History is in the making as Vandrezzer FC will on Saturday March 27, 2021, feature in our first ever Lagos Derby, as the Lions confront the famed Stores FC (formerly called Stationery Stores) at the Soccer Temple, Agege.
Decades back, the Lagos derbies ranked among the top derbies in Nigeria, showcasing some of the best players in the country, and very vociferous fans. While some fans argue that the biggest Lagos Derby was ACB vs Stationary Stories, ex-international defender Waidi Akanni who featured for NEPA of Lagos, thinks otherwise:
"I played in so many derbies - vs Stationary Stores, vs National Bank, vs ACB; but NEPA vs Stores was the talk of town. The hype starts a week before the game. The support base for both teams was second to none. The games are hyped on radio etc. One game you can’t loose is against Stores of Lagos."
"NEPA FC then was a popular team in Lagos. To play for NEPA FC was like playing for the national team. You never want to loose any local derby. The support base was too intimidating and real . You get the feel a week before any derby game. Starts from practice week and on that day, you must deliver." - added Akanni, who later moved Flash Flamingos of Benin after his NEPA FC career.
Former Nigerian goalkeeper and coach, Ike Shorunmu, starred for Stationary Stores in the early 90's and told VFC media that derby days in Lagos were indescribable:
"the fans were the key factor during derbies with their shouting and massive support. I remember Stores vs Julius Berger in the FA Cup final in 1990, it was like a tug of war! But I thank God at the end of the day, Stores won by one nil."
Another former intertional Abiodun Obafemi who played for the Flaming Flamingoes (as Stores were nicknamed) and also featured for Eagle Oil FC, Agip Oil FC, Nepa and First Bank, all of Lagos, said:
"The Derby of all derbies back then was Stores vs Nepa FC 100%. I had the rare privilege of playing for and against Stationary Stores in Lagos and I must say in both ways it's always a big war. Any official match against Stores in Lagos most especially a derby can't be an ordinary match, expect nothing but thriller."
Obafemi was part of the Stores team that won the league title for the very first time in 1992/93 season said his time at Stores was the most memorable of his playing career in Lagos:
"the Stores fans were not only loud but will leave whatever they are doing behind and come out en mass to support their darling team, the Flaming Flamingoes."
"Playing for Stationary Stores was an accident, but thank God I did, because I tasted something close to what I experienced in Europe. While at Stores, we won the league for the very first time, I had my first national team invitation as well, I can go on and on. It was a beautiful football experience I will never forget."
From all indications VFC's next opponents - Stores FC founded in 1958 by Israel Adebajo, were the darling team of Lagos in the past. But the Adebajo Babes aren't the same of old. Currently placed rock bottom of the Group B1 table, their fans have been left hanging and praying for a rejuvenation.
Can the Lions of Naija be the new force of Lagos?
"I think Vandrezzer FC coming to Lagos is good for Lagos football in general. It will bring out the best in the players . National teams scouts always recognize players at top clubs in Lagos. Also exposure to international scene is guaranteed by having a base in Lagos. Lastly , players development is also good in Lagos because of the competition." - says Akanni, a one-time Lagos State FA Chairman.
For Obafemi who currently coaches Lagos-based NLO side Destiny Boys FC:
"Vandrezzer FC is an ambitious super team
with tested youngsters, some of whom I know very well as battlers and supremely gifted. All they need to do is be ready to fight till final whistle everytime."
From all indications and experiences, it looks increasingly obvious that if there was no Stationary Stores, there was no real Lagos Derby. And come Saturday March 27, Vandrezzer FC with no history of winning titles, nor playing in major finals and having one of the best player supplies to the national team, comes up against the Flamming Flamingoes in what promises to be one of the best matches on display in Week 9 of the NNL.
"The Stores of today and back then cannot be compared. These days they are struggling so Vandrezzer go in as favourites to win. But it's going to be a tough match and I can't really predict who'll carry the day. But I like what Vandrezzer is doing and I wish them the best ",Ike Shorunmu concludes
According to Akanni: "my prediction will be based on current form. I watched Vandrezzer FC defeat a team last week. I believe it will be a Vandrezzer FC win but a small margin. Stores have not been doing too well recently."
"This is a tough one,I'll rather abstain. Unfortunately there are no fans in this derby to make it more special, but it's still going to be a super entertaining match. Infact I'll tag this match ,the NNL MATCH OF THE WEEK." - Obafemi (also an educationist).
Will the Lions Of Naija devour the Flaming Flamingoes and keep up their unbeaten home run?
Find out on Saturday March 27, 2021, only on VFC TV, via the Vandrezzer FC mobile application.
Kick-off is 16:00 GMT + 1, but VFC TV studio opens 15:00 GMT + 1.
Don't miss it!
Vandrezzer FC...won't walk that road without you!