SUN 8/07
Mid day at the Boat Club, I opt for the speed boat with the white leather seats..... Thanks Fash.... and take ownership as we speed towards Takawa Bay..
Doc Richard Ajayi has laid on a do for us at his beach house.
Hit the beach and make our way towards the music. Iby proceeds to buy a Jack fish for the BBQ.......... thats bigger than him.
This surreal, the beach has a little wrought iron gate and is surrounded by a chain mail fence. Sand laws replace grass. The DJ is in full swing, bbq on the go, free drink and buffet for those who don't do flame charred food.
Sun shining, dancing, mingling, chatting. Maynard (Buff) thinks he's at last made it to the set of a 50 Kobo vid, poor guy keeps glancing at the garden gate waiting for Dr Dre to show.
Not a frown is sight all day........ smiles all around, Doc Richard has really gone to town on this one.
What a way to end the tour, it can't get much better than this, or can it.
Roll On 2008

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Fola,
I was just thinking of Odi today and I decided to visit your website. If I knew your tour to Nigeria will end with the COCONU cup, you can be sure I would have come cheering you to glory.

We want to thank you all for everything you have been doing to keep his memory alive. Every gesture, every deed mean a lot to us.

Thank you,
Ngozi Anajuba, Odi's Aunt.