Accra Hearts of Oak SC remain one of Africa’s most celebrated football clubs with 20 League crowns under their belt among numerous trophies. The one time unbeatable Accra based club boasted of a strong support base thanks to their array of super stars assembled in the late 90s and 2000s. A strong monopoly enjoyed from 1998 to 2004 sums up how good the Oak tree was and the expected role played by the teaming supporters. Stadia were filled with the LOVELY rainbow colors. The main voice during match resonated with same pitch: Arose Arose Arose, We are the famous Hearts of Oak, we never say die. Yes, they never say die but is that the case now?
The appetite of a football fan is enticed by the quality of players on board but the presence of a club supporter at a match venue has absolutely nothing to do with class of players on board, results of previous match or the tendency of losing the game. Supporters stay with the club, in physical presence, with material support and even offering escape route for the club during troubled times. The template used by Liverpool FC suporters during their dark days depict the role of a supperter. Denigrating comments, demotivating each other, blame games channeled at management and radio chants won’t change one bit of the club’s woes.
In a period when the club need all its stakeholders on board, supposed supporters of Accra Hearts of Oak SC resort to radio waves for updates when they could just pass through the Accra Sports Stadium to provide moral support. Who should go and update you as a follower of the club? Football is played with 12 men, yes 12 men. The 12th man is technically called the supporter, not the general spectators. Can we compare the current class of Hearts of Oak supporter to the generation that witnessed 6 year winning streak from 1998 in the Ghanaian terrain? The secret was that supporters rallied with the club during troubled times, traveling to virtually every single match day across the length and breadth of the country. They were integral part of the team and not blame experts. Supporters could contribute and fund players transfers, financially motivate players, personally adopt players as their children. That was Hearts of Oak SC, that was the Oak brand and the results roared in decibels. Kumasi Stadium became their favorite grounds even against Asante Kotoko SC. What has changed?
The best description for the current crop of supporters is passive consumers of success. They celebrate victories of Hearts of Oak SC, shun away from the club’s poor form, distance themselves from contributions to the club and are very good at countering plans from the leadership of the club. They will propose names for the club to buy and ended up using the radio landscape to pin down their own management. The concept of contributive development has been thrown to the dogs with only good results accepted by same fans that will not travel with the club. Don’t get it wrong, there are still few supporters of the one time Oak Tree but the majority of followers now are spectators at their very best.
The 2019/20 Ghana Premier League season kicks off in 31 days from today, November 21, 2019. A change of attitude from the fans will impact positively on the playing staff and even corporate world. Who will not want to associate with such beautiful family if they can storm match venues? Role of supporters cannot be quantified in the positive growth of any football entity. Take a look at the Super Eagles of Nigeria or the Yellow Walls of Borrusia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga.
If the low turnout for matches recur in the upcoming season, have these fans any legitimate right to demand the signing of marquee players for the team? Asante Kotoko SC racked in over 25 billion old Cedis during their continental campaigns in recent years. The platforms might vary but same support during the NC Special Competition would have raised expectations heading into the new era.