This is one of the most often asked questions which I have had to answer in Turkey, and although my answer satisfies most people, there are some who don't understand the logic. I think we have to accept that there is a wide diversity in culture between countries when it comes to supporting a football team, and in my country we normally follow our home town team. For example, my father supported East Fife because he was born near Methil in Fife. My mother and brother support Rangers because they were born in Glasgow, and I support Hibernian because I was born only one mile from Easter Road Stadium in Edinburgh. This scenario is quite common in Scotland if the family was born or have lived in different parts of the country. However, I think it would be rare to find an equivalent set of circumstances in Turkey. It is sometimes difficult for foreigners to accept, but the fact is that most families in Turkey support one of the 3 Istanbul teams and it is usually passed on from generation to generation. The fact that a person was born and bred in Ankara for instance is not considered so important in most cases. I for one think it is sad that home town loyalty seems to be a secondary issue here in Turkey.
Anyway, back to my original question. I have to go back to 1988 when I had left the Royal Air Force and joined British Aerospace in the Middle East. My family were living in Ankara at that time and on one of my holidays back to Ankara that year I attended a `Parents Evening` in the British Embassy School. During the evening my wife introduced me around and it was then that I met the Ankaragucu goalkeeper whose daughter was also in my daughter's class. We entered into an in-depth conversation about football (I played and coached football in the RAF and was also a Class 1 Referee) and in the end he invited me to the Stadium as his guest the following weekend - an invitation which I accepted. The gentleman in question was ZALAD from Serbia who was held in very high esteem by the Ankaragucu supporters, however, there may be some Turkish football supporters reading this with long memories who may take the opposite view due to an alleged misdemeanour which I will not expand on here (libel is still a crime in Turkey !!!).
Back to the match and I was so impressed with the atmosphere in the Stadium and the obvious fanatical loyalty of the Ankaragucu supporters that I promised myself that I would return in the future. I kept my promise and supported them on my infrequent visits to Ankara until I returned here permanently in 1999. So, I have much to thank Zalad for. He `opened the door` of Ankara footie to me and for that I will be ever grateful.
As for the fans, I have never had reason to change my opinion of them. In all honesty, I have never seen such a loyal band of supporters in all my travels around the world. Their love and dedication to the team never fails to amaze me ! There is a strong bond not found in other clubs and I return to the `Istanbul` factor again. Whilst they love their own team, there is also an underlying feeling of `ANTI-ISTANBUL` fervour among most of the supporters which is easy to understand when you consider that most of Ankara's residents support Istanbul teams but only bother to watch them on TV or when they visit Ankara !! As far as I'm concerned, armchair viewers of football should NOT call themselves fans or supporters !!!!
I am proud to stand/sit in the Gecekondu Section of the 19 Mayis Stadium with REAL football fans and in my next article I will give more information on the formation of the Ankaragucu Kankas Club in 1999, which later expanded with the inclusion of our Genclerbirligi brother kankas into the fold, and a name change to the Ankara Kankas Club. The qualifications for entry ? Simple.........a love of Ankaragucu and Genclerbirligi and a deep dislike for the Istanbul 3 !!!!
Hope you enjoyed the `history` lesson ??!! All the best from Eski Kanka Jim