Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hearts vs Kotoko - For the atmosphere!

I have a pile up of things to write about the Hearts - Kotoko derby, the Joy Fm Night with the Stars event and by request from Lucky Heather my war with bracelet sellers on Oxford Street. I have been meaning to write for a couple of weeks but busyness and work issues and health issues keep delaying me. (Incidentally, the work issues may lead to a couple of interesting blogs eventually!)

This time round I think I will focus briefly on the Hearts- Kotoko derby at the Accra Stadium. On the morning of the game I was unsure whether I would go or not but having not been to this fixture before I decided I would be a fool to miss out another year! I called Michael (A Twi speaking German who is an unlikely Kotoko ultra) (yet to have a nickname!) and fortunately he had a spare ticket. We strolled down to the stadium met with Stephan (who's nickname will be revealed shortly) and his friend and looked for a safe way into the stadium. Having almost being the victim of robbery there before I am never to careful about getting into the stadium, but this time we managed to enter with no trouble at all. 

We got some relatively good seats behind one of the goals (which is not to bad because the pitch seems extremely small) and sat down with a mix of fans from either team. For those of you who do not live in Ghana or do not know about these two teams, they have the biggest traditional rivalry in Ghanaian local league football. Hearts of Oak are from Accra and Asante Kotoko are from Kumasi (the second city) They have long been the dominant forces in Ghanaian football and have only recently been challenged for the top of the table due to the large investment being made into the local league here. 

So we settle in to our seats, realising that there was no shade and that sunburn was an imminent problem ready for a good match. Michael, the Kotoko hooligan that he is, had inadvertently warn the colours of Hearts of Oak on his t-shirt. (either not the big fan that he suggests he is or hedging his bets incase of a Hearts victory) The atmosphere was great with most of the stadium full. The two sets of fans were singing there songs and one or two vuvuzellas were ringing out! We were a ready for the game. 

I would love to sit here and tell you all that the game was played with incredible quality but unfortunately that was not the case. To keep the sports journalism part down to a minimum, apart from a few glimpses of some skill from one or two of the players the spacial and tactical awareness of both teams was just not apparent. There was no diagonal runs in the attack, in fact hardly any movement into space at all. If there did happen to be movement the person on the ball seemed not to have the vision to anticipate it. The referee made a few blunders. He missed a couple of bad tackles and punished a couple of good tackles but not enough to suggest that he had been bribed (at least bribed enough) by either of the teams. 

The other on field mistake was by one of the referees assistants. He gave a corner kick when the ball was clearly not out of play. This led to some off pitch trouble when some of the fans from the upper stands started to launch a bottle attack on the linesmen who had to begin to dodge for his life! The police then jumped into action by standing and waving at the crowed! (I can now see why they earned there salary increase!) The Kotoko players also came over to the side of the pitch and begged and waved to the fans to stop bottle bombing the linesmen! The eventually stopped and the pitch was cleared and the game go back underway. (Bottle bombing happened at one more occasion in the second half of the game)

Other points of note in the game where the Kotoko mascot and the eating habits of a german football fan!

The Kotoko mascot is, in fact, a cow! I actually spent the better half of the first half watching this cow mince around the stadium trying to get the crowed singing and winding up the Hearts fans. (Quite amooooosing)(sorry that is terrible!) I don't think I can say much more about him (or her, maybe he/she had udders?)

Now on to Stephan's eating habits. Back home, it is not unusual to grab a beer before the game and a pie at half time! (a big manly meat pie to keep the energy levels up to shout abuse at the opposing fans and players and occasionally your own manager in the second half) Now, Stephan may, or may not be the typical football fan in Germany but it seems that his choice of half time food is...a cucumber! I of course asked "what the hell are you eating?" but he was able to justify his choice due to the high water content! (Fair enough, but he could just have had a bottle of water?)

Oh, by the way, the score is 0-0 and I lost my bet that there would be a penalty before the final whistle!

Kotoko Fan/Hearts Colours!
Cucumber and his Cucumber!

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