from X-Ray Magazine, June 1986)
July 26, 2008
called soccer in the USA, is believed to have originated
from Britain, from where it spread to the rest of Western
Europe and the world. Today the attachment to the love for
the game has become a universal disease without cure. It
drives despondent fans to suicide, inspire joy, where
there is sadness and trigger mindless jingoism.
1984, reports came of soccer casualties from a burning
stadium in Britain and a crumbling stadium in Belgium,
killing scores of spectators.
fans are generally well behaved. They have long had a
well-deserved reputation for being one of the most
disciplined in Africa. Such a rare compliment is perhaps
because Liberia is a "Peace Loving Country."
home matches Liberians do not throw bottles and stones at
players and police personnel, nor walk across the pitch or
engage in other forms of rioting. The fans normally admire
and cheer teams that exhibit the spirit of good
sportsmanship and satisfactorily give them their money's
worth. The only expectation, perhaps, was the
1980,encounter in Freetown, Sierra Leone, when the
Liberian teams and fans were jeered at and stoned.
and IE undoubtedly have the largest fans today among
football clubs in Liberia. Perhaps the reason lies in
their being old and well established teams. Moreover,
there is the psychological effect on the other teams with
the idea that no matter how they try, they cannot make it
with IE and Barrolle.
manner in which the teams were formed has a lot to do with
the type of fans and supporters they have. Bame was
started by the Kru people and so it draws most of the fans
from the Kru ethnic group. Students of CWA who were mostly
"Congo" started I. E Majesties and so up to this
day it is regarded as a "Civilized" or Congo
team. Its archival, Barrolle was started mainly by
residents of Grand Bassa County, and so it is regarded as
a Bassa or " Country" people team.
the trend seems to have changed dramatically. For all the
teams now have broad-based fans from a cross-section of
the country and the citizenry. Bame is no longer a
preserve of the Kru, nor I.E. only for Congo people or
Barrolle for Bassa people. All the football clubs draw up
their fans from all the countries and ethnic groups.
N. A Brown recalls an incident, which manifests the
glaring ethnicity attached to football by the fans in the
late 1940s, during a match between I.E and Bame. As he was
a Kru the and a player of his family advised him not to
play against Bame, except for one of his sisters. It was a
tough decision to make, and at last he decided to play
against Bame even though Bame fans threatened him that his
legs would be chopped off if he played. Another Kru
player, Tugbeh Anderson gave in, and played for Bame
instead of I.E. His team, as a result of this match, which
was among the earliest played by I.E, Prince N.A Browne
never, had his legs chopped off, and Tugbeh Anderson was
still given blame not for playing for I.E, but for not
playing his best on the side of Bame.
Barrolle-I.E syndrome that now seems to be dying out among
Liberian fans is the belief in witchcraft.
"Rain" symbolizes victory for Barrolle and
"Sunshine" for I.E. But experience has shown
that this assertion is not always true. However, both
teams have maintained specific colors of jerseys. Red for
Barrolle and Yellow for I.E. This has resulted into giving
IE the name "YELLOW BOYS" and "DARLING
CLUB," while Barrolle carries the name
"ROLLERS" AND "READ BOYS." There is
also the element of who owns the land and who has the
" deed" that erupted soon after April 12,1980.
these are some of the factors that contribute to Barrolle
-IE rivalry when they meet to prove their supremacy and
progress in soccer. Certainly whenever there is an
encounter between the two teams, the field is jam- packed
and nightclubs to engage in a drinking spree.
other teams like St. Joseph Warriors and, of late, Fulani,
have registered quite a large following. Perhaps the
capturing of the national league trophy consistently by
teams other than Barrolle and IE may one day change the
pattern of hungry fans in Liberia.