Saturday 3rd July. So many questions. Each started with “What if”. Every time I closed my eyes I saw Jabulani crashing off the crossbar. Usually, the pain of defeat doesn’t hit me till the morning after, and when it does, it hits hard. Cue Liverpool’s loss to AC Milan in the 2007 Champions League final.
I hoped a trip into town would take my mind off football.
It wasn’t long before I got a near-empty Benz 207. The city of Accra was, after all, still mourning the Black Stars’ exit from the World Cup in the most agonizing of circumstances. It was a silent ride, except for the mate begging us to give him coins instead of notes. Any stranger in town would definitely know something was wrong. Amakye Dede whispered “Sokoo na mmaa pe” from the grainy radio.
Soon, the driver was as fed up as I was of the presenter’s frequent interruptions. He flipped the channel. Again. And again. There was nothing on radio. He eventually settled for hip-hop on Y FM. Very unlike a trotro, I thought, but if it would help me forget the wicked thoughts for a certain Uruguayan I’ll never meet that were dancing in my head, anything was welcome for me. Not for the driver. With one more flip of the dial we were at Oman FM. Football was on. Germany had just started what would become a routing of Argentina.
Four men behind me, each travelling separately, shouted, “Driver, change the station!” “We want music!” I laughed for the first time that day. My laughter turned into groans of anguish as these men carefully re-opened my healing wounds with a post-mortem of the events of the previous night.
They reminded me how a sure goal was swatted out by what Luis Suarez in brazen blasphemy calls “The real Hand of God”.One guy was wondering when the rules were changed, because in the past, the referee would’ve had to award the goal. Two other men agreed with him. Gross ignorance, but then, why interrupt? I’d probably get a blow around the ears for my troubles, anyway.
The driver flatly refused their request. If we didn’t like his preference we should get down. He continued that even Asamoah Gyan, who had forced big men all over Ghana to wear Pampers after his penalty miss, was fine. This painful conversation brought the memories flooding back. Frustration was pouring like acid rain. Interestingly, one of them lamented he’d been called to eat at half-time. He said he was waiting for the final victory. Needless to say, he went to bed on an empty stomach.
Football discussions in a trotro. They never end. But I’d rather have a discussion than listen to Twi commentary. Have you ever listened to a game in a crowded trotro? That’s 90 minutes of your heart in your mouth. Guaranteed. The commentators are experts of poetry and description. They exaggerate and sensationalize the slightest of touches. Each scream pumps a fresh dose of adrenaline into the blood. By full time, you’re as high as a junkie. God forbid that your team loses. Your mood will dip so quickly, you’d think you were on a roller coaster through hell. The worst offenders for me are Peace FM and Happy FM on a Champions League evening. So I avoid them. I’m too young to die.
So, whether or not you like football, what are some of the loudest and most passionate football scenes you’ve encountered in a trotro? Have you endured some commentary and analysis from one of our numerous arm-chair coaches?
The driver never changed the station. He’d obviously got over the defeat and was getting on with his life. I was left to pick up the broken pieces of my existence as I wobbled out, unable to flush the image of John Mensah kicking the ball like he was playing with his son in the backyard. The commentator had raised his voice to impossible decibels as a chance went a-begging: “Ekaa keteketekete…!” Indeed. All I needed to walk away, straight into football hibernation.
That didn’t last long. By Monday, 5th July, the cloud of gloom remained over Accra, and there was no running away from the agony. The conversations around the newspaper stall at 37 were the same as the ones in the trotros, which were the same as the one on my Saturday journey. A security man, obviously a regular at the stand, was complaining bitterly. One woman silenced the crowd for a second when she shouted in disgust, “All of you standing here, you can’t play anything, that’s why you’re here talking and not playing.” She walked off, followed by stares that could wake the dead. There went another person who’d had enough of football … for now.
It hurts. It really does. Sir Alex Ferguson once said, “Football. Bloody hell.” I’ve never agreed with the man more.
P.S. The Daily Commute has been published fortnightly for a while. I will be putting up weekly posts on some Mondays.