- Paying the price. Because of the financial backing of former Fufa president Mulindwa, the critics believe that Vipers used wealth to bulldoze their way to the topflight title.
W hat a week it was for Vipers. A rank outsider coming first in the tensest of title races that memory serves up is something that won’t be repeated quite often. One therefore expects football to concentrate its efforts on lauding Vipers. Instead, Vipers is being treated to a much sterner examination.
Just this week, in a particularly bad-tempered cup semi-final, Villa fans stoned the Vipers bench. Regardless of what the provocation was, this hooliganism is something some Villa fans have wrestled from Express and are increasingly wearing as a badge of honour. But that and the history between these two - SC Villa was docked points after their fans vandalised St Mary’s Stadium in the first-round – was conveniently ignored when the story was told. And guess what the headlines were? ‘Da Costa hospitalised after tense cup semi-final draw’!
On this evidence alone, Vipers can expect to be rarely out of the newspapers for both achievements or perceived misdemeanors. It comes with the territory. It will not matter that on the way to winning the AUPL they obliterated everything set in their path by going on a 17-game winning streak, beating all the main contenders in their head-head games or only lost once at fortress St Mary’s Stadium, Kitende. They are marked men.
In a way it is flattering. It announces Vipers as a worthy competitor drawing everyone’s attention - and not all will be tickled by this. No one will dare mention it openly but the subconscious feeling amongst all the traditional football powers towards Vipers or any pretender to the throne for that matter, must to be, “how dare they challenge the status quo”?
Going forth, it will be almost convenient to remind all that Vipers lacked class in prematurely celebrating the championship or in allowing their manager to accuse Fufa of preferring KCCA in the run-in after it became apparent that the title race would go to the wire. Deservedly or not, such will be the treatment they get from the court of public opinion. And it shall be relentless and sometimes unjustified.
They will be called greedy for offering every under-aged Copa Coca Cola star a scholarship to Kitende. Then references will be made about how they owe everything not to their footballing prowess, but to the wealth and influence of club-owner and ex-Fufa president Lawrence Mulindwa as if they should be apologetic about it.
And when these criticisms are viewed together, a pattern will emerge: Vipers have bulldozed their way to the table of men and the thinly veiled attacks are a response – an attempt to remind them of their place.
The route to the top is narrow for a club without the history of either Express KCCA or SC Villa. Vipers is treading the path for a select few and the narrative reserved for those who make it, though, often sounds a lot like, you have been the hunter, but we shall now turn you into the hunted.