Ghana’s oldest existing club Accra Hearts of Oak are one of the most decorated teams in the country for their successes both at home and outside.Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club, commonly referred to as Hearts of Oak or just Hearts, is based in Accra, Ghana.
Hearts have been among Ghana and Africa’s pre-eminent clubs since their founding and have been very successful since the formation of a Ghanaian football league in 1956 having collected the league title 20 times. This brings them one behind their rivals Asante Kotoko of Kumasi, who have been champions 21 times.
The club was formed in 1911 and was the second team to be founded in Accra after the Invincibles. The club was, in the most part, trained by Ackom Duncan, who would also become the team’s first captain. Other members of the fledgling club were J.T. Ankrah (father of Ghana boxing great, Roy Ankrah), and C.B. Nettey, who was later to become the chairman of the Ghana Football Association (GFA). Hearts first match would come on November 11, 1911 against the Invincible.
Hearts of Oak won their first major match in 1922 when Sir Gordon Guggisberg, governor of the Gold Coast, founded the Accra Football League. Hearts won 6 out of 12 seasons in this league. In 1956, Hearts joined the Ghanaian football league and have excelled since Their vice chairman was Mr Robert Hayfron.
Hearts suffered a great tragedy on May 9, 2001 when 126 people died in Africa’s worst footballing disaster while watching a match between Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko. Trouble started when supporters of Asante Kotoko began ripping out seats in an act of hooliganism in protest of Ishmael Addo’s goal allowed by the referee for Hearts of Oak, which they believed should have been disallowed for offside. Police reacted by firing tear gas into the crowd, it has been suggested that this was an over-reaction. Reports suggest that the gates to the ground were locked and that the rush to escape the tear gas was a contributory factor to the death toll. A commission inquiry strangely failed to indict the hooligans in its report.
Accra Hearts of Oak have won both major current CAF trophies despite never winning any of the older incarnations of the CAF competitions. They are the only team in Ghana to have won the league on six consecutive occasions (1997–2002).
On winning the league title in 2009, Hearts are now one behind their rivals Asante Kotoko for the most overall titles. With 9 championships, Hearts have won one more FA cup titles than their arch rivals Kotoko.
In 2000, Accra hearts of Oak had the perfect campaign by winning the Ghana FA cup, the Ghana premier league and the CAF champions league. It 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 from Olympics. They inflicted a 4-0 defeat on their main arch rivals Asante Kotoko on their way to winning the league with several matches to spare.
In the CAF champions league which they 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 ending Esperance’s 41 year long unbeaten home record (in continental competition). In the second leg, Hearts of Oak beat Esperance 3:1 at the Accra Accra sports stadium in a match marred by disturbances from the home fans and a self inflicted injury by Chokri El Ouaer.
On February 2001, they 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.
They made history by becoming the first side to win the Africa Confederation Cup when beating arch rivals Kotoko on penalties in the final in 2004.They have also produced some of the country’s illustrious footballers including midfielder Stephen Appiah who led Ghana to their first two World Cup appearances.Some of their legendary players include the ‘Dribilling Magician’ Mohammed Polo, striker Ishmael Addo, Emmanuel Osei Kuffuor, Adolf Armah, Shamo Quaye, Ablade Kumah and Peter Lamptey.
The side currently coach by Serbian Nebojsa Vucicevic will be counting on goalkeeper Sammy Adjei, defender Godfred Osei Bonsu, striker Mahatma Otoo and Douglas Nkrumah to help them dethrone title holders Berekum Chelsea.