1 March 2008

Kenya: Down Memory Lane - Woodley, the Nairobi Mayor Who Loved Sports


Sir Frederick George Richard Woodley is best remembered as a Nairobi mayor for his passion for sports and for the part he played to promote football in particular.

He rarely missed a football match at the African Stadium, later renamed City Stadium, or at the Nairobi Railways Club where several popular British stars such as Sir Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney played when they visited the country. He served as Nairobi mayor from the mid-1940s to 1950.

Woodley was at one time president of the Football Association of Kenya (FA) while former Kenya Cricket Association chairman Bashir Mauladad was vice president. It also had two indigenous committee members: John Kasyoka and Senior Chief Musa Nyandusi, former minister Simeon Nyachae's father.

Woodley's interest in football influenced the development of Kibera football ground which was later named after him. Woodley's love for sports was not confined to soccer alone as a tennis court was also developed within the precincts of Kibera Olympic Social Hall.

It is the only community centre in Nairobi with such a facility, tennis being a rich man's game.

Old timers may recall that Woodley used to have a shoe shop near where Nation Centre now stands.

A close friend of Woodley's recalls that he spent more time out of his shop than inside. He would sneak out and quietly go to the stadium to enjoy a game of soccer in the afternoon.

Those days, anyone who wanted to watch a football match could only do so at the stadium as soccer on television was rare.

Stadiums used to be filled to capacity as there were fewer means of entertainment than today.

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