Olympics v Hearts: A tensed rivalry which goes beyond match-day results (Pulse Contributor’s Review)

Football has always found several and meaningful ways of getting us aggressively glued to our television sets, of getting us to lend our ears to the full blast of shrill commentary emanating from the radios.

Great Olympics & Hearts of Oak

The babbling commentary from car-radios, the pocket-radios, the speaker-radios, and on and on. Full attention turns to these gadgets for many who couldn’t journey to the stadium for the big games, the very games we always itch to experience. In a country where the Kotoko versus Hearts rivalry has reached its own sacred height, it’s worth noting that no local derby nears the Accra Hearts of Oak versus Great Olympics derby.

This is a derby which essentially goes beyond just three points: of the fortunate team who won and the dispiriting side which deserved to lose, of the formidable side that carried the day and the brittle team which did not. Results, of course, do matter. But here it matters a bit more, and even goes way beyond it.

A lot is normally at stake in these gruelling and highly fatiguing battles for both the players on the field and the fans at large. These encounters, by and large, are all about the bragging rights, all about the emotional highs, all about the pleasurable feeling and quiet peace which fills you knowing your side got one over its local rivals.

The ability to head off to bed peacefully and happily knowing that the following morning during a brief, benign squabble at work with that guy who usually talks a little too much about his team, you would be able mute him with the latest head-to-head record, and leave the argument feeling more accomplished and satisfied.

And yet, it is in these sort of games which could create a slight yet fairly damaging division between families and friends. There is basically a tendency for tension and resentment to flare-up. The likelihood that innocuous banter could escalate and then mutate into aggressive confrontations.

As humans, since the beginning of time, emotions often than not do get the better of us, and on these distinct occasions, on these yearned for moments, it is at times commonplace for frustrated fans to indulge in the trivial, the insignificant, the petty.

Last January, when the remarkable Gladson Awako inspired Great Olympics to a 2-0 win over Hearts of Oak – his free-kick a piece of magic - it became the first win in the league for Oly Dade in 17 years. The last time the Phobians had tasted defeat in the Ga Mantse derby was as far back as 2004, when Olympics prevailed 3-2 in that thrilling encounter. All this pointing to Hearts of Oak’s brutal hegemony in this local derby for so long a time: having their local rivals sit in their shadows while they reign supreme.

There’s a strong sense that as the title race is beginning to take shape, as Hearts are beginning to accelerate beyond the masses, as a 12-year title drought jinx begs to be broken, Accra Great Olympics would readily and joyously fancy their chances of wreaking havoc: to shred into a million pieces any iota of belief lingering in the Phobian camp. This, above all else, is what they do best: to impede, to delay, to deter.

And so this forthcoming Sunday promises to be fireworks. First on the league table facing third, with a five-point chasm between the two clubs. The win will feel much better and enjoyable. The loss will feel much more painful and unbearable. So we patiently wait, for the Ga Mantse derby to offer us a treat.

Bright Antwi

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf

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