The month of November appears to remind us of several historical events in the nations sporting calendar.
November 3 marked the 40th anniversary of the untimely death of Robert Mensah easily the most outstanding goalkeeper in his generation.
Boxing fans will remember Nov 6 as the dark night when David Kotey Poison lost his world title bell to Mexican Danny (Little Red) Lopez at the floodlit Accra Stadium.
Sunday, Nov 14 marked the 9th anniversary of the death of former Vice President Aliu Mahama a founding executive member of Tamale Real United. An engineer by profession, Alhaji Mahama was among those who guided Abedi Pele to become such a successful professional player.
Others include Alhaji Gbadamosi, Alhaji Jawura, Alhaji B. A Fuseini and Jones Abu Alhassan.
How fitting it is that the magnificent Tamale Stadium has been named after Alhaji Aliu Mahama for his immense contribution to sports in the Northern Region.
May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.
On the brighter side football fans on Nov 8 celebrated the 57th birthday of Abedi Ayew Pele, one of the most celebrated Ghanaian footballers in history.
Supporters of champion club Accra Hearts of Oak will also celebrate the 45th anniversary of their splendid 3-0 over Mufulira Wanderers of Zambia at El-Wak Stadium that gave them a final berth in the CAF champions league.
It was a few days to the Phobians 87th anniversary and they have just hit the 110th year last week.
The last but not the least remembrance in November is the historic achievement of Sekondi Hasaacas Ladies football club in the ongoing maiden AFCON championship for women’s football clubs.
The Black Stars’ hectic World Cup 2022 qualifier against South Africa in Cape Coast will also be remembered for all the controversies surrounding the match, the penalty goal, team selection, change of coaches et al.
As I was saying, Robert Mensah’s death was so dramatic and shocking that it turned out to be the biggest funeral for a sporting hero in the country.
Robert’s team mates in Kotoko were in camp preparing for CAF champions league match against Great Olympics in Kumasi. Robert was not in camp. Discipline was not his strong point and he was involved in a brawl at a drinking spot at Tema.
He was stabbed and died in hospital a few days later. A sad end to a brilliant football career and the nation gave him a big funeral. The body was flown from Accra to Kumasi by the Air Force for a short ceremony then to Takoradi where it went by road to Cape Coast his home town for the funeral and burial.
The old Cape Coast Stadium at Siwdu is named after him.
Then we come to Kotey Poisons defeat in front of a home crowd. It was ironical that he won the title in front of a home crowd in Los Angeles in Sept 1975 outclassing Reuben Olivares and he also was beaten in front of a home crowd.
Kotey was at his best that Nov 6 night in Accra, dishing out all his poisonous punches but the Mexican stood firm raising suspicion that he might have been doped.
Indeed, Lopez was rushed to the 37 Military Hospital immediately after the fight. Ghana Boxing Association (GBA) officials said they found suspicious looking empty drug sachets at the ringside. There was however no conclusive evidence of doping. End of story.
Now let’s all hail Abedi Pele for his contribution to football in Ghana.
Abedi has a special place in the history of Sportswriters Association of Ghana (SWAG). When the SWAG named him 1977 colt player of the year SWAG patron Mr S.K Mainoo offered to sponsor his education up to any level he could make.
He paid 5,000 cedis into SWAG accounts to cater for the youngster at Ghana Secondary school in Tamale. He was in school when Real Tamale United (RTU) registered him and he defiantly rubbed shoulders with his seniors.
He became an instant hit and when his mentor S.K. Mainoo became GFA chairman, he influenced the selection of the youngster into the Black Stars much to the discomfort of coaches Osam Duodu and Afranie then in charge of the Black Stars.
The coaches said Abedi was too much of ball chaser and seriously destroyed formations. The snag however was, Abedi put more fire in attacking machinery, creating goals and scoring at times. This debate resulted one day in confrontation when my colleague Joe Aggrey, then GFA member, wanted to know the kind of special formation of the coaches that Abedi was destroying. The coaches were not amused at all with his question and implored me to talk to my friend.
Abedi continued to show amazing courage in the midst of bullying defenders notably Ofei Ansah of Hearts fame and his exploits since his debut in Libya 1982 are there for all to see.
Abedi has played in four more Afcons 1984, 1992, 1994, 1996 and to cap it all he had produced two great international footballers Andre and Jordan who are making it big both at home and abroad.
Andre has an added bonus of captaining the Black Stars like his father did. Not only that, he has just celebrated his 100th appearance for the Black Stars on their way to pick a spot to World Cup 2022.
Happy November to all.
By Ken Bediako| Veteran Ghanaian Sports Journalist