On 8th August 2005, Police FC broke the dominance of SC Villa, KCCA, and Express FC which had lasted over 25 years to win the Premier League after defeating SC Villa 3-1 via penalties following a barren draw. Over time, some of the achievements seem less impressive – but something bigger remains.
For years, Police FC’s 2005 title win had two big claims to fame. One was the underdog narrative, and the other was the nail-biting finale.
The 2010s dismantled that a little. Maybe Proline FC’s promotion to UPL and claiming the Uganda Cup was more heartwarming but history was made and the impact it brought to Uganda football still remains.
The style of football was not exactly special, but Police FC was simply doing it in an extremely cohesive manner, ‘predictable’ was a regular criticism of a 4-4-2 system that relied on top forwards, Geoffrey Massa and Martin Muwanga. Of Police’s 19 league goals, 15 came from the ‘Mu-Ma’.
From 1981 to 2004, winning the Uganda Premier League title was a VEK affair until Police happened. A team which had existed for over 56 years without a title, happened to change the fate of the UPL title and its only URA FC and Vipers SC that have gotten a share of the most coveted prize in Uganda football since then.
There’s something quite fitting about the nature of that title win. The fact that the club was financially unstable, yet it’s an institutional club; that they nearly threw it away; that their continental campaign was a disaster; that the team broke up so quickly; that they never challenged again.
All of that might make it less special to the neutral football fan. But through that, it becomes something else – it becomes just for a government institution. In a long story of decline, in the country and in the team, this was an anomaly. The fact it wasn’t particularly special to anyone else made it even more special to the future of Uganda football. It was about identity.
Winning doesn’t have to be perfect to be special. It doesn’t need to come without caveats. It doesn’t even need to last.
Is Police FC’s title win a fairy tale? No, because it actually happened.