1904 was an important year in the history of Abeokuta. A number of never-to-be-forgotten events took place that year. Among others, it would be difficult to know exactly which event coincided with the establishment of Abeokuta Sports Club in 1904. But one thing is clear, the founders of the club, who were mainly expatriates would never play with their leisure because they believed in the saying that one should work hard and play well.
We know from history that in 1904, the Osile Oke-Ona, Oba David Sokunbi Karunwi II was crowned on Monday, 4th April, by Bishop Oluwole. It is also on record that the first Alake to visit Egbaland was Oba Gbadebo I. Official gazette says it was in 1094 that the Egba United Government started issuing its gazette and also established it Police and prisons headed by Europeans. Finally, 1904 also was a year of the inauguration of the native court and mixed court for hearing cases, involving non-negative of Abeokuta.
That Abeokuta Sports Club was founded in 1904 was not in doubt because research in the archives shows that the Governor of the Gold Coast (now Ghana) visited the club. It started as a meeting point for relaxation of members of the West African Command Headquarters.
The place was also used for interaction among the elite in the town.
After a Golf Course was established that was later followed by cricket pitch, tennis court and billiards room on the clubs premises the club was ready to give all-round relaxation to members. Some of the game facilities are still in place today.
The sporting activities of the club were developed to a high standard, which enabled the club to win many trophies in and outside the country.
The club is reputed to be the oldest on the West Coast of Africa. Documents available show that the land on which it stands was leased to the club on the 23rd March 1932. There are also sporting records dating back to 1929.
The club had been actively involved in golf, shooting, cricket, footballing, motor car racing, tennis, billiards and snooker in the early ’30s. There is proof to show competitions between the club and some old and defunct clubs in the country. Among them were annual cricket club, Dyaks Lagos, African Cricket Club, Kings’ College Lagos, Saint Gregory’s College and Ibadan Recreation Club.
In the evening, there was full-length films shows, films were taken loan from the Nigerian Motion Pictures Ltd, The American Motion Pictures Ltd, The British Council and the United States Information Service. The club had its cinematography projector and screen.
There were formal monthly guest nights to which guests of members were invited, a full band in attendance and dress code was formal.
An arrangement was also made with some clubs whose members could enjoy the facilities of the club when they were in town and whose facilities members could use when they travelled out.
Examples were: Ibadan Recreation Club, Ibadan Tennis Club, Apapa Club, and the Army Mess. Modalities which were renewable annually were worked out.
Token fees were usually paid. Now Abeokuta Sports Club has exchange arrangements with 15 Clubs. They include Ikoyi Club, Lagos Island Club, Benin Club, Lagos Country Club, Ikeja Club, Ijebu Club, Kaduna Club, Kano Club, Abeokuta Golf Club, Makurdi Club and Onitsha Sports Club.
The early ’60s saw a more active role being played by Nigerians in the administration of the club. While many Nigerians held offices in the past, the first Nigerian President of the club was the late Dr A. Okuboyejo followed by Dr A Asuni, Chief Bayo Sosan, Chief Tunji Fadairo, Engineer V.O.A. Ajayi, Engineer Kunle Marinho, Dr Akin Majekodunmi, Hon. Justice Olufemi Odunlani, the late Chief Olukemi Akinsola, Chief Alfred Popoola, the late Chief Adebisi Macgregor, Chief Abayomi Ademefun, Justice Demola Bakare, Alakoso Adebayo Adeyemi, Oba Samusideen Ayorinde, Alhaji Ganiyu Egbeyemi, the late Chief Soniran Sowemimo JP, Chief Ogo-Oluwa Bankole, Chief Oladipupo Odulate OFR, Professor Olasunbo Martins, the late Chief Olanrewaju Sobayo, Mr. Kunle Okikiola, Otunba Lekan Lukan, Alh. Chief Olaniyi Adegbenro, Engr. Taiwo Fatoki, Lion Tunde Aregbesola, Engr. Mitiu Adebowale, Mr Akin Ajayi and the current President, Deacon Atilade Bolarinwa.
The club also has many European Presidents who had contributed a lot to the development of the club among them were Mr Bill Burrows, Captain B.W. Macpherson, Mr D.W. Mac-Farlene, Mr E.W. Chubs, Mr Fredick Bradford Adams, Captain Ceil Burleigh Wolf and Captain Henry Mason. Apart from the role played by the founding fathers, others, who also made their marks in the development of the club were: Major W. Davidson, Lt. D.G. Stewart Smith, Mr D.D. Anderson, Mr H. Sportiswiode, Mr G.O. Farewell, Mr J. Dunston, Dr A. J. Murray, Mr E. Callwo, Rev. I. N. Patterson, Rev. M. Carew. Also on the list are; Dr B.B. Wren, Major J. Loutan (KOSB), Mr D Seargent and Mr O.A. Mc Dermott.
It is also very important to list the Vice Patrons of the Club. According to the constitutions of the club, some of the Vice Patrons were past President of the club and very few came from outside the club.
