In Kerr, Gor’s rosy love story with British coaches stretches on
As coaches go, Dylan Kerr is just the latest case of Gor Mahia FC’s odd success with British tacticians.
The Englishman guided his side to a record 16th Kenyan Premier League (KPL) title with four matches to spare following their 1-0 win over Ulinzi Stars on Saturday.
It is a startling statistic considering it was almost an identical repeat of circumstances as two years ago when Scottish Frank Nuttall beat the same opposition by a similar scoreline to seal an unprecedented third successive title for the club.
Only this time their triumph had come in Nakuru.
Having taken over from Brazilian Jose Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ Ferreira in the mid-season, Kerr transformed Gor into a smooth rolling machine trampled upon anything that came before it.
A 1-0 defeat to Mathare United blighted what would have been a fairy tale four months for the retired defender who has won 12 of 15 matches he has overseen at K’Ogalo.
In winning the KPL title, Kerr thus joined Nuttall, Bobby Williamson and the late Leonard Bruce Julians in the league of Britons that have made distinguished marks on Kenya’s most successful football club.
Kerr has the opportunity to enhance his profile at K’Ogalo by bringing them more success having settled seamlessly.
Born in Tottenham, London, in 1933, Julians is remembered as a Gor legend for guiding the club to three straight titles from 1983 to 1985. He later led them to yet another title in 1991.
Besides the four titles under his belt, Julians is remembered for raising and polishing arguably one of the finest generation of K’Ogalo players, including Sammy ‘Jogoo’ Onyango, Hesborn Omollo, John ‘Zangi’ Okello, Charles ‘The Engine’ Otieno and Abbas Magongo, among others.
Coming to Gor as the only second foreign coach after Ugandan David Oti, he is also attributed as one of the coaches who revolutionized the club’s signing policy when he brought to K’Ogalo a crop of youthful players in 1982, after the senior players boycotted duty citing ‘lack of respect’.
They were camping at the Lenana High School, preparing for a continental clash against Madagascar’s FC Dynamo, where they felt bathing using cold water and sleeping in double-décor beds was treating them like students.
It was Julians’ firm stand that carried the day, safeguarding his name in the club’s folklore.
Not only at Gor does his tale remains a fairy, but also at Arsenal where he netted 10 goals in 24 starts between 958 to 1960.
In 2015, Nutall repeated a feat only previously achieved by Allan Thigo in 1976, when he led Gor to winning the KPL without a single defeat in their entire campaign.
Nuttall had already won it the previous season with his side also losing finalists to Tanzanian giants Azam (1-0) in the Cecafa Kagame Cup in Dar es Salaam.
He was on the verge of matching Julians’ record of three straight titles, but a fallout with the club’s management early in 2016 saw him switch to Egypt where he enjoyed a short stint at Zamalek.
K’Ogalo faithful remember Nutall for setting up the ‘Kenyan invincibles’ in 2015.
Prior to Nuttall, fellow Scot Bobby Williamson had also had his time in the sun with the club, guiding Gor to the 2013 KPL honours, the first title for the club in 18 years.After achieving this dream, Williamson respectfully bowed out to take a bigger challenge at the national football team Harambee Stars.
Fast forward, with continental football part of their assignment next season, Kerr could become only the second coach to win a title of such magnitude after Danish Jack Jackson who was at the helm when Gor won the Nelson Mandela Cup (Africa Cup Winners Cup) in 1987.
The 2018 Africa Champions League (ACL) presents Kerr with such opportunity as Gor represent Kenya in the most prestigious club football action in the continent.
He has already avoided adding his name to the list of shame which has Cameroonian Anaba Owono as the only foreign coach to miss silverware at Gor.
Musa extends stay
Meanwhile, captain Musa Mohammed became the latest player to extend his stay at the club after Jacques Tuyisenge, Harun Shakava and Ernest Wendo, signing a new two-year contract on Wednesday. The defender is the longest serving member in the current squad.
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