Prisons Football Club (Maroons) went into history by becoming the first team to win the National Football League in 1968, they also became the first team to retain the title. Robert Mugagga looks at the 1969 season that produced jaw dropping goal scoring record.
The second edition of the league returned in 1969 with 11 teams. Apart from Mbarara United, all the seven teams that were part of the 1968 season returned. These included Prisons, Simba, Coffee, Express, Jinja, Masaka and Mbale.
The newcomers included Soroti, Masindi and Police. Masindi was later disqualified from the league for failing to honor their fixtures.
This was after Masindi lost 16-0 to the champions Prisons, the funders of Masindi were so disappointed with the outrageous loss and stopped funding the club.
Every season comes with its own memories but the 1969 season will be remembered for the goals, all the top six teams in Prisons (56), Express (64), Jinja (42), Simba (43), Police (43) and Coffee (42) scored more than 40 goals in the 18 matches played.
Even Mbale Heroes who finished the season bottom of the log managed to register 31 goals despite managing just two wins and a draw, they also conceded the most, 82 in total. Apart from Prisons 16-0 win over Masindi, Express also put 14 past Kilembe Mines.
Express striker Ali Kitonsa scored 36 of the 64 goals his team scored, this should actually be the most number of goals scored in the league until SC Villa striker Andrew Fimbo Musaka broke it in 1999 with his 45 goals.
Much as many quarters have reported that Mukasa broke Jimmy Kirunda’s 32 goals record, the former Uganda Cranes captain scored those in the 1978 season.
How Prisons overcame the stiff competition
Much as Prisons managed to retain title, there was stiff competition from Express who on 26 points were three points behind the champions. Third Jinja and Simba in fourth were four and five points behind Prisons respectively.
According to historians, Prisons had reinforcements with star players like goalkeeper Peter Wanyonyi they also recruited two Makerere University students Charles Ebalu and Ben Ezaga.
These were too good and helped Prisons sharpen their striking line, Ebalu’s footballing skills were first spotted and polished while still a student at St. Mary’s College Kisubi (SMACK).
But Prisons’ secret weapon happened to be their training strategy whereby load work and hard training were emphasized.
Every morning players would run across Luzira neighborhood of Butabika, Nakawa, Biina and back. Because of this hard training, they would hardly get tired during league matches and this enabled the players last up to 90 minutes.