In the 80s, before DSTV became popular, Stationery Stores Football Club (Adebajo Babes) supporters were storming every stadium in Nigeria in a “high Spirit.” They didn’t just come to town; they came to intimidate the home club and everyone that would attend stadium on that day. They came like bees, in large numbers, rolling Kekere and chanting all over town: Up Flaming! Up stores!
I saw them enter the Nnamdi Azikwe stadium Enugu in the match between Rangers International VS Stationery Stores in 1984. Over fifty Moluwe (School Buses) commuted more than five thousand supporters from Lagos, stormed the stadium and immediately the atmosphere changed. The air was filled with the foul smell of Sosorobia scent, the typical fragrance worn by any supporter of Stores. All of them had a white handkerchief, worn as a necktie or as Plaster of Paris rolled round their left hands. It was so hectic to control them during the match. Several times you will find some of them struggling with the Police. They keep booing the home team and cheering their own team through out the match
It’s a different ball game when Stores are playing at home in Onikan Stadium Lagos. Hell is let loose and it’s free for all smoking of India Hemp (Marijuana) and the performance of some fetish rituals. You dare not support the opponent team or you risk being beaten up. The opponent team was threatened as well as the referees. Stores must win the home game or someone gets hurt.
Kashimawo Laloko, former coach of Stores confessed that the supporters club forced the players to use Juju (Voodoo) during their matches. Though, they had great players like Peter Rufai, Ike Shoromu, Arthur Moses, Felix Ademola, Dotun Alatishe, Ajibade Babalade, Ibrahim Babangida, Ndubisi Chukunyere, Teslim Fatusi, Haruna Ilerika, Muda Lawal, Gabriel Melkam etc, Stores couldn’t do without Juju.
Yet, Stores wouldn’t be rated as the top club even in Lagos, Julius Berger FC were performing better in the league and challenge cup; but the support Stores enjoyed in Lagos was phenomenal. They were the Lagos darling club, owned by Lagosians themselves.
Though, Israel Adebajo was the founder of Stores, most of the supporters were members of Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and the Yoruba Tennis Club Onikan. They ran the club themselves. They decide which Coach or players would be signed for the club. They also get involved in the payment of the players salaries too. As they say, He who pays the piper dictates the tune. So the supporters were actually stakeholders in the club.
A school of thought believes that the big wings of Stores supporters controlled the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) at Ogunlana Drive Surulere then. They also believe that it was Stores supporters club that metamorphosed into Super Eagle supporters today.
Well, those days has gone with the time. The Flaming flamingoes as they were called, died in the struggle for ownership by the Adebajo families and all the supporters dispersed like the birds of the air.
Secondly, with advernt of satellite television, most Nigeria football followers has stop going to the stadium. They now watch the English Premier League (EPL) on DSTV or HiTV and consequently, they have all switched allegiance to Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Barcelona etc. The passion to support local clubs in Nigeria has died a “technological death.”