'I begged Mum for a Beckham mohican!'

Monday 20 May 2024 11:00

Even though I grew up in north London, my love for the Reds has been with me since the age of about four, when my dad bought me the 99/00 season away kit

I remember wearing it whenever I got the chance: I’d come straight back from school, run upstairs to put it on, and ask my mum to take me to the park so I could practise in it.
I guess the person I really have to thank for why I'm a Manchester United fan is my grandad, Victor. He has been a supporter since the Busby Babes, at which time he was a teenager in a small fishing village just outside Accra called Apam. Obviously my grandad passed this passion down to my dad, who in turn passed it down to me.

The only person on my dad’s side of the family who isn’t a Man United fan is my uncle Alex, who’s a staunch Arsenal supporter.

Of course, I’m having none of it.
Ben (left) and Kawala came to prominence in 2018 with the song Do It Like You Do.
Watching and talking about Manchester United has always been a way to bring my family together. Despite not seeing each other very often, as we all live in different parts of the world now, when we do speak or get together football is a central topic!

My aunt Barbara was just as big a United supporter as I am, and was lucky enough to see some of my favourite players, like David Beckham, represent England in the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup. I’ll never forget the stories she told, and listening to them inspired my love of both football and travel. 
When I say that Beckham was one of my favourite players, I mean it. When I was four or five years old, I begged my mum to give me a mohican just like him. With my curly Afro hair, my mum couldn’t quite replicate what he had, but she did her best. It only lasted about two days before I realised I didn’t look like Beckham, and shaved it all off!
Growing up, I have so many good memories of the Fergie days. One of the most visceral is the day we signed Wayne Rooney. My family and I had just landed in London after a holiday, and my stepdad Safari was reading the papers, catching up on whatever he had missed while away. He turned to me and said: “Ben, it’s happened – United have signed Rooney.” I was ecstatic and took off running up and down the airport terminal shouting my head off.
It was definitely a lot easier (and less stressful) being a fan back then, but the last 10 years have given me a different perspective. It's been exciting to see the team develop recently, and the new talent coming in, like Mainoo and Garnacho, are absolutely smashing it.

I truly believe if the club, fans, and new stakeholders back Ten Hag, we can bring in some top players who will help the team reach its potential. I was very lucky when I was younger to be able to watch us win Premier League titles and European Cups, and although it’s been a while since that last happened, now is the time for growth.
It comes with the territory of being a United fan that you’ll get a lot of stick from mates who aren’t. Each of the boys in Kawala are fans of different teams; we’ve got supporters of West Ham, Chelsea, and Arsenal, which definitely keeps things interesting. I say I get stick, but it’s probably our bassist, Reeve, who gets the most for supporting Chelsea if I’m honest!

Even the members of the band who aren’t big followers of football like to remind our good friend and guitar tech, who supports Spurs, that north London is red. So as you can imagine, it can get pretty lively in the tour van.
All The Goals: David Beckham Video

All The Goals: David Beckham

All The Goals | Becks scored 85 goals during his legendary United career: you can watch them all here...

As a band, Manchester is one of our favourite places to play in. There are always a couple of things that we like to do in the city (if we have time!) before we perform. For me, getting to see Old Trafford, even if it is only out of the car window, is a must, as is exploring the Northern Quarter.

As well as drumming in Kawala I’m a DJ, so I love being able to discover new music and nightlife venues. Quite often when on tour, we don’t arrive in a city until late afternoon, so we only get time to explore after dark. Luckily, Manchester has such an amazing energy to it at all times, so I’m more than happy to head somewhere like Big Hands or YES after a show to let off some steam.

Check out KAWALA’s latest single, Time Slipping Away, available now through all digital streaming platforms.