A Brief History of Accra Hearts of Oak
Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club, commonly referred to as Hearts of Oak or just Hearts, is a football club based in Accra, Ghana. The club was officially formed on 11th November, 1911 and was the second team to be founded in Accra after The Invincibles. It is the oldest existing club in Ghana today, and among the oldest clubs in the whole of the African continent.
Hearts, who are affectionately nicknamed Phobia, have been among Ghana's pre-eminent clubs since their founding and have been very successful since the formation of the Ghanaian football league in 1956, having collected the league title 19 times. The club's main rival is Asante Kotoko of Kumasi. The club also have a long-standing rivalry with the Accra-based club Great Olympics.
When some young men from Ussher Town in Accra came together sometime in the middle of 1910, little did they know that they were sowing the seed which would one day blossom into the mighty oak tree, Accra Hearts of Oak, the oldest existing club in Ghana today. In fact, those glorious pioneers had been bound together by one single desire—to form a club to challenge the only then existing team in Accra, The Invincibles.
The group was made up of mainly young men from the James Town area. But it was the young man from Saltpond, where the game of soccer had been played earlier on, who gave the newly formed club inspiration and guidance. He was Ackom Duncan who became its first captain. Duncan took up the training of the players and by 1911, Hearts were ready to take on the Invincibles. But it was on November 11, the same year that Hearts outdoored their first jerseys and thus formally was born the club which was to grow into easily one of the most popular clubs in Africa to date.
In 1917, Hearts decided to change its colours. The task was accomplished by Bruce-Tagoe who came out with the "rainbow colours"—red, yellow, and blue. When it was approved, a set of jerseys in the new colours was ordered from Manchester, UK. Outdooring of the new jerseys was marked with a match against the old rivals, The Invincibles. Hearts won by a lone goal.
The first major triumph by Hearts in competitive soccer came in 1922 when the then Governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Gordon Guggisberg, donated a shield for an Accra football league in Accra which had been firmly established in 1920. Hearts won the first competition and the Guggisberg Shield at stake becoming the first city Champions. Hearts went on to win it six times out of 12 competitions and are its proud custodians today having won the last contest in 1954.
Glory years of 2000s
In the millennial year 2000, Hearts of Oak had a perfect campaign by winning the Ghana FA Cup, the Ghana Premier League and the CAF Champions League. This tremendous historical success however came after an unconvincing start to the season when they lost the J. O. T. Agyemang cup to the main arch rivals Asante Kotoko F.C. at the Accra sports stadium in January 2000 and were also eliminated in the preliminary stages of the Guinness Gala 2000. Their season did kick off after the return of Ishmael Addo from trials in Europe and the controversial signing of Charles Asampong Taylor. Hearts inflicted a 4-0 defeat on their arch rivals Asante Kotoko on their way to winning the league with several matches to spare.
In the CAF Champions League competition (which Hearts had never won before), they managed to embark on an almost flawless campaign losing only one game in Kinshasa to DC Motema Pembe of Congo DR. In the two-legged final of the tournament, Hearts of Oak beat Espérance Sportive de Tunis of Tunisia in the first leg by 2-1 at the El Menzah stadium, effectively ending Espérance's 41-year-long unbeaten home record in continental competition. In the second leg, Hearts beat them 3-1 at the Accra Sports Stadium, in a match slightly marred by a self-inflicted injury by Espérance's goalkeeper Chokri El Ouaer.
In February 2001, Hearts topped off a perfect campaign with a 2-0 victory against Zamalek club of Egypt at the Kumasi Sports stadium in Ghana to win the Africa Super Cup. Three years later, in 2004, Hearts won the first edition of the CAF Confederation Cup, the merger of the defunct African Cup Winners Cup and the CAF Cup. Hearts beat arch rivals Asante Kotoko 8-7 on penalties after the two legs ended 2-2. The win made Hearts of Oak the first club to have won both annual club competitions on the continent.
Records and achievements
- The only club in Africa to have played the CAF Champions League unbeaten (2000).
- The only club in Ghana to have won the league on most consecutive times. (Six, 1997-2002)
- The club in Ghana to win the league title with most points, 78 out of 90. (2002)
- The only club in Ghana to have played the premier league unbeaten. (2003)
- The only club to have hosted Santos FC of Brazil and the then Pelé in Ghana. (c. 1956)
- The first club in Africa to win the CAF Confederation Cup. (2004)
- The first ever club in Africa to have undergone shares floatation. (2011)
The club with the most competitive trophies in Ghana.
- The only club to have won an African quadruple in a single season. (2000/1)
- The Ghanaian club to be ranked highest on world rankings, 8th. (CNN, 2001)
Did you know?
Hearts of Oak was actually formed in 1910 but had its formal foundation day of 11th November, 1911, the day on which the club was finally ready to take on The Invincibles.
The original fight song of the club was:
Our roots, our roots are old
So be quiet and don't be silly
We are the mighty Hearts of Oak
We never say die
but has since changed to:
Auros, auros, auros
Be quiet and don't be silly
We are the famous Hearts of Oak
We never say die