The Story of the 1949 Nigerian Football Team’s UK Tour

Photo taken by author at the National Football Museum, Preston, UK. © Olaojo Aiyegbayo

The Elder Dempster ship, MV Apapa, arrived at the Liverpool docks at 8.30am on Monday, August 29, 1949. On board were eighteen Nigerian football players, Captain Donald.H.Holley {Chairman of the Nigerian Football Association} and his wife. The players were in the United Kingdom to play nine goodwill matches against English amateur clubs. The purpose of this tour was to test the strength of Nigerian talent against good quality opposition.

Thirteen of the eighteen players were from the Lagos and District League, two from the Western Provinces, two from the Eastern Provinces and one from the Northern Provinces. The players were selected not just for their football skills but also because they were deemed the best candidates to represent the colonial Nigerian Football Association in the Home Nation.

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