On the list are Chief Tunji Fadairo, Engineer Kunle Marinho, Dr Akin Majekodunmi, Chief Alfred Popoola, Chief Mrs Adebisi Edionsere, Chief Adebayo Adeyemi, Oba Samsideen Ayorinde, Alhaji Ganiyu Egbeyemi, Chief Soniran Sowemimo, Chief Abayomi Ademefun, Bashorun A. A. Adesanya, Oba Abiodun Oniru, Hon. Justice Gabsiu Ademola Bakre, Bashorun Tunde Elegbede, Chief Nelson Olayiwola Oyesiku, Chief Oladipo Odulate OFR, Chief Yemi Sowunmi, Chief Ogo-Oluwa Bankole, Chief Duro Aikulola, Chief Mathew Olukunle Koleoso, Chief Emmanuel Babatunde Hassan, Mr Akinola Olakunle Okikiola, Chief Niyi Adegbenro, Hon. Kunle Adesina, Hon. Justice Bode Popoola, Aare Remi Bakare and Chief Deji Soyebi.
It also includes Chief Sunny Sonde, Otunba Lekan Lukan, Chief Olu Odeyemi, HRM. Oba Alh. Kabiru K. Agbabiaka, Chief Sikiru O. Atobatele, Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu, Asiwaju Maxwell .O. Ayinla, Chief Samuel O. Oso, Alh. Chief Lai Labode, Chief Olayinka Kufile, Chief Buhari Oloto, Chief Seye Soluade, Mr Babatunde Oretade, Chief Adio Baiyewu, Dr Oluwole Adegboyega, Lion Tunde Aregbesola, Arc. Tokunbo Fowode, and Dr Ismail Akindele.
The immediate past Executive Committee members of the club are Mr Akin Ajayi, Mr Kola Rahmon Salako, TPL Gbolade Badejo, Alhaji Taofeek Adebari, Mr Abiodun Lasile, Arc. Abiodun Ayodele, Chief Soji Ogunjobi, Alhaji Saka Ajao, Mr Oba Odukoya, Mr Olusola Oloyede, Alhaji S.K. Taiwo and Mr Kehinde Ijaola.
The newly elected Executive Committee members who were appointed on Friday, August 30, 2019, under the supervision of the Grand Patron of the club, His Excellency Prince (Dr.) Dapo Abiodun MFR, the Executive Governor of Ogun State and the Life Patron of the club, His Royal Majesty Oba (Dr.) Aremu Gbadebo CFR, Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland are Deacon Atilade Bolarinwa, Dr Dayo Akibo, Mr Tola Odusote, Mr Lukman Akindele, Hon. Adijat Adeleye-Oladapo, Con. Ayo Adelugba, Mr Yemi Oyebefun, Mr Olusola Egbesola, Augustine G. Sogunle, Alhaji Taofeek Adebari, Mr Rotimi Olashore and Barr. Olaoluwa Kuforiji.
Below are the Registered Trustees of the club; Oba Abiodun Idowu Oniru, Justice Dehinde Shoremi, Deacon Tunde Otunuga, Dr Olubunmi Sanyaolu and Prof. Sumbo Martins. Other members of the club are Alhaji Ganiyu Egbeyemi, Engr. Tunde Bakare, Chief Duro Aikulola, Chief (Hon.) Dipo Akingbade, Dr. Tunde Olowonyo, Professor Akinlabi Akin, Barrister Biobaku Tunji, Chief Dokun Ajomale, Mr. Funso Idowu, Chief Olasheu Adebayo, Chief Sina Luwoye, Deacon Tunde Otunuga, Mr. A.A. Sijuade, Dr. A. Ibikunle, Mr. Dimeji Ogini, Mr. Ademola Bakare, Dr. D. Adeniji, Mr. Fola Onabanjo, Mr. E.O. Otunuga and Chief R.A. Adeyemi. Others are Prince Dotun Jeboda, Mr Remi Adesoye, Mr Sumbo Bilewu, Mr Eniola Opere, Chief Bayo Sofolahan, Mr J.K. Ogunyinka, Alh. R. A. Okunade, Engr. Ademola Bakare, Mr A.O. Oyeniran, Mr Jide Oyenuga, Mr J.O. Adeleye, Mr Dele Soyemi, Alh. Dele Balogun, Mr. Ayodele Olaseni, Mr. Layiwola Sojobi, Alh (Chief) Tunji Kalejaiye, Mr. Kola Ayanlowo, Mr. Kola Salako, Chief Soji Ogunjobi, Dr. Oludayo Akibo, Mr. Chris Soetan, Comrade Ayo Adelugba, Mr. Abiodun Lasile, TPL Gbolade Badejo, Rotimi Rufus Adeloye, Chief Kehinde Oladeinde, Mr. Segun Okeselu, Mr. Olalekan Lawal and Mr. Ayo Olaseni. From inception, the club has served and still serving as a stress-relief place for young executives, the retired and the old.
– Toyin Ogundiya