For five years, I lived and worked in Dormaa-Ahenkro, a town near Ghana’s border with western neighbours Ivory Coast, only moving out in June 2022.
The Dormaa are an ancient people. A proud people, too. They migrated to their present settlement hundreds of years ago, driven all the way from the Eastern Region of modern Ghana mainly by conflict — or the ‘mere’ threat of same — to seek their little corner of the world where they could, finally, settle in peace and flourish.
And they’ve since worked very hard to protect, promote and preserve that peace.
I certainly did find them, generally, peace-loving folk. Go about your business as you should, and you would feel such serenity and security in Ahenkro, their capital. Most residents and natives couldn’t hurt a fly if they tried, and I retain many cordial friendships from my time there. Lovely, lovely place.
NAB 1️⃣ Is Ready 🔥#AduanaKingFaisal#AduanaOgya#AFC #TheFireBoys🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/KxlsFelekS
— Aduana Football Club (@Aduana_fc) November 7, 2021
Not all visitors to Dormaa, though, would give the same testimony — especially those who have had to travel to face Aduana FC (formerly Aduana Stars), the football club that embodies the pride and ambitions of Dormaa, for games at the Nana Agyemang Badu I (NAB I) Park.
Aduana have made quite the impression since first joining the Ghana Premier League for the 2009/10 campaign. In their very first season, they delivered a deafening statement of intent, even breaking world records in becoming the first newly-promoted team to conquer the domestic top-flight on the maiden attempt.
That feat, truly remarkable and hardly forgettable, was built mostly on home strengths, with Aduana going unbeaten at their NAB I fortress where they won 13 of 15 games and conceded a total of zero goals. Even the country’s best teams didn’t particularly relish a visit to Dormaa, knowing they were most likely to return empty-handed, if not vanquished.
A dozen or so years later, Dormaa clings to its status as a dreaded destination, but it’s now feared for all the wrong reasons. Aduana have won the league again in that period (2017), and the club occupy the summit of the table this term with just nine games to go, but the NAB I has lost some of its aura after some chastening defeats in recent seasons. We all knew it wasn’t going to stay impregnable forever, true, but some in the club’s ranks have found that inevitable realisation too bitter a pill to swallow.
Perhaps in a bid to reinforce that steadily diminishing fear factor and gain undue advantage, fans — with club officials only too willing to watch, only as blameless as Saul at Stephen’s stoning — have resorted to unleashing terror on visiting sides. Stories of such happenings are well-documented, despite hardly any of it being caught on camera (due to the fact that Aduana have, reportedly, a strong aversion to having their games broadcast on TV for reasons best-known to them).
Last week, after being dragged long past what normally represents the full-time mark — more on that phenomenon later — before the shock win they were running away with was reduced to a frustrating draw by a last-gasp Aduana leveller, Real Tamale United (RTU) complained of physical harassment and distressing experiences suffered by their travelling contingent.
𝗖𝗟𝗨𝗕 𝗡𝗢𝗧𝗜𝗖𝗘 | 📰
Management has today petitioned the FA over the performance of referee George M. Vormawor and unfair treatments it received from the home team (Aduana). #𝗣𝗿𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗼𝗳𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗻𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗵 | #𝗪𝗮𝘆𝗨𝗻𝗮 pic.twitter.com/FiwNztAueD
— REAL TAMALE UNITED (@RTUfcOfficial) March 27, 2023
Seven days later, similar treatment was meted out to RTU’s local neighbours, Tamale City.
For starters, the first-time Premier League campaigners were deprived of the support of any of their fans at Aduana’s ground, courtesy of a bizarre move by their hosts to purchase every single ticket on sale as an “Easter package” come early for their own support base — a decision only communicated shortly before kickoff.
Yet even having behind them the most partisan crowd you’d see anywhere in the Premier League all-season didn’t help Aduana get the job done in 90 minutes. It took a truly generous, wholly inexplicable amount of stoppage time to see the home team over the line — and not for the first time this season — and stay clear atop the log, courtesy an Isaac Mintah penalty that left City aggrieved.
But despite feeling rightly wronged by the defeat and broken by the very manner of it, the worst was still to come for City. On their way out of Dormaa, with the team brooding over a defeat that was really undeserved, the solemn mood in the bus — as well as the bus’ glasswork — got shattered by stones pelted by some irate home fans, causing serious bodily harm to some personnel on board.
Tamale City FC player Issac Mensah hit with a stone in Dormaa after their 1-0 loss to Aduana FC. This is bad. Several others have suffered bruises but they are safe.#SportsUltras pic.twitter.com/tX4ln23hw4
— Kelvin Owusu Ansah (@KelOwusu) April 2, 2023
Instances of intimidation, aggression, and outright violence like these aren’t exactly rare across the Premier League, as is the supposedly natural inclination of referees to favour home teams. In Dormaa, however, they tend to really push the envelope, consistently breaking the rules with seeming impunity, deliberately testing the very limits of what is acceptable and almost always getting away with it.
Following the latest incidents, it was hoped that the Ghana Football Association (GFA) would finally see the need to crack the whip — and now they have, suspending Aduana from hosting games at the NAB I indefinitely, with the prospect of possibly stiffer punishment to come. It sends the right message, albeit overdue, about the GFA’s commitment to safety at match venues.
And you can be sure that Aduana, however harsh the sanctions imposed on them may eventually prove, won’t have too many sympathisers.
Enn Y. Frimpong — Ink & Kicks