When those young men, decided on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year of the 20th century to form a football club, little did they know how much influence their decision will have on Ghanaian and African football.
A 100 years later and 38 major trophies in between, Accra Hearts of Oak remain one of Africa’s greatest clubs. Popularly known as the Phobia club, they have taken their brand of exciting football backed by a melodious support to some exciting heights. Even though their first competitive win will come 11 years after their formation, Hearts have never looked back. The rainbow club has left a golden impression in the sands of time. These few paragraphs are not enough to describe some of the exciting moments Hearts of Oak have brought to Ghana.
In the 1970s, under the chairmanship of Tommy Thomoson, Coach Addo Odametey built the famous ‘Miraculous Squad’ which was made up of such Ghanaian legends as Ofei Ansah, Adolf Armah (who was undoubtedly Africa’s best at the time), the dribbling magician Mohammed Ahmed “Polo”, Mahama “Acquah” Musah the versatile leader, Peter Lamptey (popularly known as Zagallo) and Anas Seidu.
If the 1970s were miraculous. then the 1980s and 1990s were simply poetic. Dr. Nyaho Tamakloe was now the leader of the club. Together with coach Cobinnah, a youthful squad was forged which took Ghana soccer to a new level. Players like Joe Addo, Paul Adjoda, Eben Dugbartey, Edward “Santrofi” Acquah, Ablade Kumah and Shamo Quaye brought so much excitement to Ghanaian league that their entire squad were nicknamed ‘The Musical Youth’. These young men played so coherently, it was as though their game plan had been constructed by the great Beethoven himself.
The 2000s capped a century of hard work with some glorious international moments. At the dawn of the 2000s, club chairman Harry Zakuor and coach Cecil Jones Attuquayefio formed one of Africa’s most combative teams which went about conquering every opposition in their way to win every major African trophy. So fierce was this squad that they were named ‘The 64 Battalion’; after one of Ghana Armed Forces’ infantry divisions.
Like every organic entity, Hearts of Oak have had their first share of downward trends. But in sum, there is no doubt they have had a great century.
Today, as they celebrate their centenary, it is needless to say that The Rainbow Family will have to reflect on the question of why the club has stagnated over the last decade. How is it that after 100 years of existence, and so many titles won the infrastructural base of the club is so weak? On the technical side of things, is 100 years not enough to have established a Hearts of Oak brand of football? How is it that the Phobia brand is still not raking in millions of dollars after a 100 years of legitimacy? Why have the once passionate and musical fans refused to turn up for Hearts of Oak games? Do these mind-bending questions have any relation with the current management structure of the club?
Happy centenary to the entire Hearts Family!