By Mathew Ottamax
Gor Mahia FC is one of the biggest clubs in East Africa and indeed Africa. The club has its fair shares of continental accolades and with a following that is cult like.
When it comes to the local league it is always theirs to lose having won the six championships in the last seven years, quite unprecedented.
This I will attribute to the team’s top notch scouting for both players and its coaching staff.
My opinion today is not on the success of the club but on unceremonious way the coaching staff exit the club.
In the last seven glorious years (2013-19) remember this is after Kogalo stayed in limbo for 18 years without a trophy.
The club has had five coaches whom I’d say changed the fortunes of the team as each one of them made some sort of history after which they left the club mysteriously.
Bobby Williamson: The wide trophy chasm was finally filled by this humble former Ugandan National team coach in 2013 when Gor Mahia won the league trophy for the first time in 18 years. Bobby was to resign from his role as Gor Mahia’s coach late in the season of 2014 to take up the job of Harambee Stars coach. It is not clear if it was financially instigated. Close sources say he held on to the house he was given by club as part of settling his pending dues. His successor Frank Nuttall had to stay in hotels throughout his career in Kenya.
Frank Nuttal: I together with Jolawi Abondo and Tom Ogweno we were unveiled on the same day to join Sir Bobby Ogolla and Frank Ouna on the Kogalo’s bench, this is after Bobby left. And with 10 matches left to finish the league. The race was so tight and quite challenging for the entrants on the bench because nothing less was expected from us but to retain the league. We managed by winning on the last day of season dropping only 5 points out of possible 30.
2015 and Frank Nuttal assembled his dream team, no need of names just Google Kogalo squad of 2015. The league was won UNBEATEN, played in the Cecafa finals putting up a lethargic performance after claims of gassed dressing room. It was a year to remember, and with the current format of CAF Champions League, this team could have made history.
Then money issues begun, there was some push and pull between the club management and Frank Nuttal, egos were bruised and Frankie had no future at Mahia for sure.
2015 to Gor Mahia fans and supporters was a good year, but the technical bench members it was living in nightmare. We went for several months if put together 3/4 of the year without salaries but we still could do our magic to make Kogalo republic happy. It’s here that Bobby Ogolla and Frank Ouna left the team when it became unbearable.
2016 in an early season derby kickoff, Frank Nuttall came to the dressing room with a suitcase, we lost 0-1 to AFC Leopards and that’s the last time that coach was seen in Kenya. He was later unveiled at Zamalek of Egypt.
Ze Maria: Never ever say Ze won nothing at Gor Mahia, actually he was robbed off the 2016 premier league title by the authorities just because of a one fan disturbance. A fan whose allegiance wasn’t established whatsoever.
Ze Maria will be remembered for bringing back beautiful football at Gor Mahia though some people thought it lacked that cracking pace. It is the fruits of his beautiful soccer that is being enjoyed today by the Green Army. Socially I’d say he wasn’t like Nuttall who kept his TB members together as pals always discussing our post match performances over a drink as we laughed and ogled the night away.
Ze had mood swings and he would pick on anyone on the technical team when this period came. He picked on me one day and that was the end of us.
Of all the coaches I think he got the best treatment and it will be accusingly wrong if I said he left Gor Mahia because of money issues. But remember he dumped Gor Mahia in the middle of the season for a stint in Albania, leaving his assistant Zico in the hot driving seat.
Dylan Kerr: to me he was more of a hype man. Joined Zico’s team in the finals of Sportpesa Challenge Cup in Daresalaam, and you would see him celebrating with the trophy, taking undue credits overshadowing the architect. Well, he too had his share of success at the helm. Steering the team to league titles and a good run in Caf Champions League. Dylan Kerr contract at Gor Mahia did not elapse but asked for permission to attend to a sick relative in UK only later to land in South Africa with a coaching role at Black Leopards. Remember him of living without electricity, fetching bath water from a swimming pool and riding nduthis(motorcycle) to the training ground.
Hassan Oktay: succeeded Kerr, he will be remembered as the first coach to steer the Mighty Gor Mahia to CAF Championship 2nd round group stages. He also won the 2018/19 season. Not a man you’d always see blubbering in the media and I think he was humble in approach.
Now, Hassan Oktay like his predecessors has also taken some time off to attend to family matters just when the season is about to begin.
What could be the reason behind these exits after one or two seasons at the club? Blindly, the Kogalo diehards will say coaches come and go since they have been repeating local feats.
My take: continuation is very important in every setup, bringing a new personnel will only prompt him to match the success of the former at the expense of challenging to better the previous achievements .
In my opinion if you want to win something as Gor Mahia because you’ve shown the potential let’s have a rigid policy on your coaching staff and more so the head coaches…give them a 5 year contract based on bettering previous achievement and stage development.
Last but not least: don’t forget to pay them! You’re also known for not paying your staff.