When Villa turned Masaka into a fortress 33 years ago
- Written by Hassan Badru Zziwa
Friday, January 27, 2023, marked 33 years since SC Villa relocated to Masaka recreation ground into its home ground.
For starters, by 1989, SC Villa, like a couple of other top-flight clubs such as KCC FC, Express, Coffee, Bank of Uganda (BoU) FC, Uganda Airlines, and Nsambya were sharing Nakivubo stadium.
The absence of an alternative stadium affected the progress of the league and Uganda Cup tournament; so, the relocation of SC Villa to Masaka was a sigh of relief to Fufa.
After winning the 1989 double (the league and Uganda Cup), SC Villa maverick chairman Patrick Kawooya held a press conference and announced his club’s relocation to Masaka recreation ground. He said SC Villa was the leading club in the country, and so they had to lead others in the new development.
Kawooya, who was a keen supporter of English football, noted that the stadiums in Europe attract big crowds simply because the teams hail from different cities and, therefore, the fans easily identify themselves with the area teams. He also noted that, besides Kampala, SC Villa had a big following in Masaka where most of its top brass hailed from.
These included Franco Mugabe, George Faison Damulira, Joe Muganzi, Bob Kabuye, Andrew “Zzimwe” Kasagga, and Alex Kiseego.
Before the commencement of the 1990 league, the National Football League Committee (NFLC) inspected the pitch and asked the management to fix some areas that were in a sorry state.
Masaka had last hosted a top-flight match in 1985, when Masaka Union FC was in existence. Since then, the facility has been used by schools and other local tournaments.
The absence of big-time football left the facility neglected. There was no inner fence, something that compromised the safety of the players. The playing surface was also bumpy, and the dressing rooms were non-functional.
THE BIG GAME
The 1991 season began on Saturday, January 27, 1990, and SC Villa opened with KCC FC at Masaka Recreation Ground. SC Villa started as hot favourites after boasting a side with two key defenders in the names of Adam Semugabi and Reymond Luganda.
KCC had also strengthened its side with new recruits like Issa Sekatawa, Godfrey Serunyigo, Yusuf Gitta and Asumani Katongole. On match day, the recreation ground was full to capacity by 2 pm, and the fans were dressed in blue (for Villa) and KCC’s yellow jerseys, singing and dancing in a scorching sun.
Fifa referee Herbert Kizza handled the game. The chief guest was NRM vice chairman Hajji Moses Kigongo. The game ended 2-2 with KCC scoring through Sekatawa and Serunyigo, while Majid Musisi grabbed a brace for SC Villa.
SC Villa’s equalizer came in stoppage time, which caused a commotion with both sets of fans storming the pitch. This resulted in a fight that left many wounded, and police had to fire into the air to calm down the situation.
From then on, Villa turned the ground, popularly known as ‘Ku Liiku’ as a fortress and in the five years they spent there, the Jogoos won three league titles. But on a few occasions, police had to be called in to disperse rioting fans.
BACK TO KAMPALA
However, after winning the 1994 league title, Franco Mugabe’s new executive returned the club to Kampala, yielding to pressure from a section of fans who complained about the long distance from Kampala to Masaka.
In 2017, then Villa president Ben Misagga briefly returned the club to Masaka with some success, especially attracting huge crowds, but yet again, the successive administration got it back to Kampala. At the moment, it shares Wankulukuku stadium with Express FC.
LINEUPS IN OPENER
SC VILLA: Tom Musoke, William Nkemba, Geoffrey Higenyi, Paul Hasule (captain), Raymond Luganda, Twaha Kivumbi, Ronnie Vubya (Semakula), Steven Bogere, Sula Kato, Majid Musisi and Sunday Mokiri/Peter Nsaba.
KCC: Sadiq Wassa/Ibrahim Kongo, Patrick Kabuye, Charles Masiko (captain), E. Amacha, George Nsimbe, Sam Ssimbwa, Charles Senyange/A. Katongole, Issa Sekatawa, Godfrey Serunyigo and Ignatius Begumanya.