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‘I locked up dead body of my daughter in a room and escaped to the stadium’

By Gowon Akpodonor
07 January 2021   |   3:02 am
For an ardent Nigerian football fan, the name, IICC Shooting Stars carries a lot of weight. It remains one of the most famous clubs the country ever produced.

Pa Ganiyu Ade Fancy, 76, recounts adventure with IICC Shooting Stars

For an ardent Nigerian football fan, the name, IICC Shooting Stars carries a lot of weight. It remains one of the most famous clubs the country ever produced.

Shooting Stars was Nigeria’s first club to win the FA cup on a club basis in 1971. It was also the first Nigerian club to win an African title, the 1976 African Cup Winners Cup. The Oluyole Warriors was also the first Nigerian club to win the CAF Cup donated by late Chief MKO Abiola in 1992. The club has great followers in Nigeria.

For many years, Shooting Stars, which metamorphosed from the famous WNDC Ibadan, produced players who later became national and international heroes. The likes of Segun Odegbami, Kunle Awesu, Muda Lawal, Folorunsho Gambari, Nath Adewole, Sam Ojebode, Taiwo Ogunjobi, Felix Owolabi, Mutiu Adepoju, Dimeji Lawal, Sola Akinwale, David Aigbovo, Ademola Bankole, Ogbein Fawole, Friday Christopher, Isiaka Awoyemi, Ken Ugorji, Ben James, Dotun Alatise and Golden Ajeboh thrilled fans with their God-given football skills at different times and won several laurels including continental trophies.

76-year old supporter of Shooting Stars, Pa Ganiyu Ade Fancy.<br />Photo: Real 3SC Fans And Supporters

But telling the story of IICC Shooting Stars would be discourteous without giving credit to its supporters for their immense contributions to the club. One man, who has contributed largely to the success story of Shooting Stars is 76-year old Pa Ganiyu Ade Fancy, a famous meat seller (Baba Eleran) in Ibadan.

In an updated interview with Real 3SC Fans And Supporters, obtained by The Guardian, the old man narrates his long relationship with the club.

“Since my youthful age, Baba Gani (referring to Baba Gani Elekuru) was our leader and he coordinated us anytime there was a match. We travelled with him far and near. For me, I see my support for ‘Sootin’ (an adaptation of Shooting with a native tongue) as the only thing that makes me happy. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I don’t womanise. My passion is only for the club,” he reveals.

Pa Ganiyu Ade Fancy has his shop located in the heart of Oja’ba Market, a few metres away from the residence of the late Pa Ganiyu Elekuru, popularly known as Baba Eleran.

Former Sole Administrator of Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC), late Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi (left) with other members of the club celebrate at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Ibadan shortly after the CAF Cup victory in 1992.

He says: “I copied all my stewardship to ‘Sootin’ from Baba (Eleran). He was a good leader, and he motivated me. Any time there was a home match in Ibadan, I joined the band of Alhaj Tatalo Alamu on (Baba’s directive) to entertain our players. All these added glamour and colours.”

Memorable matches to remember
Pa Ganiyu Ade Fancy recalls with nostalgia some memorable matches he watched in the course of supporting the Oluyole Warriors, saying: “I have seen many games of the club but some remain evergreen in my memory. Our second leg tie against Tonnere Kalala in the semi-final of the Cup Winners, when ‘Sootin’ scored 4 goals to equalise and win via penalties to be in the final. I was at the stadium with other members. Also, our Challenge Cup final with Rangers FC, which was replayed in Kaduna.

He continues: “I won’t forget IICC/Bendel Insurance match in 1979. I escaped death. There was a blackout inside the stadium, and everybody was trying to get out of the arena. There was stampede at the stadium entrance. In fact, my legs didn’t touch the ground, as people’s shoulders kept me up. I got scared when I saw some fans being trampled upon. It was indeed a bad day. Our 1984 Champions Cup final defeat to Zamalek FC of Egypt was more painful to me. I lost my money and I lost my way. I didn’t realise what I was doing, and I was roaming the streets of Lagos unconscious of what was happening. We went to Lagos in convoy but returned to Ibadan individually.”

Pa Ganiyu Ade Fancy speaks further: “Shooting Stars/Sharks FC Challenge Cup semi-final in 1984 too was tough. Another match I won’t forget was against Water Corporation FC. The club was our eternal rival and anytime we played, we gave their supporters a lesson about supremacy. On this day, it didn’t take long before they scored two good goals against ‘Sootin’.

“On that day, one of our finest players, Segun Odegbami was writing his examinations at the Polytechnic, Ibadan, and he didn’t start the game. I accompanied Baba Ganiyu Elekuru to go and pick him in school. Immediately he arrived, and entered the game, he worked our equalisers and the game finally ended 3-3 on that day.

“Honestly, players like Segun Odegbami, Kunle Awesu, Muda Lawal, Folorunsho Gambari, Nath Adewole, Sam Ojebode, Taiwo Ogunjobi, Felix Owolabi, etc would work out winnings for the team anytime there was a difficulty.

Another close encounter with death
He recounted how he cheated death in Ile-Ife. “We followed IICC Shooting Stars to Ile-Ife for a match against Amicable Insurance FC. The game was going on when the wall suddenly collapsed on us. We had few casualties, but Allaah spared me. How will I forget the match against Tornadoes from Oyo town at the Olubadan Stadium?

“It was a Challenge Cup final, and Felix Owolabi scored the only goal before the thunderstorms that uprooted the roof of the stadium. The experience was scary. I didn’t know how I escaped the rowdiness.

How I kept my daughter’s dead body till evening
Perhaps, one major risk Pa Ganiyu Ade Fancy took in the course of supporting Shooting Stars was locking up the dead body of his daughter in a room till evening to watch an encounter between Shooting Stars and Stationery Stores.

He recalls: “The build-up to the match between Shooting Stars versus Stationery Stores was massive. Coach Bebe, a top-class tactician was coming to the Liberty Stadium. As members of the Supporters Club, we were prepared.

“Although my daughter, Afusat, had been ill, it never crossed my mind that she would die. We had had a meeting a day before the match on how to conduct ourselves. I was detailed to coordinate the drumming, singing, and dancing. But on the morning of the match, I lost my daughter around 11:45 am.

“It was painful but more painful was the thought of missing the crucial match against Stores. Suddenly, a thought came to my mind that I should brace up to control the situation.

“Then, I planned that her mother should be taken care of, while I arranged how the corpse would be buried. With this, I locked the dead body inside my room and sneaked through the back door to the stadium. The atmosphere at the stadium was supercharged. The thrills and frills temporarily overwhelmed me, and I forgot the loss of my daughter. Stationery Stores truly came to Ibadan for ‘real war.’ Despite deft security arrangements, their fans still managed to smuggle in some arms and machetes to foment trouble immediately after their 0-2 defeat.

“I was happy ‘Sootin’ won the match, and I returned home to bury my daughter. I won’t forget the reaction of my family members when I got home in the evening but I cared less since my team won. I love ‘Sootin’ with passion.”

Although Pa Ganiyu Ade Fancy agrees that the vacancy created by the death of his leader, Baba Elekuru, is difficult to fill, he believes that few of the remaining lieutenants of Baba Elekuru are trying their best despite the old age.

He reveals that despite his old age, he still watches home matches of ‘Sootin,’ and finds time to attend away matches that are close by.

The once-conquering Shooting Stars FC was relegated from the top flight Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) to the lower division (NNL) in the 2016-2017 season. Since then, Pa Ganiyu Ade Fancy and other supporters of the club had been roving like sheep without a shepherd. “My prayer is that my club should return to the elite cadre soon,” he stated.