But there's nothing so lonesome so morbid or drear
Than to stand in a bar of a pub with no beer.
So sang Slim Dusty, Australia's third greatest singer (Kylie is number one followed by Rolf Harris). Slim could have changed the last line to be:
Than to watch Genclerbirligi without any beer
It was a very depressed Oz Kanka who headed off to the Ankaraspor - Genclerbirligi match this morning. I say morning because I had to get up early just to be able to make the 2 p.m. kick-off. May I suggest that if you haven't already done so read the post I put on the blog this morning to get the background to this truly away match (no doubt right below this one if Sir Eski Kanka hasn't got in with his report of the Ankaragucu match already).
So into the Renault Clio and Flying Dutchman Kanka Carlo and myself headed off for a long, long journey. Found the big ekmek sign on the road to Istanbul and veered off. We were still ages away from the stadium but from this point on it was easy. It was something I had never experienced before in Turkey - nice big signs pointing the way to somewhere I wanted to go.
As there wasn't all that much traffic the journey only took us an hour and Flying Dutchman and myself were looking forward to a cup of tea... not much chance of a beer out there in true AKP territory. I also needed another pack of cigarettes.
Arrive at the stadium to find absolutely nothing. Not a single bakkal or tea house. This was truly the back of beyond. Nice setting though with the mountains in the background and the stadium surrounded by farms. But I do wonder if this is the sort of place for a stadium for a capital that Gokcek keeps on going on about as a true European city.
PHOTOCAPTION: A blurred photo taken in the car which gives you an idea of just how isolated the stadium is. By the way, the stadium is the thing in the middle.
Anyway, got our tickets from a hole in the wall (literally - by the way Carlo thanks a lot for getting my ticket, I owe you 50 kuruş, or 70 US cents) and made our way inside. Being a rural area the stadium wasn't patrolled by police but by gendarmes who are lot more professional.
Sitting around in the stadium and actually I was quite impressed. Everything seemed quite new (it has recently been refurbished by Gokcek) and there were lots of urinals in the toilets which weren't even smelly. Even so this didn't stop our fans from screaming out "Gokcek istifa!"
PHOTOCAPTION: A few Gencler supporters before the main bus loads arrived.
Finally on to the match.
Ankaraspor 1 - Genclerbirligi 2
Gencler started off pretty badly with Ankaraspor making some promising attacks. In fact we could have been down 1-0 after just a few minutes but for an absolute blinder of a save from Recep (Jesus seems to have gone AWOL).
Mehmet Cakir somehow managed to send an absolute sitter over the bar a few minutes later but that seemed to spur Gencler on.
Engin made a terrific run by himself on the right (our right - we were behind the goals) and after finally hearing Flying Dutchman Kanka screaming "go for it yourself" for a few minutes, had a go which was saved wonderfully by the Ankaraspor keeper.
Although we had had the better shots it seemed as if Ankaraspor were playing better as a team, they were passing it out wide well and in some instances our defenders were not rushing them, giving them plenty of time to set up attacks. Our last line of defenders and the keeper had a bit too much work for my liking.
Then came the attack that shut up all of Gokcek's supporters who were bussed in for the match. After a nice piece of work we won a corner on the right. Mehmet Cakir sent in a beauty to the far post where Okan Ozturk climbed and headed down, as all forwards are taught to do. The angle was too difficult for their keeper and we found ourselves one up. Much joy and jubilation amongst the 3,000 or so Gencler fans at the match.
Half time and all was looking well. We seemed to have calmed down after the first few minutes of rubbish and were clearly threatening the goal more than Ankaraspor. Having said that the referee was clearly an AKP voter and gave them freekicks whenever the wind managed to blow over an Ankaraspor player.
Second half and we started off well. A few good attacks and chances on goal and then the most amazing thing I have ever seen happened. Yep, Isaac Promise scored for Genclerbirligi.
It was the end of a brilliant set of play from Gencler and all Isaac had to do was tip the ball in but as we have seen him miss these so many times before (and as we were to see later in the match) we didn't hold our breath. But hey, he got it in and we were 2-0 up. Happy days indeed.
Now for the nerves. Ankaraspor clearly upped the tempo. We were playing great counterattacking football, the sort which we are often very good at. But the goals wouldn't come. (see above comment about Isaac).
Then I was watching how thousands of Ankaraspor "supporters" were leaving the ground. I was amazed as there was still another 20 minutes or so of play left in the match. It wasn't as if they all had a plane to catch... and bam... somehow or other, Ankaraspor scored.
Then for the really nailbiting stuff. The ref was in full pro-Ankaraspor mode (although I have to admit one of the linesmen was deinitely a true secularist) and except for some fine goalkeeping and last minute tackles Ankaraspor could have equalised. At the same time though if some of our players up front had have been on true form we could have gone further ahead.
Whistle blows and we are over the moon. An hour's journey back to Kizilay were we dropped into Buyuk Express for my first beer of the day. I mentioned to some of the Gencler fans whom we joined at the pub that it was the first time I had ever been to a match without having had a beer first. As we had won they tried to make me promise not to have a beer before next week's match as well. My reply, in English, was of course "bugger off".
Some interesting things I noted today.
The Yenikent Stadium may be a million miles from anywhere but Gokcek almost got it filled. I was told the capacity is 20,000, and if that is the case I would say the crowd was around 17,000. Not too bad for a match that in normal circumstances would get about 5,000, if that. Now, for what is a first for me, and will probably be the last, I'm going to give Gokcek some praise.
Ankaraspor has a natural fan base of about 13 people. To get 17,000 or so people along to an Ankaraspor match you have to do something special.
First up, of course, was the extremely low price of the tickets. In fact even though they were so cheap many many people managed to get in for free.
Second was the free buses to get people to the stadium.
Third was the promise of a free Ankaraspor shirt for everyone sitting in the Ankaraspor ends (ie all but our section behind the goals) and then they handed out to their supporters footballs at the end of the match. Lucky they did this at the end or else there could have been chaos during the match.
Fourthly, they advertised like mad in the areas near the stadium and they clearly aimed this advertising at not just the typical football supporter but at the kiddies. Turkish football is a pretty male-dominated affair when it comes to the spectators and so it was great to see so many families at the match. Kiddies are extremely impressionable and I'm sure many of them having been to their first top-flight match are at home tonight wearing their Ankaraspor top, kicking the ball with their brothers or sisters and swearing at the TV for not yet having the highlights of what was a good game of football and a great day out.
Those kiddies may well pressure their dads' to get them along to the next match. They may even resist the pressure to support one of the Big 3 Istanbul clubs.
Gokcek is clearly a skillful politician. Cavcav and Aydin should have a look at what happened today and try and learn something. They won't of course because they are both fools.
The other interesting thing I learnt today is that although gendarmes are extremely professional (they even found Flying Dutchman's hoard of coins that the police at 19 Mayis had never managed to find) they are all male. Therefore there is no one to frisk the girls. Lesson, when we next head out to Yenikent we must take a girl along to carry our coins, lighters, flares, guns etc.
All up, I went in an angry mood but actually had a great day out.