Honour memories of fans that perished in Nigeria – Alhaji Dodoo Ankrah
A former Ghana international and Accra Great Olympics goalkeeper, Alhaji Dodoo Ankrah, has called on the nation’s sports authorities to honour the memories of Ghanaian supporters who perished on their way to Nigeria to cheer on the Black Stars in 1959.
The fans were travelling to Africa’s most populous country to support the Black Stars against the Super Eagles, when the vehicle in which they were travelling clashed with a fuel tanker and caught fire, with a number of them who burnt beyond recognition.
Those who survived the accident continued with the journey to support the team, which drew 2-2 with the Super Eagles.
According to the 89-year old veteran, known in his heyday as ‘Magic Hands’, memories of those fans have been lost because Ghana, as a country, has failed to pay a fitting tribute to them.
In an interview with the Times Sports on Saturday after receiving a special award from the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) at its 47th annual awards night held at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC), Alhaji Dodoo Ankrah, said it was important to honour their memories just as it’s done for the Accra Sports Stadium May 9 Disaster victims.
“I have been thinking about this for a long time but thanks be to God I have the opportunity to remind our leaders about this incident. These were gallant supporters that decided to travel by road all the way to Nigeria to support the Black Stars.
“According to the report we had in camp, their vehicle had a head-on collision with a fuel tanker and caught fire and the supporters got trapped in their vehicle.”
Alhaji Dodoo Ankrah said “a few managed to escape and surprisingly continued with their journey to the stadium to support us. We drew two all; it was a difficult game for the two sides”.
But what has been a bother to the oldie is that there has been no activity to remind Ghanaians or football fans of the level of commitment shown by those brave fans.
“Comparatively, the number of the dead was not as huge as the May 9 disaster we commemorate every year, but the commitment and loyalty shown by them was worth remembering. The nation must do something to honour the memories of these loyal fans because they were part of the success we achieved in that era,” he said.
He commended SWAG for the award and honour bestowed on him and expressed the hope that it would spur on the current generation of sportsmen and women to strive to be at their best and perform for the nation at the biggest platforms to also earn such honours.
“Football, for instance, has evolved. It is not like our time again; it involves a lot of money so naturally, it must motivate the players to give their best.”
He said if the current players raised their performance, it would benefit the performance of the national teams, especially the Black Stars, to continue the chase for a fifth Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title.
Some of the players that featured in that historic game were Edward Acquah, Joe Aikins, Addo Odametey, Frank Crenstil, E.O Oblittey, Ben Achampong, Baba Yara, Wilberforce Mfum, Mohammed Salisu and Ofei Dodoo.
Alhaji Dodoo Ankrah was honoured together with another legend of the game, Awuley Quaye Snr, for their contribution to the development of football
BY ANDREW NORTEY