THE once feared and respected Super Division League giant killers, Mbale Heroes FC, has been relegated after nine years of top flight soccer that saw them lift the 1999 Kakungulu Cup title.
Fans have heaped the blame of Heroesâ€™ relegation on the club management headed by Masalu-Musene.
Heroes kicked off the second round of the Top Radio sponsored league with only one non executive official Richard Watuwa who came in as a Good Samaritan to steer the club.
Watuwa said interference from former disgruntled officials, poor recruitment of players, lack of financial support and frequent changing of coaches during the season were among the major factors that contributed to Heroesâ€™ exit.
Watuwa says he took charge of the team after elected officials who included vice chairmen Kaato Wambi and Stephen Namonyo played a low profile.
Club chairman Masalu -Musene, a Supreme Court registrar was too busy while the secretary Abdu Mutanje is an Electoral Commission official in Arua.
When contacted, Musene said he could not run the club on remote from Kampala and therefore he asked Watuwa and Rwandese born coach Ally Bizimungu to take charge.
Former long time club secretary Moses Oleico who was thrown out after Stephen Wekomba resigned as club chairman said that the current committee failed to live up to the expectation of the team that depended entirely on goodwill.
Another factor that hit the club was the local politics. Officials holding most top posts on the committee are from Manjiya County that apparently created apathy among supporters from other areas.
Musene, Wambi, Mutanje and Deo Matsanga, chairman fans club, are all from Manjiya.
Mbale FUFA delegate Tiff Mafuko says the team would have survived relegation if the officials had involved other people in the running of the club.
Former striker Frank Eotu points the finger at the composition of the executive committee and attempts by some supporters to politicise the club prompting some people to abandon ship.
Vice chairman Steven Namonyo however, accused former officials of sabotage saying those who used to benefit from the club have no kind words for them.
â€œWe tried our level best to do what we could with the resources available and nobody should blame the committee,â€ Namonyo said.
Other soccer lovers say Heroesâ€™ troubles started in the 2002 season when their boss and chief financier Wekomba resigned leaving the club with no sure source of financial support.
The troubles reached the climax early this year with the death of treasurer Taibu Magola and patron James Wapakhabulo who over the years rescued the team in hard times.
When Magola lived, the club was assured of a daily income from Mbale taxi parks whereby each taxi paid sh500 to Mbale United Transporters towards the club coffers.
Mbale mayor Richard Masaba who had for several years acted as the chief recruiting officer, quit the club amidst leadership wrangles at the beginning of the 2003/2004 season.
Heroes, a local crowd puller, regained their super league status at the 1994 National Super Mini-league after edging defunct Posta FC 2-0 at Mbale Municipal Stadium.
The team was however, relegated at the end of the 1995 after defunct Villa International produced evidence that Heroes had been fielding players who were also featuring in the Kenya premier league clubs.
Heroesâ€™ officials however, struck a deal with cash strapped Dairy FC and played in the 1996 season as Dairy Heroes with Frank â€˜Videoâ€™ Anyau as head coach. The team later regained its name the following season.
The club reached its peak moment when they lifted the 1999 Kakungulu Cup title after beating Kampala giants with Sam Ssimbwa as the coach.
The relegation of Heroes is not only a sad affair for soccer crazy Mbale but also the entire eastern region which next season will field only newly promoted Kakira.
Can Heroes make a comeback? The answer lies with the soccer lovers in Mbale to return to the drawing table by forgetting their differences and pooling their resources.
Heroes back to drawing board