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English Premier League

Wonders will never end

Wonders will never end, especially in football, notably the English Premier League. And let me add to the list of wonders for a bonus point, the way the game is administered in our dear 66-year-old independent nation.

The 7-0 humiliation of the renascent Manchester United by the hitherto unstable Liverpool really depicts why football pools is such a viable and exciting venture in England.

As an avowed Man U supporter, I am shocked to the marrow. Looks like Rashford and co were hypnotised. It is doubtful whether the most optimistic Liverpool lover even dreamt of such a clear cut victory over the Red Devils from the Theatre of Dreams. Well, that is football for you. The wonder game that knows no logic.

The record keepers say Man United’s loss is the biggest beating in this famous fixture. United lost by the same margin to Blackburn Rovers in 1926, to Aston Villa in 1930 and to Bolton Wanderers in 1931.

Football historians say none of these results will be mentioned in the same breadth like this one because of who inflicted this and where.

This reminds me of the humiliating 4-0 thrashing Accra Hearts of Oak gave to Asante Kotoko in their league match at Accra Stadium on March 15 2000. Ishmael Addo had a field day scoring a brace in five minutes. Kenneth Sarpong made it 3-0 on the 52nd minute and Emmanuel Kuffuor completed the rout with six minutes left.

Even though the league history records the 5-0 defeat Cape Coast Mysterious Dwarfs dished out to Asante Kotoko in 1969 as the Porcupine Warriors heaviest defeat in league history, the Hearts show has completely eclipsed that wondrous feat by Dwarfs.

All this is due to the intense historical rivalry between the two best supported clubs in the country Kotoko and Hearts. Indeed, they are the only clubs yet to taste relegation since the national league was launched in 1958. An enviable record akin to Brazil being the only nation to have, up to date, qualified for every FIFA World Cup since its inception in 1930. They are five times champions if you care to know.

Back to Cape Coast 1969. I vividly recall the myth surrounding Dwarfs’ massive victory on that August 31 afternoon that coincided with, Asante Kotoko’s 34th birthday.

It was also an exciting time with those of us on the sports desk of the Daily Graphic armed with a big sports story for the Monday edition.

The practice in the newsroom at the time was to take down stories on the phone. When our correspondent Pamidy Amoah called to give the headline scores first to enable us compile the league table, I thought he was on one of his usual pranks.

I told him to be serious this time round since the sports desk was working against time on league match days. I inquired whether Kotoko fielded their full set including wizard dribbler Osei Kofi. His confirmation of the full line up consisting all the great stars who had just returned from a two-week tour of the UK, convinced me that Kotoko had truly been beaten by a determined group of Mysterious Dwarfs.

It was a packed to capacity stadium those days. Each of the league clubs had at least two or three key players who attracted fans so each match had a peculiar attraction. As for Fabulous Asante Kotoko, almost all matches involving them guaranteed heavy patronage. A Kotoko fixture guaranteed huge pay day for all home clubs.

Matches involving Kotoko against Hearts continued to have a long tradition of special status over the years. Not even the unfortunate May 2001 Accra Stadium disaster that killed 126 football fans could affect the enthusiasm of fans to fill the stands. Patronage kept so high that Nana Abrah Appiah’s PLB dubbed Hearts-Kotoko matches, Super Clash.

The wonder is that the much heralded Super Clash is being gradually but unnoticeably adulterated by the new administrators of Ghana football. It is a bit difficult to understand their criteria used in drawing the national football calendar.

We had a Presidential Cup match to play on the eve of independence anniversary and it’s a mess. Instead of a real Presidential Cup, arrangements fit for purpose, a Kotoko versus Hearts league match is turned into a quick fix. It is hurriedly branded a knockout match in disguise. You now have a penalty shootout if there is no winner after 90 minutes.

To add confusion to disbelief, kick off time kept changing from late afternoon to floodlights since it suddenly dawned on someone that there was the probability that Liverpool and Manchester United match on satellite TV could distract attention.

Perhaps gone are the days when fans of foreign clubs like Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, etc went to the stadium with small radio sets to listen to BBC commentary on EPL matches while watching their local idols in flesh. Please don’t ask me if there are any local idols to watch, I don’t have the answer.
My only worry is why the GFA is determined to adulterate the value of the only golden egg fixture in Ghana football to such an extent that gates are open free to supposedly attract national attention.

I hope the resultant financial encumbrances in this Hearts-Kotoko gate free match wouldn’t affect funds meant for the upcoming African Games scheduled for overcrowded Olympic year 2024.

And lest I forget, what’s the fate of Hearts of Oak’s embattled Serbian coach who has been advised by the Police to stay away from the club’s activities in his own interest. I suggest the GFA must show some interest in this matter to avoid unwarranted international repercussions.

Cheers everybody and keep loving sports.

Credit: Ken Bediako

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