Monday, August 2, 2021

Today in Sports History: Hearts of Oak crowned 1958 League Champions

On this day 16 November 1958 (Exactly 62 years ago today) Accra Hearts of Oak were crowned Ghana League Champions, five days after their 47th birthday.

Asante Kotoko almost spoiled the party by defeating the Phobians 4-2 on the final matchday at the Accra Sports stadium, but the results of the match did not matter, the Phobians had already won.

It was a disgraceful episode. During the match, police officers twice had to rush to the field to enforce the referee’s decisions.

Players just had no respect for the referee. After the match, fists took over as players engaged in free fighting.

Supporters fought with shameless pride, and for the best part of an hour, a whole battalion of policemen surrounded the Kotoko players who were unable even to get into their dressing room.

It had been a great game. Hearts began well and it was against the run of play when Kotoko broke loose, forced two corner kicks and opened the scoring with a header by Baba Yara through Fred Akuffo’s corner kick.

Kotoko, inspired by the early lead and the uproarious cheers of their supporters, made great headway with their attack. Their attack clicked as it had never done in the league and young Adarkwa, playing at inside right for the first time, was a great success, being responsible for most of their moves.

Hearts of Oak, however, were not go be denied their chances. Many times they forced their way through the defence only to be halted by “bulwark” Dogo Moro who intercepted with good judgement.

After some minutes’ pressure, the Kotoko defense gave away a penalty and Kwao Baffoe in goal was sent fumbling as penalty specialist Addo Darku hit it home.

The pace and tension of the match increased and it was a tribute to referee Arthur Muller that it did not deteriorate into a real rough – house.

Kotoko regained the lead when Adu Darku handled the ball in the goal area and made winger Fred Akuffo send the spot-kick past goalkeeper Addoquaye Laryea.

Kotoko kept the initiative and one wondered whether the new spirit had come from a team which had enjoyed so bad a league season.

Their domination became even more pronounced in the second half when Hearts seemed to run out of steam and the red-shirted visitors played the type of fluent soccer associated by only a few group of Ghanaian footballers.

To their dishonour, however, their defence got unduly robust in their tackling and twice launched what looked like physical assaults on referee Muller.

The arrival of the police and the regular counsel of their captain, Baba Yara, restored order, especially after a defensive slip had cost them a goal when Agyrey -Fynn scored from a scramble for Hearts.

The rest of the game was all Kotoko. Baba Yara scored the third goal for Kotoko, then Fred Akuffu added the fourth.

From that moment, it was a simple exhibition. Hearts’ defence seemed to panic at this stage. Rough tackling was the order of the day but again referee Muller came to the rescue and the game moved on to an exciting finish with Kotoko as winners by four goals to two.

After the match, H.P. Nyamitei, then president of Hearts of Oak, issued a statement in which he condemned those responsible for the “shocking attack on the players and supporters.” and added: “By those irresponsible acts, they have placed the reputation of the club in most embarrassing situation and we shall be failing in our duty if we took no action.”

The President recalled that when Hearts of Oak players were attacked and beaten up after their first League match with Kotoko in Kumasi, he condemned the action in no uncertain terms.

“I cannot condone this just because it comes from my camp, ” he said. The President expressed hope that the relations between all the League clubs should be improved by the formation of a Union of National League Clubs to which all of them would be affiliated.

“There is far more than what can do for ourselves by coming closer together and I intend to put this proposal through all the League clubs for consideration,” he said.

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