Roy’s Books: Kick Off

Buy Kick Off now and save 33% off the retail price!

Pre-orders of Kick-Off are now on sale. The book will retail at Kshs 1500/- but all advance orders earn a discount of 33%. These customers pay Kshs 1000/-. When delivered, all pre-ordered copies will be autographed. The book will be launched in June to coincide with the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.

How to Pre-Order
  1. Using your Safaricom Line go to M-Pesa
  2. Choose Lipa na M-PESA
  3. Then Choose Buy Goods and Services
  4. Enter 698465 as the till number
  5. Enter 1000 as the amount
  6. Enter your M-Pesa pin and send

You shall receive a confirmation message from Sun Ellen Ltd. Please retain the message till you collect your book.
This great offer lasts until the book launch. Order Now!

About Kick Off

Football is Kenya’s national pastime. This book is the story of the game. It represents the most comprehensive account of the best and worst moments of the game including never before told personal stories of the country’s greatest stars and coaches. Readers will be enthralled to follow the accounts of legendary players such as Ali Kadjo, Elijah Lidonde, Daniel Nicodemus, James Siang’a, Chege Ouma, Joe Masiga, Mahmoud Abbas and coaches like Marshall Mulwa and Bernhard Zgoll. The book is a tour de force of the game whose scope stretches from the 1920s to the present. Kick-Off is one of a kind, the signature work of a living legend in sports journalism. It will open a floodgate of memories. No sports enthusiast with a liking for history should miss it.

Book Excerpts

This is one of my observations about the Kenyan game in 2017:

In Kenya, Swahili is the language with which a good football match is consumed by the people. One of the most fascinating sights in my career was watching fans going to the stadium carrying a radio to listen to the Swahili commentary of the very game they were watching. It was a double helping of sight and sound. For some fans, the commentators were an integral part of the game, just like the players, the referee and the coaches.

The great radio commentators gave us unalloyed joy and high blood pressure at the same time while leaving behind expressions that last a lifetime. But citizens of all callings and ages have also found a way of playing with the Swahili language when describing simple moves in a backyard kick about or expressing awe at the exploits of the nation’s stars. Both fans and commentators have long developed a unique discourse for the game which is often lost in translation. And they have successfully elevated hyperbole into an art.

In early geography lessons, the teacher told us that the Equator is an imaginary line that divides the world into two equal halves.

But the Equator was something else altogether in the football field at break time. Any boy who had the misfortune of having the ball passed between his legs as he tried to stop an opponent suffered humiliating taunts that lasted days: “Alikatwa Equator!” To the energetic children growing up in the Eastlands suburbs of Nairobi, “kukata mtu Equator” meant dividing your opponent into two equal halves with a football. It was a mark of great distinction and the hero wore his accolades on his sleeves. Whoever could do that to people again and again was a respected “man.”

Kenya’s winning Gossage Cup team of 1959: Back row standing left to right – Tom Wanjala, Enock Wiraga, Gabriel Musonye (goalkeeper), Elijah Lidonde and Jackson Munialo. Centre row (kneeling) – Paul Owiti, Ambrose Nyapenda, Joseph Kadenge and Joseph Wasike. Front row, left to right – Alfred Mukaisi and Peter Oronge (captain).

This photo shows the Maragoli Football Club team with William Yeda, future secretary general of CECAFA squatting on the left. They were runners up in the 1959 FA Cup.

The emblem of the FA of Kenya at Independence in 1963.

This passage, quoted from the East African Standard of June 2, 1928, describes a match between two sides:
Caledonians – 2   YMCA – 0

“On Empire Day the Caledonians entertained the YMCA and a very poor exhibition of the Association code resulted. Mis-kicking was the order of the day and when kicks were affected no one seemed to know where the ball was going to. Passes were very loose and the ball was too much in the air to be of any great assistance to those who suffer from lack of inches. The Callies won the toss and faced VI Avenue and were offside in the first minute. Then the Young Christians were off and with both backs missing the call, Rosenstone had a great opportunity but presented the sphere to the goalkeeper who walked about half a dozen steps with it in his arms. The YMCA again pressed and hands in the penalty area saw Rosenstone balloon the ball — another gift goal missed. The same player was soon on the run and sent in a hot shot which the goal-keeper had to put over the bar.”

Acclaim for KICK-OFF

Kick-Off  has a wealth of information that is beautifully packaged. Sports journalists in Kenya should be inspired to embark on similar projects. Our country needs it for the benefit of future generations.

  • Avtar Singh, Kenya hockey legend and veteran of the 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympics.


Kick-Off is an inspiring story about the history of football in Kenya. Told in an easy-to-read style, it elucidates the drama and emotion associated with the pitch in a manner that links the past with the present. Roy is an extremely powerful storyteller. This is an indispensable resource on sports in Kenya.

  • Kimani Njogu, Twaweza Communications


I don’t read football stories but I never miss any written by Roy Gachuhi. I buy the ‘Saturday Nation’ for this purpose. The historical context and engaging writing stands out from anything else. You don’t have to be a football fan to enjoy his stories. I am happy that this has all come together in a book that I can treasure for life.

  • Rebecca Alila, Nation newspaper reader


With a folksy telling style that masks his power of acute observation, panoramic memory and wit, Roy has dug up nuggets of football history which he deploys with dazzling results. He has shown how popular histories might be used to read broader narratives – be they of individuals or nations–but above all he enables readers to appreciate the critical place of football folklore in Kenyan popular culture.

  • Dr Mbugua wa Mungai, Senior Lecturer in Literature, Kenyatta University

Roy Gachuhi is a walking encyclopedia of sports in this land. His Saturday Nation column is proof of that. As his editor, I have many a time found myself savouring his copy along with my editorial duties. He is that rare breed of journalist and a wordsmith par excellence. In this book Roy Gachuhi is in his element. Sports enthusiasts will find it a gem.

  • Allan Buluku, Former Sports Editor, Daily Nation


I have enjoyed reading Roy Gachuhi’s articles ever since I started playing for the Kenya national team in the 1970s. His knowledge of football history amazes me. History teaches us where we have come from and nobody writes it better than him. I wish we had more sports writers like him.

  • Mahmoud Abbas, former Harambee Stars goalkeeper and captain


My generation of footballers is indebted to Roy Gachuhi for his devotion in telling the stories of the forgotten. This book is a monument to everybody who has ever played for the Kenya national team, living or departed. The brilliance of the reporter who covered us, and whose reports we never missed, shines through it.

  • Allan Thigo, former Harambee Stars midfielder and captain
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