A brief history of Accra Hearts of Oak

Last updated: May 20, 2015 at 17:55 GMT Share: Twitter | Facebook

Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club, commonly referred to as Hearts of Oak or just Hearts, is a football club based in Accra, Ghana.
Early years, glorious days, and some achievements

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.

Early years

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

  1. The only club in Africa to have played the CAF Champions League unbeaten (2000).
  2. The only club in Ghana to have won the league on most consecutive times. (Six, 1997-2002)
  3. The club in Ghana to win the league title with most points, 78 out of 90. (2002)
  4. The only club in Ghana to have played the premier league unbeaten. (2003)
  5. The only club to have hosted Santos FC of Brazil and the then Pelé in Ghana. (c. 1956)
  6. The first club in Africa to win the CAF Confederation Cup. (2004)
  7. The first ever club in Africa to have undergone shares floatation. (2011)
  8. The club with the most competitive trophies in Ghana.
  9. The only club to have won an African quadruple in a single season. (2000/1)
  10. The only 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

Comments (13)

May 10, 2015 at 14:53 GMT

Congratulation for records you line up for the great club. Thank you.

Justice Sarpong
May 20, 2015 at 13:01 GMT

Number eight(8) is not true. Kotoko has won more cups than Hearts in Ghana league, 23_20

Africa cup, Kotoko 2, Hearts, 1

Michael Kwayisi
May 20, 2015 at 17:50 GMT

@Justice, Hearts have won the domestic league 20 times, FA Cup: 10, GHALCA Top Four: 3, Ghana Super Cup: 2, CAF Champions League: 1, CAF Confederation Cup: 1, CAF Super Cup: 1; a total of 38 trophies. Kotoko, on the other hand, have won the league 24 times, FA Cup: 8, GHALCA Top Four: 2, Ghana Super Cup: 2, Africa Cup: 2; a total of 38, same as Hearts'. (Please note that ONLY competitive trophies are being counted.)

At the time of writing the article (Feb 2013) Hearts had won more trophies so #8 was true, but I'm afraid that's no longer the case. Thanks for the heads up, although your numbers are a bit off :) I shall accordingly update the article to reflect the change.

Wisdom Dapaah
August 21, 2015 at 08:07 GMT

Hearts of oak with all this trophies will never go to relegation if it happens. I will resign as the spokes person of concerned hearts of oak supporters union of tamale.

August 23, 2015 at 17:16 GMT

Number (8) is true champions League and the confederation cup....phoooobia! Never Never say die

September 1, 2015 at 08:00 GMT

All da records is true woooowwwww.pooohbia dedeeeda pohbia bobobooooobo we never say die.pls tell me wht happen in da year 1990 mtn FA Cup.i wnt to no more detials dat year

September 19, 2015 at 17:27 GMT

Not only #8 by the world CNN but the first Ghanaian club to won Africa best club of the year 2000-2001 PHOBIA NEVER SAY DIE

Samuel Ameyibor
March 19, 2016 at 13:06 GMT

Wow thats great n impressive .Well done phoooooobia papapaaaa.Wish u well my darling club.PHOOOOOOOBIA NO SIZE

Adam Asmieu
March 20, 2016 at 14:15 GMT

Waaaaaoooow that is gud n impressive .Well done phoooooobia papapaaaa.Wish u well my darling club.PHOOOOOOOBIA NO
As a concerne phobia fun and the president of phobia supporters of east legon i say we deserve champions dis season too with the braking right .

May 25, 2016 at 06:37 GMT

so if all these records are there,why do they so noise team(Kotoko) talk a lot and CAF names kotoko as the club of the century, Phobiaaa Papapaa Salute all fans of Phobia and the board of directors

Kennedy Ohene Offei Asiedu
June 25, 2016 at 12:08 GMT

waaaaoooooow Phooooooobia ma darling club congratulations....God is still blessing us .... phooooobia ....we appreciate the effort....may we live long with with e same records...hail hearts of oak ..hail phobia

July 28, 2016 at 10:06 GMT

And the match against Santos ended 2 2 . Hearts even had a goal wrongly ruled out as offside. Pele scored in that match.
And Hearts is the only team to have win all the first 14 matches in Ghana league history.. 42 points out of a possible 42.(2002).

The fearsome fivesome( 7. Robert Hammond, 8. Anas Seidu 9. Peter Lamptey(Goal chief) , 10.Mahama Acquah(Field Marshall) and 11. Mohammed Ahmed Polo(Dribbling magician ) ) started playing tiki-taka before Cruff's Ajax.
Phooobia, Beatiful people with Beatiful colors
Phooobia!! The continental club masters
Phoooobia!!! Masters

yelsung simon
August 17, 2016 at 12:17 GMT

number 8is true hearts won more cups dan kotoko.phoooooobia my darling club

More: Related content On the Web »
Copyright © 2016 Michael Kwayisi