There is always something special about rugby under the Nairobi night sky, with the floodlights replacing the stars, something that we have missed for over two years now, and with the return of Floodies, something that we will be experiencing this weekend!

As we all await the return of the Impala Floodlits, how about some stories, to remind us all of the unique experience that is Floodies? I’ll start us off, with my top three Floodies stories…

The Start

My earliest memory of Floodies, has to be when we won the school’s category with the lean mean winning Patch Machine from Nairobi School in 2006. Yes I might have earlier ones, but you know…I chose this one. That campaign run started with a narrow 6-3 win over Upperhill in the quarter finals, in a game that out star, Ken Moseti suffered a concussion right after kick off.

This set up a semi final clash against Mang’u, who we would share a proper rivarly with through the rest of that year, facing each other in the National and EA games finals, as well as the Prescott Semi finals. On this occassion though, we scrapped another 3 point win, if my memory serves me right, it was a last minute kick. Oh that Mang’u side had the likes of the Kangethe twins, Eric Kioko, Joshua ‘Rojo’ Gathumbi etc.

It was time for the final and who do we meet, you guessed it, our bitter rivals Mean Maroon from Lenana School. To this day I still wonder how they made that final, they must have been playing against Primary Schools on that side, anyway walipigwa kama nyani imeiba nguo kwa soko…it wasn’t even close and BOOM, we were Floodlit champions, starting off the schools’ season in style! Ilikua sweeeet!!!

The Sibling Rivalry

That same year, after lifting the schools’ title, myself and some of my team mates changed into tshirts to apparently ‘blend in,’ then stayed back to watch the club final pitting Mean Machine and Impala or the Simiyu family show. On one side, Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu in the blue and white hoops of Machine, and on the other in the Impala red, Victor Sudi and Nato Simiyu.

The only photo from that match, yes that is Leslie Libasia. (Courtesy of Daily Nation)

Sudi on the wing, Nato at 10, Namcos at 15. Sudi and Namcos had each emptied those small tins of Vaseline petroleum jelly on their humoungous legs, to a point that they reflected the lights and would burn your eyes if you stared at them for long, in similar fashion to a mirror held up to the sun.

That game had one recurring theme, ball reaches Nato and he hoofs it high into the night sky, Namcos gathers on the opposite side, with both Nato and Sudi charging at him like mad buffaloes, Namcos would more often than not evade his brothers (must have been the vaseline) to set up something for Machine.

Machine would go on to win that game and the title completing a perfect night for the Machines. As we made our way out of the grounds, were in complete awe of what we had just watched, the intensity, the skill, the atmosphere. All of us left there saying, yap that is the game I want to play! It remains one of my fondest rugby matches, yet I can’t remember one play, but what I remember vivdly is the feeling it gave me, to this day!

The 40 Bob Shots

This has to be either 2011 or 2012 (it is confusing cause there were three editions of the tournament held in these two years), we were exuberant young men with a few coins in our pockets, always ready for fun. Then the good people at Impala decided to partner with the drink of the moment back then…Kibeng!

If you know how they set up Impala during Floodies, there is usually a bar at the far end of the Pavi side, right next to where KCB and USIU sit. So the norm was walk in, grab a beer at pavi, then sip on it slowly as you wait for the drinks that you had snuck in to arrive. On this first day of the tournament, the bar on that far side took a while to set up so we finished what we had bought, then one guy decides to go check out what was available, as we wait for our stash.

“ATI?!!” That was what we heard next from the guy, as he immediately signaled us to come to the bar, “Maguys, ati shots ni 40 bob!” That is how the evening went south, as word spread that there are shots for 40 bob at the corner bar, it grew into a small pilot bash…I doubt any of us watched the last match.

At the far left….

Fast forward to the next weekend and guess where everyone was gathered, as early as 11AM? That had to be the weekend with the least amount of smuggled drinks in the history of rugby! In true fashion our guy in a pick up came in fashionably late, set up and got the party started, I think he went for four of five reloads aaah it was beautiful!

Last weekend tena repeat repeat, wapi? The guy didn’t show up! Aaah we waited, remember now we had not snuck in anything, our budgets were aligned to the 40 bob shots, aaah machozi! We sat there waiting for our Kibeng Santa to arrive, like how we used to wait at the gate to be visited in high school, aah iliuma, yenyewe you can never count on Impala!

Your Turn!

I could go on and on…with my sack load of Floodies stories, one where I was almost kicked out for looking like a High school kid, the first one I MCed at, the first one when I sat confidently as the MC made that famous announcement at 6PM, “All children under the age of 18 and those in school uniform, please exit the grounds!”

But it is your turn, share your Floodies story with us all in the comments section or on your socials with the hashtags #MyFloodiesStory #FloodiesIsBack #Floodies2022 you never know, there might be a prize for the best story.

It is also time to make new Floodies memories, especially for you who doesn’t have one…starting this weekend, for only 300 bob, so grab your ticket, here a friend or two, don’t try sneak in a drink (siku hizi security ni wabaya)…and see you at Impala!

KWISHA… Nimeruka Nje!!!

P.S I found a review of that 2006 Floodies final weekend, here – https://nation.africa/kenya/sports/machine-roll-over-impala-as-ref-survives-injury-scare-512968

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