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1969 - Susubiribi miss golden chance

This was the first fully-fledged competition after four seasons of trial and error. The number of participants was pruned down from 20 to 12. Great Ashanti, Hurricanes, Adansiman, Fankobaa, Standfast, Eagles, Akim United and Ho Sunset, all lost their first division status.

Asante Kotoko won on merit, beating audacious Abuakwa Susubiribi by only one point. Kotoko, then in the thick of the continental series, had a backlog of outstanding matches to clear. Susubiribi, then the leaders had the uncomfortable experience of watching Kotoko systematically clear their five outstanding fixtures to dislodge them from the top by only one point.

Susubiribi have themselves to blame for they blowing a chance to win the cup when the GFA ordered a replay of their match against Corners.

The first match on December 21, which officially ended the league, did not travel the full 90 minutes. Corners were leading 2-1 when Susubiribis midfielder, Okro, was shown the red card for rough play. Susubiribi protested vehemently and in the ensuing confusion the match was called off after only 20 minutes of the second half.

The GFA upheld the protest by Susubiribi and ordered a replay but Susubiribi strangely, rested most of their key players in this crucial replay, apparently thinking that Corners didnt need the points. They had a rude shock when Corners won the match by two goals to one.

n Susubiribi later on lodged a protest that Corners fielded an unregistered player, Jasper Manu. The protest was however dismissed by the Disciplinary Committee, headed by Mr. Justice E.N.P Sowah. The committee concluded that the two clubs might have colluded to fix the match because even though Corners fielded an unregistered player, Susubiribi failed to inspect the identity cards of the Corners players. The committee fined Corners 100 cedis and ruled that the score, 2-1, should stand.

Susubiribi hit back, engaging the services of three Accra lawyers to file a writ in Court in a bid to set aside the decision of the committee. The Lawyers were Mr. K. Dua-Sakyi, Mr. Ofosu Asante and Mr. Peter Swaniker.

At a press conference Mr. Henry Djaba, chief Patron of Susubiribi, alleged that Mr. Justice Sowah failed to advise himself properly on the rules governing the league and had arrogated to himself the role of an investigator and prosecutor. The case was later withdrawn from court. In a later development the Disciplinary Committee was reconstituted and headed by Col G.K. Yarboi, former Ashanti Regional Commissioner.

This was clearly Susubiribis best season and those were the days when the Tetteh Chandus the Boahenes, the Okros and Raimis reigned supreme at the Tafo Rovers Park. Indeed Susubiribi had an unbeaten run in 16 matches until they were halted by Hasaacas 2-0 at the Gyandu Park on November 21.

A few incidents of note during the season were the Susubiribi vrs. Dwarfs match at Tafo on November 2, which was abandoned 25 minutes to time due to poor visibility. It was goalless.

Then on November 9, a tough encounter in Accra between Hearts and Dwarfs ended abruptly a minute to time when Hearts were leading 1-0. Dwarfs drove home a goal that appeared to be the equalizer but before the ball could be brought back to the centre for a restart, some of the Hearts players rushed on the referee protesting vehemently. The referee ruled then that it was not a goal. Dwarfs also quickly protested and the match came to an abrupt end. Referee J.S. Smith of Sekondi told the press that he had disallowed the goal because a Dwarfs player was offside.

The GFA later ordered a replay on the strength of a Disciplinary Committee ruling which said that, from evidence received, it appeared the referee could not make up his mind at the material time whether it was a goal or not.

Earlier Dwarfs had threatened to quit the league unless the GFA took an amicable decision on the issue. When the replay was fixed for November 20 Hearts also threatened to quit the league and the replay never took place.

In a solidarity message, Abuakwa Susubiribi supported the threat by Hearts and said the replay was a clear indication that the GFA had special consideration for Dwarfs. Susubiribi alleged that in their last match against Dwarfs at Tafo, Dwarfs had been 35 minutes late but that the GFA had failed to sanction them.

The surprise result of the season was the 5-0 spanking Mysterious Dwarfs gave Kotoko at Cape Coast when the latter had just returned from a UK tour. It is on record as Kotokos biggest defeat in the league.

Kotoko were the first Ghanaian club to tour Britain in 1969. They played six matches against top clubs like Stoke City and Oxford United.

Wizard dribbler Osei Kofi disclosed to the author that Kotoko lost heavily to Dwarfs because they wrongly applied certain formations they learnt in the U.K. For example, he said, full back Oliver Acquah repeatedly tried to do overlapping and left the defence bare. Dwarfs exploited this to their advantage and before Kotoko could mend their ways, they were conceding goals with amazing rapidity.

Kotoko, however, earned a consolation 1-0 revenge in the second round at the Kumasi Stadium. Osei Kofis 10th minute match winner was so classic that Dwarfs goalkeeper, Robert Mensah, who was later to join Kotoko, openly congratulated Osei for his goal scoring wizardry.

There was controversy over this second leg match. It was originally fixed for a mid-week under floodlights. Dwarfs insisted on playing in broad daylight and actually went to the field in the afternoon, and then left. Kotoko, obviously prepared for an evening encounter, came later but saw no Dwarfs on the pitch. Fans went home disappointed.

The GFA fixed a new date and Kotoko won on a bright Palm Sunday afternoon. This was the match that unearthed the talents of Essel Mensah, hitherto overshadowed by John Botchwey in the Kotoko posts.
--SOURCE: KotokoExpress