Exactly 108 years ago in Accra, the seed for one of the most revered clubs in West Africa was planted. Accra Hearts of Oak was formed.
Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club, commonly referred to as Hearts of Oak or just Hearts 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.
Unprecedented success in the late 90s and early 2000s shot the club into global status with a CNN weekly ranking of 8th becoming a point of reference for the greatness of the Oak Tree.
However, Hearts’ fortunes have plummeted in the last decade under with the once trophy-happy club going 10 years without a major trophy.
Nonetheless, the club is one of the most loved sporting brands in the country for various reasons.
On the eve of their 108th birthday, Angel Sports asked the general public what particular reasons makes them fall in love or admire the club.
Here are some reasons
1. COLOURS, THE RAINBOW COLOURS:
“@Amin Appau on Facebook said; “I love them because of their Rainbow colors”
Accra Hearts of Oak is a colourful club. The team adopted a green and white jersey upon their formation in 1911. 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. That was the beginning of the fearsomeness of the now famous Rainbow jersey.
The symbolism also serves as an obvious symbol of peace and serenity. These feeling of supremacy and power by the fans are often evoked when the rainbow sets in the skies on match days. The sight alone is enough to send shivers down the spine of opponents. The fans believe the signalling of the rainbow on match days is symbolic of a very powerful and important message.
The admiration and adulation of the colours has recently been boosted by the new dazzling Hearts of Oak kits produced by manufacturing giants, Umbro. The geometric pattern and colourful design is just classic. To many fans and non-fans alike, the Hearts of Oak colours are just absolutely awesome.
2. THE SONG, THE ANTHEM
@TeeZhake on Twitter said; “Their anthem and never say die spirit… It’s enviable.. I’m a kotoko fan oo”
“Arose, arose, arose, be quiet and don’t be silly, we are the famous Hearts of Oak, we never say die”,
This is the introductory line to the ever powerful Accra Hearts of Oak anthem. The tuneful song was composed by the celebrated Ghanaian musical group, Wulomei in the late 1970s. The melody was sang by Saka Acquaye, a die-hard fan of Accra Hearts of Oak and a member of the Wulemei Group.
The original intro to the powerful song in the club hymm reads; 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”. This was corrupted to “Arose Arose” in the Wulemei song.
The chanting of this song at the Accra Sports Stadium or at any other venue by the fans of Hearts of Oak not only slights their opponents but also acts as adrenaline to boost the morale of the players.
Without any doubt, the Accra Hearts of Oak song is the most loved and chanted football club song in Ghana. Even sworn Kotoko fans have at time publicly declared their love for the Phobia track. The anthem’s popularity stretches beyond the sporting arena as it is sometimes blasted in night clubs, political events and others.
3. THEIR NAME: HEARTS OF OAK
Sounds fancy, sounds weird and scary. We all know Oaks are the strongest of woods but do not have hearts. So the choice of name is in itself amazing enough to fall in love. Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club, commonly referred to as Hearts of Oak or just Hearts was formed to rival the then only team in Accra, the Invincibles. Legend says the founding fathers of the club, a group made up of mainly young men from the James Town area sat under an Oak tree, bound by one single desire — to form a club to challenge the only then existing team in Accra, The Invincibles. The tree may have influenced the choice of name.
4. NEVER SAY DIE SPIRIT
Hearts of Oak’s motto, the “Never say die until the bones are rotten”, is perhaps what influenced majority of the club’s late comebacks and famous victories over the years.
@ralphgeneral on Twitter: “ love the club for the “can do spirit”.the motto keeps me going..”never say die until the bones are rotten”.
Royal Sidi on Facebook says “One thing that made me love the club and always wished to play for them was, The unity, fighting spirit and aura around the team is just awesome…
5. WINNING MENTALITY
According to many of the fans who provided answers to our question, they found Accra Hearts of Oak as a team with relentless quest for victory.
@DemostWamzy on Twitter writes; The passion from management to players to supporters is unmeasurable especially in bad times. Even with the weakest team, there is always the believe of winning especially against kotoko.
The players are always intrinsically motivated other than financially or material-wise.
Royal Sidi on Facebook writes; me love the club and always wished to play for them was,
The unity, fighting spirit and aura around the team is just awesome…
It felt soo good playing against them…
6. INTIMIDATING FANS
Hearts of Oak has a following that can intimidate any rival team when they come to the Accra Stadium. The venue used to be a fortress for most years and clubs sunk deeply anytime they visited. They use constant singing, display their incredible support, especially in the intimidating Osu Stand where the famous and ever-singing Chapter O have creates a fiery gathering.
@naasemanhyia Nana Yaw Owusu on Twitter says;
“hey have some vociferous, unflinching, dying fans. I can mention of late Kanewu, Shamo Quaye, Baba Ashai…”