“I Am The Best Number 9 In This Country!”
“I am the best Number 9 in this country!” A wide grinned Muttley would always remark, whenever we met, a man who made myself and a great number of those who found him at the Nairobi School, fall in love with the sport of rugby.
Baring a string of unfortunate injuries, that statement would be true, at his prime David ‘Muttley’ Gitau was virtually unplayable, as a key part of the 03 Patch Machine and later on the all conquering Quins side between 2008 and 2010. He won almost every title on the land and was also capped for both the U19 and senior fifteens sides.
My first encounter with Muttley was at the famous corridor’s of Nairobi School’s Elgon House back in 2003, him alongside Kevin ‘Hawk’ Umbuge were casually sitting outside of their cubicle, ‘Al Qaeda,’ when a tiny Form one walked by, his shopping in hand. “Oya raboli, kuja hapa..” They called out in unison, it goes without saying that I made it to my box without half my shopping and my small frame filled with rage.
Little did I know that these two would become great friends and mentors in the not so long distant future. Their cubicle was right below the form 1 and 2 dorms which meant that we had to pass by their door every time you went to your dorm. Over that year, such ‘meet ups’ reduced, as we got a bit more cunning and generally as we became friends and as I became ‘Gaithuma’ (a nick name only they could explain).
Muttley became more of a big brother for us in team D (the last team made up of form ones) and even after he cleared school he still made time to come coach us as we progressed through the ranks. He’d follow us up every step of the way till we reached machine status and beyond, the likes of Ken Moseti, Peter Lugano, Daniel Mubea, Geroge Okowa and the whole of that dominant 06 Patch Machine owe it to this man Muttley.
His dedication and passion for this sport was second to none, he would sacrifice his Saturday, Sundays and countless weekday evenings to take us through drills, talk to us about life and how interesting club rugby was. When you missed a training session he would be out looking for you immediately after the session, seeing as he lived within the school compound there was no running away from him.
In an environment where juniors were only supposed to be seen and not heard, he was like a breath of fresh air, always ready to listen and to teach.
On the pitch in the famous navy blue, yellow and white hoops he lit up the main samba with some superb displays, he was a rugby genius. My fondest memory of the man on a rugby pitch was however not on a game day, but on a random touch rugby Sunday when he dummied his opposite number with the touch line and went on to score, we talk about it to this day, he was a magician with ball in hand, gifted with nifty feet and a decent set of wheels.
Muttley never shied away from defending what he believed in and would stand his ground no matter the odds, you can attest to this if you ever got into an argument with him regarding anything rugby especially Quins or Patch.
A true rugby gent who always wanted the best for the game, when he recently got into refereeing I remember asking him why, again with that wide grin, he took a sip of his beer and said, “Hawa watu since hawawezi ref wacha niwafundishe..” then followed it up with that laugh hehe.
Heaven RFC have just acquired a great servant and lover of the game, a brilliant nine and an all round great chap! Rest Well Muttley, watese huko juu pia.