It was all over the news in 1999, towards the end of the season precisely that a friendly match was going to hold between Taribo West and some of his club (Inter Milan), national team friends and team Pepsi at the National stadium in Lagos. If you remember it was that year my beloved Manchester United won the tremendous treble (EPL, FA Cup and Champions league).Yea I had to rub that in. Back to the gist at hand, I was supposed to be in school for extension classes but we were asked to go back home for reasons I can’t clearly remember. I was reunited with my day student buddies that stayed around the area even though I had to chill till afternoon to see them. I remember my aunt saying Dipo you have way too much friends for a shy person.
The gist of the Taribo West and friends versus team Pepsi charity match filled the airwaves daily as the match day drew near and I could only wish to go to the stadium to watch the game. I was at my cousins because my mum wasn’t in the country and my senior brothers were at work/school. I had known before asking that my aunt wouldn’t allow me go to the stadium. The only chance I ever had to go the National stadium was when I was much younger, my grandmother was a sports loving person and she took my elder brothers to sporting events at the stadium, but at this particular period she was 83 years old so there no chance.
My big bro and cousin who were both in Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) came home specifically for the game. They bought their tickets along with three other cousins and rubbed it in my face literally. I cursed my luck for being young at the time. I decided to walk up to my aunt to ask if I could go with the others and a NO response was handed to me before I could even finish my statement. I was hurt though at the end I knew her no was the best response she could have given me. I started giving the whole house attitude, people would call me and I would ignore them or mumble unprintable words. To my rescue came my cousin Big Yomz. He said he would talk to his mum (my aunt who said no) about me going with them and that I would be safe.
My aunt finally agreed to let me go with them but the major problem was me getting a ticket because gist had gone round town that tickets had sold out. I went round Lagos, from Gbagada to Surulere to Ikeja but no luck. The game was 2 days away (June 2, 1999). I went to Egbeda to visit my friend who’s mum knew Emmanuel Maradas (I think he was chief editor of Africa Soccer Magazine) to see if they had tickets. Shockingly they didn’t. All hope was lost. I left for home and on my way in the bus I heard someone say he was going to the Chief Segun Odegbami owned Worldwide Sports company on Oweh Street in Jibowu, Yaba to get tickets for the same game. I decided to follow him and on getting there we saw a crowd and I was scared I wouldn’t get a ticket.
Alas the worst happened. I couldn’t get the much desired ticket. I sat on the stairs with tears almost dropping when a thick voice asked me what the problem was. It was obvious this guy was a street guy (with a good heart though) with the way he was dressed. I wonder how you would buy original Levi’s jeans and put holes all over. Anyway I told him I had gone all over Lagos just to get the ticket for this game without success. He told me I was lucky that he had the tickets for sale. At first I was scared because it could fake or something. I told him to bring the ticket while I was putting my hand in my pocket to pay him and oh by the way popular side tickets cost one hundred naira (N100) then. On seeing the two 50 naira notes the guy withdrew his hand and told me he is selling it at 150 naira. I told him but it was N100 they advertised and he said you no know say na black market. I told him I had only 20 naira left that would take me back home and turned to leave. After walking for a few meters he whistled and I looked back, he asked me to come and gave me the ticket saying na because you be small boy o. I handed him the money and said thank you. I neatly folded the ticket and put in my pocket.
I got home smiling and screaming yes I am going to National stadium. I asked the other guys for their tickets and saw that my ticket wasn’t fake after all but I noticed their seats were very far from mine. This could be a problem if there’s violence or something of that nature at the stadium. I told one of my cousins and he laughed saying sitting arrangement in Naija hardly works (not then anyway) and that we were all going to sit together. I was glad. I had my ticket and I was going to roll with the big boys. I couldn’t wait for the match day, I was already thinking of how to tell the story to my friends when I went back to school. They were sure going to be jealous of me.
TO BE CONTINUED.
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Thanks for your time and sorry I have not written in a while……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. BLESS!!!
Twitter handles: @dipoogun/@theswizzmemoirs