It was a happy coincidence that Phillie Kanka and I were in Istanbul for our friend Andy's 30th birthday on the same weekend as the Ankaragücü-Galatasaray match. How great it would be, we thought at the time, if we could witness another stunning upset of Cimbon, but this time in its own backyard.
With high hopes in mind, we each forked over 45TL for a ticket and made our way to Mecidiyeköy for what would inevitably be an eventful affair. Unfortunately, Ankaragücü was on the opposite side of the blowout this time, a performance that surely ranks amongst the most disheartening I've seen in my time supporting this club.
Galatasaray 3 - Ankaragücü 0
Outside the stadium, Phillie Kanka and I felt as if we were spies dropped deep into enemy territory, stealthily making our way to the visitor's kale through the mobs of orange-and-yellow-clad supporters.
We often joke on this blog about the deteriorating condition of 19 Mayis or hellish location of Yenikent, but let it be known to all that Ali Sami Yen takes the cake. The place is an absolute shithole. Our entrance at the back of the stadium went through something akin to a refugee camp, complete with dilapidated tin shacks and piles of burning tires.
Unsurprisingly, Ankaragücü graffiti was present on nearly every building. When inside, we were greeted with a steel deathtrap. Think of the seating prevalent in UK stadiums during the 70s and 80s, the same enclosed-on-all-sides design that led to scores of deaths on several tragic occasions, and that's what we were sitting in for Sunday's match.
Ankaragücü supporters came out in impressive numbers. The visitor's section was about 85 percent full, a definite accomplishment given the exorbitantly high ticket price.
Although the cost kept out many of the unemployed and unemployable in our lot, the crowd in attendance wasn't the smallest bit docile and put on a show with their typical unadulterated enthusiasm. Chants of "Ankaragücü: we will fuck you" echoed throughout the stadium well before kickoff. Someday Turkish football will become a family affair, but I suspect our supporters will not be overly amendable to that process.
Eski Kanka's initial report from last night aptly summarizes match: zero shots on goal and lots of hapless ball movement in the middle of the field. Vassell had a few runs that appeared promising from a distance, but failed to yield a substantive chance.
I wouldn't characterize Galatasaray's performance as anything remarkable, but they created numerous opportunities and capitalized on them. Such is the hallmark of a championship-caliber team.
The best action for much of the match was found in the stands. After the second goal, our supporters became quite vocal in declaring what I believe would be translated as "Galatasaray, you will not be champions," then followed by cheers in support of Bursaspor.
This agitated Cinbon to no end. At one point, a lone Galatasaray supporter near the visitor's section stood and yelled something offensive enough to prompt at least fifty fans to rabidly start shaking the fence and climbing up after him. The fellow sat down rather quickly.
Bedlam continued at half time when a group of rather ingenious supporters managed to smash open the gate between the home and away sections, only to be forced back by the riot police. In true Ankaragücü fashion, this led to a barrage of dislodged seats. The half-time catharsis settled the crowd a bit, and spirited chants continued throughout the second half despite impending defeat.
With the loss to Galatasaray, Ankaragücü stands five points out of relegation. This is a reasonable buffer given the current troubles that have fallen upon Diyarbakırspor. But I think all of us have been hoping for something more than the mere avoidance of complete and total disaster.
With all the the talent that has been acquired over the past months, it's deeply frustrating to see Ankaragücü languishing at the bottom of the table. Some improvement at next week's home match against Kayseri will be a good indication of our prospects for the rest of the season.