Kenya Cup, While You Were Away…

Dear Kenya Cup, it will be exactly 363 days since the last time we enjoyed each other’s company, since you toyed with my emotions, like only you can.

Your Kenya Cup Saturdays.

On that afternoon of 29th day of February 2020, you served us with an enthralling 22 all draw between Homeboyz and KCB at the Jamuhuri Show grounds, had I known it would have been this long till I see you again, I would have enjoyed your company just a little bit more..

It has been 363 days of waiting, hopefully, desperately, speculating when you will return. ‘Experts,’ those with Uncles at the house on the hill and others with well placed sources close to the clay house all took turns at predicting your return. You are finally here and oh how I have missed you, you beauty!

Things have changed quite a bit since you were away, so before we formally meet on Saturday, allow me to catch you up with some of the important things.

First thing you need to know is that, we are not all in agreement on your return, while some can’t wait to see you this Saturday, others don’t understand why people are in such a hurry to meet you, they had been looking for an extra two or so weeks.

Among the concerns raised include, player safety, having not seen you for over 11 months, players need a bit more time to prepare for you, seeing how tough you are. Lack of funds to test players and to run the season are among the other reasons fronted by the ‘What is the hurry?’ side. As a result, when we do meet this Saturday, there will be only eight sides participating, not the twelve that you have become accustomed to.

The eight will be Kabras, KCB, Kenya Harlequins, Top Fry Nakuru, Menengai Oilers, Blak Blad and the promoted duo of Strathmore and MMUST. Missing in action will be Impala, Nondies, Homeboyz and Mwamba who might be joining you at a later date, if the rumours are anything to go by.

While you were away, players and fans alike picked up some interesting hobbies, to keep themselves busy. We picked up cooking, became personal fitness trainers, farmers, cyclists, others just took the time out and ate and drunk all they could. It was encouraging to see a sizeable number taking up charity activities to assist the societies around them during these difficult times.

While you were away, we spent almost all our time on social media, it was either jumping on and tagging anyone and everyone on challenges that faded away just as fast as the popped up or attending one of the countless webinars. In between we literally emptied our photo and video galleries, we no longer waited for Thursday or Friday, any day was a throw back and flash back and another chance to use the caption ‘Bring rugby back,’ or ‘When we could outside…’

While you were away, we started a new segment on the Hecklers podcast… Our Rugby Stories, you should check it out sometime, we have stories for days!

While you were away, players moved clubs while clubs moved grounds. I am afraid to say, that you won’t be seeing one of you favourite grounds any more, one that has hosted you for oh so long…how do I put this? Well you remember on 22nd February when ‘Reru’ hosted you for a clash between Impala and Mwamba, unfortunately that marked your last visit to the grounds. The grounds have since been taken over by the government for road construction.

Patrick Ruhiu at Reru

Mwamba have since found a temporary home at the UoN grounds with the hope of securing a permanent address soon. In the same breath, that 29th of February marked your last visit to the Jamuhuri showgrounds, as Nondies have since moved to a new address at the Ngong race course, it is a beautiful location, with a golf course on one side, a horse track on the other and bars right ahead…you’ll love it!

As I mentioned, players have also been on the move, Joshua Chisanga is now at Quins, so is Xavier Kipng’etich, Ken Moseti is at Impala, Samuel Motari is at Nondies. I’ll let the rest shock you on Saturday and as the season plays on. Quins have a new coach, by the name Antoine so do Kabras, he goes by ‘Coach Mzii’ hehehe, yes I know. These two have already faced each other in the season opening Sisimka Charity cup, where Coach Mzii came out with the win.

On a sad note, you will not be seeing the likes of Tony Onyango playing, or Allan Makaka and Sebastain Shivokha reminiscing on the days they played, Ian Waraba, Mohammed Fwamba and Phares Mbadi making their first team debuts, or Armstrong Githui cheering on the sidelines with beer in hand, they left us, while you were away.

There will be little or no fans watching you from the grounds this Saturday or in the Saturdays to come (Well in most grounds). Don’t worry, it is just that fans are yet to be allowed to come enjoy your beauty live. That being said, most of us will be glued to our TV screens following the action from the comfort of our living rooms, courtesy of K24.

You will notice that the few people on the grounds will have pieces of cloth covering their nose and mouths, they are not ninjas, they are just guys in facemasks, don’t worry you will get used to it soon, plus they usually remove them anyway. There will be no ESS, Championship or any other lower league matches to curtain raise for you, at least for now.

Balls will be sprayed regularly, people will be sitting a bit far further from each other that you are used to, the after match pleasantries will be short lived, if any…this is now all part of life for the foreseeable future, again, don’t worry you’ll get used to it.

Peter Kilonzo stopping George Nyambua. (Photo – Midego Fotography)

Have I missed anything? Oh, the title favourites remain the same, Kabras and KCB, though the Oilers might just surprise guys, Quins also. With eight teams in competition, your format has been adjusted slightly to a straight league, where the eight will play home and away, the team with the most points, wins! Remember how much fun that was? There will also be no teams relegated or promoted at the end of the season.

While your return could have been under better circumstances, the last 363 days have taught me to appreciate you whenever and however I can, that goes for most other things. So as you return this weekend, I look forward to enjoying each other’s company, albeit through a TV screen for now, I can’t wait to see you live, with my friends, beers in hand, voices on maximum and banter at it best. A full night of camaraderie at the club house with memories to last a laugh time!

Until then, I have waited 363 days, a few more won’t hurt, I will enjoy you from a distance as much as I can! Once again, it is great to have you back Kenya Cup, I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in these 14 weeks…welcome back!

A Kenyan Rugby FAN!

Nimeruka Nje!!!

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