In Celebration of Accra Hearts of Oak, The Old Lady of Ghana Football Featured
11 Nov

In Celebration of Accra Hearts of Oak, The Old Lady of Ghana Football

The halcyon days of Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club ushered the Ghanaian giants into the realm of a powerful football side within football circles earning them the moniker “The Continental Club Masters,” which it has held for years, was by no means a fluke as the clinching of the CAF Champions’ League in 2000, The CAF Super Cup in 2001 and the maiden edition of the CAF Confederations Cup in 2004 stand as ample evidence.

Deeply ensconced in the annals of Ghana’s football history is the tale of Accra Hearts of Oak- one of the two most decorated clubs. Ghana’s football history without the tale of the club cannot be said to be complete. Lovers of the game as well as pundits, with or without malice would attest unflinchingly to this claim. Discussions at soccer concourses can’t end without featuring the club. The club’s success stories know no bounds. Both domestically and continentally, Hearts have made indelible imprints in their exploits.
Accra Hearts of Oak, situated in the heart of Ghana’s capital city Accra, was incepted on 11 November 1911. 
Nicknamed “PHOBIA”, Hearts occupies a red carpet position as the oldest club in Ghana and the third in Africa after Al Ahly and Zamalek, all of Egypt. Among the trophies they can boast of are 20 Ghana League titles, 1 CAF Champions League title, 1 CAF Super Cup, 1 CAF Confederations Cup, 10 FA Cups, 2 Ghana Super Cup trophies among others.
Their colours have been red, yellow and blue with a heart embossed in the stem of the Oak tree as a symbol. The motto “NEVER SAY DIE” reflects the art, science and the reality of the oak tree which is very strong and tough in the forest, thus has the ability to survive all kinds of weather conditions. Fans of the club believe that the successes the club has chalked could be alluded to the motto of the club which propels the players into action even when the odds are against them. 
Former Hearts of Oak Captain Disclose Reason Behind 2000 CAF Champions League Triumph
The “Phobians” as they are affectionately called have a continental history scribbled in gold colours, but the club had to wait till 2000 to win their maiden continental trophy by beating Tunisian giants Espérance Sportive de Tunis. Aspiring to greater heights, they valiantly went ahead to beat Egypt’s Zamalek in the famous CAF Super Cup to become not only the first but the only Ghanaian club to achieve such feat.
As part of an enviable record cast in the mould of nobility, they have won the Ghanaian League 6 consecutive times (1997-2002). They also stand tall in the records as the first club to win the maiden edition of the CAF Confederation Cup by beating their archrivals Kumasi Asante Kotoko. 
The Phobians can also boast of having played an international friendly with Brazilian club Santos, in a match that featured football legend Edson Arantes dos Nascimento, popularly known as “Pele” on June 6, 1969; the legendary Sir Stanley Matthews CBE also featured as a guest player for the club in 1957. Hearts was rated as the 8th best club in the world by CNN/World Soccer Magazine in 2001.
The club has produced quintessential players whose role at both club and country level is more pronounced. The likes of Emmanuel Christian Briandt (The first ever captain of the Black Stars), Edward Aggrey Fynn, who captained the 1963 trophy-winning Black Stars team, and Addo Odametey, who captained the 1965 team that retained the trophy won in 1963, are all ample evidence to the above claim. 
The affable Stephen Appiah, who interlaced his playing skills with leadership qualities and spurred the Black Stars to their debut World Cup appearance in Germany 2006, from there, Ghana and the World Cup have become bedfellows.
Ghana’s football development, particularly the national teams has seen a meteoric rise to fame since then. The roles played by the likes of C.K. Gyamfi, Mohammed Polo, Peter Lamptey, Anas Seidu, Mama Acquah, Robert Hammond, Offei Ansah, Shamo Quaye, Ablade Kuma, Ishmael Addo, Sammy Agyei, Charles Taylor, Emmanuel Osei Kuffuor, Benard Don Bortey cannot be swept under the carpet. 
They have in diverse ways contributed to the growth of Ghana’s football. Like magnets, they attracted mass spectators to the stadium. Rarely was the stadium empty in a match featuring any of these stars. They dazzled the spectators with their soccer endowments and made fans have value of their money. Playing with panache was just an icing on the cake. Sir Cecil Jones Attuquayefio arguably could be regarded as their best coach. Under his tenure, the club won 4 league titles, 1 CAF Champions League, 1 CAF Confederations Cup among others

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Hearts of Oak-Golden Generation
Quite paradoxically, the glorious stand of this club is not reflective of its posture in terms of infrastructural development. The club has a long way to go in this regard. The club cannot boast of facilities like stadium, training pitches, museum, club house and others befitting its status as the “Continental Club Masters.” 
Hearts of Oak simply haven’t been able to; not with boardroom drama and not with boardroom stability; not with good coaches and not with bad coaches; not with strong squads and not with weak squads. There is no ever-present or underlying factor explaining Hearts’ inability to return to the highest echelon of club football- where it belongs. 
The only constant in all of this are the unhappy endings. There’s no guarantee that a happy one is on the horizon but Hearts is without doubt one of the most colourful and important football clubs on the continent and deserves to be remembered as such.
Happy 108th birthday Accra Hearts of Oak. Phooooooooooobiaaaaaaa!!!!
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