Organising the kankas for the start of the season has not been the easiest. Soaking up the sun on the north Aegean is not the easiest place to find out about the state of the pitch at the 19 Mayis Stadium and whether it would be ready on time for tonight's match.
In part that is thanks to Sir Eski Kanka and Spine who both threw me off the case by saying that there wasn't enough grass on the pitch. This particular red herring even had Dan the Man believing that the reason the stadium lights were on mid-week was that perhaps such intense light might help the grass grow.
Instead it was lighting up the 24-hour work that was going on to lay an artificial pitch (pretty much the same sort of pitch that the Champions League final in Moscow was played on).
So, back in town Sunday afternoon after my short holiday Ertank gave me a call saying that the workers had finished their work and the match wasn't going to be played at Yenikent after all. Much rejoicing.,
And so, a quick e-mail round (and a phone call to Spine who despite being very good with computers can never be relied upon to read a simple e-mail) and we managed to round up a few people for the Chopin pre-match drinks - namely Spine, Dan the Man, Alpine Kanka Wolfgang, Little Alpine Kanka Chris (who really needs a proper non-father dependent moniker), Scouser Kanka Steve, Ertank and Guclu.
Not bad really considering I didn't even know where the match was going to be played until this afternoon.
Beers at the Chopin and then off to the stadium for the 9 p.m. kick-off.
Genclerbirligi 1 - 1 Kocaelispor
What can I say. This was vintage Gencler, the vintage being last year. Plenty of possession but very few real chances. New signing Aussie Bruce got a few shots on goal but they were heading straight to the keeper (an improvement on Isaac Promise who used to send such shots flying towards a THY jet).
The pitch itself looked good though (I'm scraping the barrel here).
Genclerbirligi were the better team in the first half but still were not looking very likely to score. The same problems as last year, no one sending in a good last pass. This may have been because Burhan (our No. 11) was playing up front when his real position is on the wing.
Somehow or other though we managed to score in the 43rd minute (approximately). The goal was a result of various players just on the side of the box trying to get past the defence and finally the ball falling to Burhan who put it away.
Great stuff and the match was on. Unfortunately it was just a minute or so later when Kocaeli scored from a free kick. The kick was taken, our keeper saved it but it went off the post and allowed a Kocaeli player to simply slot it in.
Second half and a few dodgy referee decisions and the typically annoying slow play by an away team clutching onto a draw. It wasn't the best football, both sides had chances, although Genclerbirligi should really have put it beyond doubt. We all rose to our feet thinking Gencler had indeed done so when Aussie Bruce sent a ball in from near the corner, the ball went through two players and into the back of the net only for the linesman to rule it to have been offside.
So 1-1. I guess it could have been worse but it was very clear from the crowd that this was a very frustrating display.
It may very well be a long, long season. Again.