On this day, 24 August 1958 (Exactly 61 years ago today), what was supposed to be the first league match between Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak was abandoned at the Sir Francis Jackson Park in Kumasi after seventy minutes.
Hearts had taken a commanding 3-0 lead at half time through Ofei Dodoo, C. K. Gyamfi and Nii Noi Dowuona but Kotoko scored three goals in ten minutes through Kwame Adarkwa, Wilberforce Mfum and Fred Akuffo on resumption. Ofei Dodoo scored his second of the day to make it 4-3 for Hearts.
Before a fairly large crowd including the Director of Sports, Ohene Djan, Hearts entered the field with determination and straightaway pushed Kotoko into defense .
With beautiful team work and speed they gave Kotoko defenders many anxious moments but right back Dogo Moro made a grand stand and faced the Hearts forwards with courage.
Violence began when there was an incident between a Kotoko player, Gago Moro and Hearts goalkeeper Addoquaye Laryea, after Kotoko had scored their third goal against Hearts who had at that time scored four.
Hearts, who had earlier protested against the decision of the referee to rescind his ruling that Moro should leave the field for rough play, refused to continue the match with twenty minutes left to play.
Spectators then rushed on to the field and some of them started manhandling the players. Over 100 people, including players, were detained by the Police.
Addoquaye Laryea was rushed to the hospital for treatment as well as Mfum of Kotoko. Referee Gray had to seek Police protection. Infact, it was a terrible scene and the most unsportsmanlike soccer ever seen in Ghana.
Bad tackling was the main cause of the incidents, and both sides were guilty. But had the referee been consistent and firm in his decisions, things would not have gone as they did.
In a statement issued after the match, Mr B. E. Gwira, then Chairman of the Kumasi Municipal Council, called on football clubs to exercise “extreme measures to prevent the supporters from besieging the field of play in times of argument arising between players and referees. “
The Chairman was expressing his regret for the brutal manner players were assaulted in this match. He said : “Obviously, it was an event no one had expected and the outcome beats the conscience of every individual. “
He criticised Hearts of Oak for refusing to accept the referee’s ruling to allow Moro Gago to resume play after he had ordered him off, even though, in his opinion, the referee did not act rightly.
“Furthermore,, ” he continued “Gago had played for 20 minutes before they raised the protest and refused to continue.
“None-the-less, I am sure that had not supporters of Hearts rushed to the field to implore them to desist from playing, they would eventually have agreed to play. “
In conclusion, the Chairman called upon the League Management Committee “to appoint referees, who know the rules and can interpret them decisively, to handle all matches. Acts of such nature leave much to be desired in Ghana soccer and much has to be done to polish teams in Ghana.”
The League Management Committee met on the matter and decided that there should be a replay because it was the crowd who interfered with the progress of the game and the referee was compelled under the circumstances to abandon the match.
Moro Gago was suspended from the rest of the League for refusing to leave the field when ordered to do so.
When the two met again on November 2,1958, at the Jackson Park in Kumasi , Hearts of Oak won the replay in grand style. The score was five goals to two, but Hearts could have scored more if Ofei Dodoo, who allowed four golden chances slip past, had played his usual good game.
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STORIES: GEORGE MAHAMAH