Asante Kotoko have chalked several firsts in Ghana, before Hearts of Oak followed suit and one of them is the wearing of football boots.
As the two clubs lock horns in the epic encounter dubbed SuperClash, Sports Statistician Thomas Freeman Yeboah delves into the background of how Ghanaian clubs began wearing boots.
Although the first club formed in Ghana was Excelsior, Hearts of Oak are the oldest existing club (formed in 1911), setting the pace for others to follow.
Most Ghanaian clubs including Kotoko took inspiration from their existence to be formed.
Hearts of Oak will always boast of the fact that Kwesi Kuma, a driver and the brain behind the formation of Asante Kotoko mooted for the establishment of the Porcupine Warriors after watching a game between Hearts and Standfast in Accra.
However, Asante Kotoko are also blessed to have inspired their senior folks to wear boots for the very first time.
Football in the olden days was played barefoot and India even rejected appearing at the FIFA World Cup because they refused to wear football boots in the 1950 FIFA World Cup. Ironically, they have since failed to qualify for the Mundial.
Although Excelsior which was the first club formed in Ghana played with boots because it was dominated by European sailors, the club failed to stand the test of time and collapsed earlier.
It was Asante Kotoko that made the wearing of football boots in Ghana popular.
Two top Black Stars players during the Gold Coast era were the first to wear football boots – James Adjei of Asante Kotoko and EC Briant of Hearts of Oak – when they came along in boots after Black Stars toured Britain in 1951.
Patron of Asante Kotoko Degraft Dickson afterward bought football boots for the entire Asante Kotoko team from Britain, making them the first Ghanaian football club to play in boots, after Excelsior in the early 1900s.
Hearts of Oak emulated and, prior to a friendly game against Asante Kotoko in 1954, the Phobians followed suit and also wore football boots.
However, Kotoko took a three-goal lead in that game, because the Hearts of Oak players felt uncomfortable playing in boots for the very first time.
In the second half, the Phobians took off their football boots and played with their barefoot. The scoreline remained the same.
With time, Hearts of Oak became used to the wearing of football boots and all the Ghanaian football clubs followed the pioneering feat of Kotoko who, aside from being the first Ghanaian club to wear football boots, were also the first club to undertake a training tour abroad in 1969.
That is why they missed the opportunity of playing against Pele’s Santos in Accra. When the Brazilian club arrived in Ghana around the same period, the Porcupine Warriors were in Great Britain playing against a Stoke City that contained the likes of legendary goalkeeper Gordon Banks and other English superstars.
Hearts of Oak, inspired by Kotoko’s move, took their turn and toured Britain in 1970. Another first for Asante Kotoko was the fact that they were the first Ghanaian club to win a continental trophy when they beat Englebert (now TP Mazembe) at the Tata Raphael Sports Stadium in Congo Kinshasa in January 1971 to become African champions.
The Kumasi giants were also the first to represent Ghana in the African Cup Winners Cup in 1976.
Meanwhile, Hearts of Oak were the first Ghanaian club to win an organized national league in 1956/57. But Asante Kotoko won the maiden edition of the FA Cup, beating the Phobians 4-2 in the final.
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