The formation of Real Tamale United (RTU) and its institution as one of the biggest clubs in the country eased up the thirst for Premier League football in the north. It was good going for them in most seasons.
In their maiden season in 1978, they finished 3rd on the league log 4 points behind eventual winners Hearts of Oak.
But the rise meant more responsibility on their shoulders and a lot of it lied in the financial power they had then to withstand the pressures of keeping afloat.
StarBoy who left to play for Hearts of Oak in the late 70s says player exodus, a cultural reboot and a lack of financial muscle to re-exert themselves on the market cost them. Karim Mahama Shani who played for RTU in the late 70s explains the systemic breakdown of the club’s structure.
“As time went on, Northern region school football was dying, the sports festival was not there so the talent was left with only the juvenile clubs. The juvenile clubs have been able to hold the mantle until now. It is there that the Northern region football started going down. When we started talking about professional football in the country and when other regions were also being formed. Real Tamale United was being supported by all the regions in the North. So all the educated and the business men were supporting RTU. But as time went on, people decided to support Kotoko, Hearts and other teams and the financial support of the club was waning. The commitment was no more there.”
RTU is a people’s club through and through. Tamale’s pride. On basic training days at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium, fans throng there just to watch their club train. Dark days befell the club in 2013 when they were relegated and have never made it to the country’s elite football league. But there’s a ray of sunshine though.
RTU’s decision to bring in Shaibu Ibrahim Tanko has been timely. Tanko comes in as one of the clubs who really know the Ghanaian terrain and what to do to make players thrive. It is however important that the top hierarchy at the club settled on him as the man for the job. His thumbprints can be seen on the team. RTU are now in the top three positions of the Zone One Division one league. Tanko spoke highly of the job and how important reaching the premier league is the prime target.
“The feeling is good in the sense that I am back home to continue from where others have stopped and to make sure that RTU is put at it’s proper place. It will be a daunting task but, everybody here is highly desirous to make an impact in the sense that we have set ourselves an objective and that is what we are trying to meet. We want to qualify to the Premiership and for that matter the players are giving off their best. You need to be here on Saturdays to see the patronage at the stadium. It is always very high”. RTU coach, Shaibu Ibrahim Tanko.
The Players are in high spirits too. For them, to play for RTU is a huge honour. Midfielder, Baba Kushibo and defender, Ibrahim Shakur are products of a well thought out scouting process and are hopeful they can make it soon.