Acheru narrates how Dolphins sponsored planeload of ‘area boys’ to Ghana
Port Harcourt based football writer and author, China Acheru, has revealed in his book, A thousand times on the same road how a planeload of street urchins, also known as area boys, were taken to Ghana for a Champions League game.
Acheru, who has been on a radio tour of Port Harcourt to promote his book, told a Radio Nigeria, Treasure FM 98.5 audience that in a bid to take more fans to support the club in Ghana, the Rivers State government mistakenly took a planeload of “area boys” on the trip.
“In 2005, Dolphins were supposed to play a match against Accra Hearts of Oaks in Ghana and we normally travel maybe three or four days before games with just the core team and a few people joining us.
“But this time, the sports commissioner thought that we should have more people watching the team and supporting them, so he told the Governor then, Dr. Peter Odili, that instead of taking the team to Ghana for three or four days, they could go on match day,” Acheru explained.
He continued that the plan was simply that the group go on Match Day in a chartered flight and return immediately after the game. The money saved on extra accommodation and feeding could be used to charter a second plane so more people can watch the game.
“So two planes were hired for the trip and when you do this, you have the task of filling them up, but after sports ministry staff, commissioners, government personnel and supporters club executive, one plane was not even filled up yet.
“So the chairmen of Sharks and Dolphins supporters clubs were asked to submit names of their members to join the trip and that was where the crisis began, though we did not know it,” Acheru continued.
He explained that during that era in Port Harcourt, area boys were very powerful and got wind of the development so they began to call the supporters club chairmen threatening that they include names of their colleagues rather than bonafide members of the supporters’ clubs.
“So, unfortunately for us, we took a plane load of these boys to Ghana for the game and it did not end well for us.
“How this situation ended can only be known if you buy the book,” Acheru said.
China Acheru was the media officer of Dolphins FC for 13 years between 2003 and 2016. He is also the first Nigerian to officially record watching one thousand games at various stadia across the world.
His book, “A thousand times on the same road” based on that experience was out for sale on Friday, November 6, 2020.