SOME sensational stories have been written over the years about Ba football's success on the local scene.
The biggest of them all were the stories of their six-in-a-row triumph from 1975-80.
While there were many heroes on the field of play during that reign, one player's wife's courage and determination to ensure the Men in Black win remains one of the most heart-felt stories.
In 1979, the team travelled to Nausori to try and win the IDC for an unprecedented fifth year in a row.
Inia Bola was a key member of the side. As he made his way to Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori, his wife (Seruwaia) was pregnant with their third child.
Ba played Labasa on the opening day and notched a 1-0 win. Then they drew with Sigatoka.
The underdogs had Abraham Watkins, who would go on to become football's lone Fiji Sportman of the Year in 1988.
Then came the Johnny Bakaridi show against Lautoka. This game is still being talked about now. Bakaridi, a referee, played some seven minutes of extra-time and his excuse was that midway through the Ba-Lautoka game his watch had stopped so he was making up for it.
Ba scored in the final minute of added time through Bola to top the pool.
Had the game stayed scoreless, Ba, Lautoka and Sigatoka would have been tied on four points with Lautoka topping the pool and Ba and Sigatoka tied up on goal difference.
With the controversial goal, Ba won the pool and Sigatoka came second.
In the other pool, Nadi, with the likes of Kamal Sahib, Savenaca Waqa and Inosi Tora, won the pool and second was Rewa, featuring Jimmy Okete, who scored Fiji's winner against Australia in 1977 (1-0).
The brain of the 'old fox' Farouk Janeman mapped out Ba's route to the final as they scored three times in the first 14 minutes and eventually beat Rewa 4-0.
He was ably assisted by Meli Vuilabasa and Bola. Janeman and Vuilabasa netted a double each with Bola involved in almost all of those goals. In the other semi-final, another walk in the park.
This time Nadi hammering Sigatoka 3-0.
Onto a Ba-Nadi final. Never before had a team won the IDC five years in a row.
Ba was on track with Inia Bola netting a penalty for the Men in Black in the 21st minute. Nadi's Prem Chand, who had given away the first penalty, made amends in the second half with a spot-kick of his own when the late Jo Tubuna handled in the box.
It was 1-all at full-time and after the first spell of extra time.
Two minutes from the end of extra time, Ba left winger Feroz Khan, having been set up by Janeman, sent a cross in front of the Nadi goal.
Kini Mocelutu, Bola's brother, who had come on as a substitute, found the net with a header. Ba won 2-1 and made it five-in-a-row. But this wasn't the real story.
Bola basked in glory like all other Ba players only to return home and find out that his wife had lost their baby, a son born prematurely on the opening day of the tournament and buried the following day.
Bola's wife said she kept the news from her husband as she did not want to distract him from doing what he loved best — playing for Ba and winning the IDC.
"She deserves the sympathy of all the people of Ba for her courage," then BFA president and businessman Vinod Patel said after the win.
Bola, then a 24-year-old labourer, said he, Mocelutu and cousin Semi Tabaiwalu would have pulled out if they had been told about the tragedy.
He finally found out after returning home the night of the final. "It was the shock of my life," Bola said. "I just could not believe it."
The couple had two daughters at the time — four-year-old Ruci Vula and one-year-old Loraini Ravita.
Later Patel added that had Bola's wife and family relayed the message to them, the entire Ba team may have decided against playing.
So, to some extent, the Bola family has a huge hand in Ba's historic reign of the 70s.
This is a fine example of how Ba football's success hasn't only been built around the field of play — but off it as well!