Accra Hearts of Oak’s latest anniversary is, surely, the best they’ve had in more than a decade.
If for nothing at all, it is the first since their 98th that Hearts aren’t celebrating empty-handed; too bad neither the Ghana Premier League nor FA Cup trophies they secured so convincingly last season is designed to contain any of the champagne flowing today at No.13 Sobukwe Road, Adabraka.
Those were the first major pieces of silverware Hearts have won in 12 years, and fans of the club have reason to believe there is much more to come. Hearts’ start to this season — two games, no wins — inspires little confidence that those hopes would be rewarded but, brushing aside that slow start, it’s undisputable that the Phobians still have the resources to sustain their impressive run.
In truth, though, it doesn’t really matter how their title/cup defence ends; Hearts have their eyes on other acquisitions, ones more essential to the profile of a modern football club.
Hearts have spent much of these 110 years filling up their trophy cabinet, amassing a collection that stands at — and here are the really big ones — 21 league titles, 11 FA Cup triumphs, and three continental trophies.
They aren’t finished yet on that front, one suspects, but the future could open up a whole new perspective of success. For all they have achieved on the pitch, Hearts have precious little to their name in terms of infrastructure, while the club’s huge appeal — second only, in Ghana, to archrivals Asante Kotoko’s — has barely been harnessed.
They are, however, in the process of changing that narrative, albeit belatedly. The massive project in Pobiman which is already underway — and, in fact, near completion — will take Hearts up several notches, as would the new secretariat in the works.
Then there is the mega Hearts brand that is being gradually, yet actively, exported, the first major step of which is the recently announced Common Value Club Alliance with Bundesliga side TSG Hoffenheim and MLS’ FC Cincinnati.
All of that, collectively, represents the birth of a new dawn, one in which success won’t be defined solely by points accrued, silverware won, and big-name signings made. Hopefully, the accomplishments to be celebrated another 100 years or so from now — if Hearts, and indeed this world, remain in existence — would be of a wider, richer variety.