The Eastern regional town of Oda was thrown into an all-night celebration that travelled into the early hours of Sunday when Kotoku Royals made a triumphant return after booking a place in the Ghana Premier League following their scoreless draw away to Tema Youth to complete Zone Three of the Division One League as champions.
With contenders Liberty Professionals also playing a 0-0 draw with Susubiribi at Old Tafo Akyem, Kotoku Royals finished top of the table with 63 points, one more than second-placed Liberty.
They became the only first indigenous team from the Eastern Region to secure promotion in the elite division of Ghana football after Koforidua-based Power FC suffered relegation from the topflight in 2007.
It was a festive atmosphere at the Tema Stadium when the match came to an end with the result of the Liberty vs Susubiribi match eventually confirming Royals as zonal champions.
Last Sunday evening saw a long convoy of commercial buses filled with fans, as well as those who travelled to Tema in private cars and taxis as they made their way back to their home base tooting their horns after their historic feat. They were given a rousing welcome by jubilant residents as the team and supporters passed through towns such as Nsawam, Adoagyiri, Akyem Akroso, Asuoso, Akyem Asuboa South, Manso, Asene and finally to Oda where people lined up along the main road to welcome their heroes.
For a journey that started at 5:30pm and usually takes three hours from Tema, this time the triumphant team reached their destination almost at midnight to an excited welcome party at their Oda base.
Pride of Eastern Region
The NPP Member of Parliament for Akyem Oda, Alexander Akwasi Acquah, who personally hired 17 commercial vehicles to convey fans to and from the Tema Stadium, said he was happy that Kotoku Royals had brought joy to the people and appealed to indigenes and corporate bodies to assist the club to make a big impact in the premier league next season.
Even though Dreams FC have relocated from Accra to Dawu, the Eastern Region has not been represented in the highest level of Ghana football for a long time.
Following the relegation of Okwawu United FC, Dawu Youngsters and Akwatia Diamond Stars from the topflight in the 1990s, clubs such as Suhum Maxbees, Kade Hotspurs and Power FC at different times played in the premier league but later got demoted.
Last Sunday however, Royals restored the region’s pride and brought honour to Akyem states of Kotoku, Bosome and Abuakwa as the club competed among the elite teams in Ghana football.