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Goal’s guest writer, in this piece, sums up all that the Phobians stand for on the latest anniversary of Ghana's oldest surviving club's birth

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By Emmanuel Adu-Gyamfi

According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, an oak is a large tree that produces small nuts called acorns. The oak tree is not a single species; about 600 varieties exist worldwide.
 

ANNIVERSARY WIN | Hearts beat Amidaus 1-0 on Sunday to celebrate their feat

Interestingly, oak trees can live up to 200 years or more, and mature trees have the capacity of absorbing more than 50 gallons of water in one day.

In the year 2004, the oak was officially declared as the National Tree of the United States of America, symbolizing the country's sheer strength.

The oak tree is associated with several mythologies. Norse, Greek and Slavic myths present it as the sacred trees of the chief gods Thor, Zeus, and Perun respectively. The Bible also mentions an oak tree located in the city of Shechem, the place where Jacob had buried the foreign gods of the people.

For the reasons aforementioned and more, any establishment with the oak tree as its emblem is bound to stand the test of time. Not many clubs formed over 100 years ago are still in existence and many have sunk into total oblivion not because they were shorn of the materials to propel the team, but because they lacked the courage and the durability that Accra Hearts of Oak easily possess.

In 2000, Hearts claimed the treble after winning the Ghana FA Cup, the Ghana Premier League and the Caf Champions League. The season kicked off with the return of striker Ishmael Addo from trials in Europe and the signing of the brilliant Charles Asampong Taylor. It was in that very year that they inflicted a memorable 4-0 defeat on their archrivals Asante Kotoko on their way to winning the league with several matches to spare.

With a motto as instructive as “Never say die until the bones are rotten”, it is evidently clear that the Phobians do not easily give up. Time and again, they have won games at the depth of full time when all hopes seem to have been lost. And that is the spirit that has kept this great team kicking for 102 years.

Today marks another great milestone in the life of Ghana’s oldest team, arguably the best ever to grace Ghanaian club football. In 2001, the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS), a reputable organisation recognized by FIFA, ranked Hearts 83rd out of 100 clubs in the world. This was no fluke as the club won almost every trophy they competed for. In that same year, Hearts were rated 8th best club in the world by CNN/World Soccer Magazine.

Throughout its history, the club has had the privilege of having very talented players don the famous rainbow jersey. Several others who are fortunate enough to have been associated with the club in one way or the other are recognised worldwide as genuine stars who can compete at any level of professional football.

Hearts' Emmanuel Chris Briandt was the first ever captain of the Black Stars, and when the senior national team won the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in 1963, then Ghana skipper Edward Aggrey Fynn doubled as captain of Hearts. Stephen Appiah, leader of the Black Stars squads that qualified Ghana for its only two World Cup appearances in 2006 and 2010, was nurtured and brought to stardom by Hearts.

There is the need for a united front so Hearts can relive the good old times. The memories from the past have been great, yet the future certainly looks brighter

Other notable players produced are Charles Kumi Gyamfi, Offei Ansah, Yaw Amankwaa Mireku, Sammy Adjei, Adolf Armah, Mohammed Polo, Shamo Quaye, Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour, Bernard Dong-Bortey, Ablade Kumah (captain of the Black Meteors batch that won Africa’s 1st ever Olympic soccer bronze medal at Barcelona 1992 - and Ishmael Addo, Golden Boot winner at the Fifa U17 World Cup in New Zealand in 1999 and three-time Ghana Premier League goal king, achieving the latter feat in consecutive seasons.

Hearts of Oak boast arguably the largest fan base in Ghana, one which probably stretches beyond the borders of the country. Football fanatics around the world who know anything about club soccer in Africa are likely conscious of the institution Hearts is and what it stands for.

Undeniably, the successes of the club hinges on its massive following, especially the “Musical Chapter 0” arm which offers a unique brand of both the ‘kpanlogo and kolomashie” kinds of indigenous music which spurs the players on to give off their best.

Over the years, the club has had the honour and privilege of being led by astute leaders, too, visionaries in soccer philosophies who have shown dedicated service to the cause and progress of the club.

Among the most distinguished of these include the likes of Dr. Nyaho Tamakloe, late President JEA Mills, Harry Zakkour ('Millennium Chairman'), Fawaz Zowk, Ernest Thompson, Tommy Okine/Nii Ayi Bonte II (Gbese Mantse), E.M Commodore Mensah, Frank Nelson Nwokolo, Ato Ahwoi, Togbe Afede (Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State), and current Managing Director Neil Armstrong-Mortagbe.

On the 102nd anniversary of hard work and great achievements, it is indeed important to rally every tom, dick and harry round the oak tree draped in rainbow colours for a common good.

There is the need for a united front so Hearts can relive the good old times. The memories from the past have been great, yet the future certainly looks brighter.

Long Live the Oak Tree!
Long live the Phobian Family!!
Long Live Hearts of Oak!!!

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