Genclerbirligi 1 - 0 Ankaragucu
This has been by far the worse season Genclerbirligi have had since I started watching them in about 1998. So it was with trepidation that I went off to the match today. A loss and morale in the team would hit rock bottom and our chances of getting out of the relegation zone dashed.
But my wishes were granted.
Instead of the usual dross we have seen this season we saw a Genclerbirligi team come out attacking. We were stringing passes together and while there weren't all that many shots on goal we were definitely looking good.
But I'm getting ahead of myself a little. The Chopin Bar was were we met and it was good to see the regular Gencler Kankas in attendance. I think I counted 12 of us, and one lone Ankaragucu fan, Goalkeeper Tansu. Really, I took my hat off to the Ankaragucu Kankas last week who managed to get 30-odd people together but supporting a team is not about one offs, it is about going to all the matches, week in, week out.
Off to the stadium and Tansu made the lonely trek off to the away end and we found our places in Maraton.
Kick off and Genclerbirligi were all over the Ankaragucu lot. The singing from the Ankaragucu away end was impressive but we also tried to make some noise. That noise got a whole lot louder in about the 20th minute when Burhan took a pass down the right (it looked offside to me), he passed it into the penalty area where Isaac Promise had a go, Ankaragucu's keeper Serkan managed to stop the shot but it fell once again to Mr. Promise who this time made no mistake. It was a goal mouth scramble which was probably set up from an offside position, but were we complaining. No way.
The Ankaragucu fans immediately started singing even louder to try and lift their team but it was to no avail. The rest of the half was ours and our new keeper Recep is clearly a lot better than Jesus.
Half time and 1-0 up and we were pretty happy. Second half though was a different matter.
Ankaragucu were clearly told to go on the attack (and our lot were clearly looking to save the lead). A few times we put together some lovely strings of passes but I'm not sure we tested their keeper much at all.
Then things got really scary towards the end. In the 76th minute our defender Traore was sent off for what to me looked like absolutely nothing. Afterwards Maniac Kanka Harun told me he reckoned it was a clear red. But the point was we were down a man for the last 15 minutes or so. A quick substitution as Okan Ozturk came off so that defender Mr. Fish Grape could come on. It was hearts in mouths times. Ankaragucu played full on attack. Our keeper was kept as busy as a human rights lawyer and the referee continued to make stupid mistakes.
When I say mistakes, these weren't absolute match-turners but they were as clear as day stuff: mistakes on throw ins, offsides, and much earlier in the match he probably should have sent off Our No. 38, Engin, for a kick on Kirita.
It was scary stuff, especially when an Ankaragucu player was about five metres from the goal and still managed to send his shot over the bar.
The last 10 minutes seemed like an eternity but the referee finally blew his whistle. Phew!
Match over and things started getting interesting. Us Genclerbirligi fans were singing away and applauding our team when we noticed that fights had broken out in the away section.
The vast majority of the Ankaragucu fans were chanting for Chairman Cemal Aydin to resign, punches were being thrown, chairs were being smashed and thrown onto the pitch and one bloke got stretchered off to hospital.
After heading off to the Capadokia Bar to say "gecmis olsun" to Maniac Kanka Harun, Rip Off Kanka Erman and Goalkeeper Tansu we found out that the fight was actually between supporters of Aydin and the true fans of the club.
Coming for the next few weeks Ankaragucu have got matches against Trabzon, Fener and Sivas. Not looking good.
As for Genclerbirligi, today's win could well be a turning point. We played well, got the three points and showed we are not the sort of team that should be relegated. Just how important was today's match? The players at the end celebrated as if we had won the league itself... and I have to admit, I was pretty damn happy too.
PS: I have subsequently found that I'm not as happy as Spine who today saw Gencler win and then shouted to the moon as Manchester City beat United and then watched England beat Italy in the rugby. As opposed to Sir Eski Kanka who lost 2-0 to Sarah in the darts on Thursday, watched Scotland lose to Wales in the rugby and then suffered Genclerbirligi's defeat of his beloved Ankaragucu. There is a great German word for what I'm feeling, but I have no idea how to spell it.
EDIT: News reports of the post match press conferences are in. Mesut Baykal of Genclerbirligi said all the cliches that you would expect and then Ankaragucu's Hakan Kutlu gave a 30-second press conference in which he said nothing much except to apologize to the fans.