Wa All Stars’ Journey to The Top of Ghana Football

Growing up as a young boy who was mad crazy about soccer in the 90s, the rivalry between WA Kwamax and Upper West Heroes in the Division One league was everything a local derby was about. Always full of fireworks & controversial decisions.

Twice every season, my daddy (an ardent Heroes fan) would take me to the WA Park and spend more time holding & keeping in check than watching the game itself. It was therefore a bit sad and depressing when Kwamax got relegated & went into oblivion, only to be followed by Heroes a few years later. WA & Upper West as a whole was robbed of adrenaline feisty derby matches.

wa-al-starsThen came along WA All Stars. Founded in 2006, the team gained promotion into the Premier league the following year and I still remember neglecting my books during my WASSCE exams in 2007 and crowding around a radio set in Tamale Secondary School to listen to commentary on the Division One Middle League, as All Stars fought bravely to beat Lepo Stars & Bolga All Star to qualify into the premier at their first time of asking. In that group listening to commentary of that last group match in 2007 was a certain Sadick Alhassan (take note of the name).

It has been a topsy-turvy journey to the top for WA All Stars with the team having to scour the lower tiers of Ghana football to sign players on their low budget.

For me as a fan, winning the league was a script written by the footballing gods and it is a memorable occasion that will forever be etched in my mind. The club had to promote Assistant Coach Enos Kwame Adipah after the departure of Coach Jimmy Cobblah and after the 3-0 hammering of Secondi Hassacas on the opening day, both players and fans dared to dream and like Leicester City in England, WA All Stars proved that “moneyball” indeed does work and 2015/2016 is indeed the year of the UNDERDOGS”.

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The penultimate match against league leaders Aduana Stars was full of twists and turns just like the whole season has been.

The team were naive at times and inexperience cost them points in the league.

After a scoring early and making a bright start in the title decider, a loss of concentration allowed Aduana Stars a route back into the match as the team was caught ball watching and even the ever reliable Richard Ofori in goal could only parry Bright Adjei’s strike into the net. There were to be further nail-biting moments for the fans in the stands when top scorer Yahaya Mohammed raced clear of the home defence but perhaps surprised by the amount of space & time afforded to him he dragged his strike agonizingly wide of the far post.

The team regained their composure and not even Richard Arthur’s tame penalty miss in the first half after he seized the ball from regular penalty taker Sadick Alhassan could dampen the spirit of the players and most importantly the fans in the stands who chanted “OLE OLE OLE” throughout the match.

The second half was a steady tactical battle with Aduana happy to sit back & hit All Stars on the counter. The tactic seemed to be working but with six minutes to go, a needless tackle in the box from the Aduana defenders led to the second penalty of the game and this time around regular penalty taker Sadick Alhassan stepped up to the penalty spot nine years after we were huddled together nervously clutching a radio set in a dormitory in Hayfron house in Tamasco, he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way and duly wrapped up a nervy season for both players and fans.

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The roars from the crowd were deafening and at that moment I knew my beloved WA All Stars had arrived at the “TABLE OF MEN”

All hail WA All Stars, the first team from the North to win Ghana’s prestigious league.

 

Author:  Saaka Muizzdeen Oliman

Twitter: @smuizzgh

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