Friday, March 02, 2012

Hooray! Hurriyet Daily News writes about Ankaragucu!

Thanks to Bellshill Kanka aka @AnkaragucuPitch on Twitter, I came across a Hurriyet Daily News article on Ankaragucu.

"No love lost as Ankaragucu's young guns fall short"

Have a read of it and then come back.

First up, I have to applaud the Hurriyet Daily News for actually publishing an article not based on one of the Istanbul teams; but then I cannot this this go without having a swipe.

In the first paragraph of his Istanbul-datelined piece Çetin Cem Yilmaz writes that "few people are feeling sorry for the club that once avoided relagation with the order of a junta leader."

I'm not going to have a go at the spelling mistake, especially as Spine and me used to work at the old version of the paper many years ago and we let many howlers through, but how is it that the club once "avoided relegation with the order of a junta leader"? The fact is that they got promotion, not relegation, and not through an order from a junta leader, but through a rule change from the then version of the TFF (although it is true Kenan Evren said out loud at one stage that he thought an Ankara team should be in the top flight - the then equivalent of the TFF did the rest - more on that later).

Let's have a look at the first part of the sentence: "few people are feeling sorry for the club"

Ugh? Were does this come from? It has been stated again and again in the papers and during the radio broadcasts that I've listened to that at Ankaragucu's away games fans have expressed sympathy for the team's flight. Even us Genclerbirligi fans have supported the club at despite some of the provocations of a small minority of Ankaragucu fans.

I'll admit though, I doubt that many Besiktas fans give a damn. What team do you support Çetin Cem Yilmaz?

The article continues with a review of Ankaragucu's recent on the field failures. No controversy there, but then come a couple of paragraphs that I failed to completely understand.

If not for their famously, or infamously, rowdy fans, not many people felt sorry for Ankaragücü – even through their bitter story – because the team’s recent history has been marred by politics. 

In May 1981, Ankaragücü was awarded promotion after an order by then Chief of General Staff Kenan Evren, who took power through the Sept. 12, 1980, coup. Evren said a team from the republic’s capital city, Ankara, should play in the top-flight, and Ankaragücü was promoted with a sleight of hand – a rule change that a lower-tier side should be promoted to the first division if it wins the domestic cup was enough.

"Rowdy fans" - no argument from me on that one. "Not many people feel sorry for Ankaragucu... because the team's recent history has been marred by politics". Mmm. This sentence in isolation is totally wrong. It is precisely because the team's recent history has been marred by politics that has led to away fans unveiling banners in support of the club. The fact that the politics inside the club has destroyed a great rival is what has brought out sympathy for the true supporters of the club.

These Galatasaray fans seem to have forgotten recent history

But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that Mr. Yilmaz is referring to his next paragraph and the "recent" events of 31 (thirty-one) years ago concerning Kenan Evren.  

Looking at that paragraph I'd like to ask Mr. Yilmaz to actually show us the "order" he says came from Kenan Evren. Was it ever given? We all live in Turkey and we know that these sorts of orders are never given. Suggestions are made and these suggestions are acted upon. The difference is not great, but to say that an actual order was given, as you have in your article, is simply not true. A great paper such as the Hurriyet Daily News should be able to make this distinction clear for its readers. The paper makes these subtle distinctions in its political coverage, why not here?

By the way, I have blogged before about how Boluspor believe they should have won the domestic cup referred to in Mr. Yilmaz's piece.

Anyway, we now continue into proper recent history, and the way that control of Ankaragucu has changed hands. With any history of the recent events of Ankaragucu we have to look at Ankaraspor. Mr Yilmaz writes:

The team’s recent years saw a political power struggle as well, when Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek took over the club in gradual fashion. The former chairman of Ankaraspor, the team funded by the municipality, Gökçek stepped down from duty after a rule change that mayors could not actively work at football clubs and was voted the “honorary president.” 

Careful there Mr. Yilmaz! Saying that Ankaraspor was "funded by the municipality" could well be libellous! It is illegal for municipalities to fund professional football teams and there are court cases happening right now (although they are extremely slow) where the the municipality is accused of sending funds to Ankaraspor. Mr. Gokcek, of course, denies it. I hope he doesn't read your piece because if he does the Hurriyet Daily News could be up for a big legal bill. I hope you've got insurance mate!

Mr. Yilmaz then talks about how Ahmet Gokcek won the congress at Ankaragucu and took over the club and then we get this paragraph:

Former Ankaragücü Chairman Cemal Aydın’s camp, meanwhile, applied to court for the cancelation of the general congress which Ahmet Gökçek won, and eventually was successful. Wealthy Gökçek eventually got his hands off the club, leaving the club in a dire and cash-strapped position, which left it as it is now.   

Errr. Why is the club cash-strapped, Mr Yilmaz? Why are they a dire position? At no stage in your article do you actually explain anything. I'm not denying that the club is in dire straights but it would have been nice for you to actually expand on your statement. For help in the future you might like to look at this article we wrote just a few weeks ago.

We are now coming to the end of Mr. Yilmaz's piece. I'll quote it in full.

Right now, Ankaragücü is not an attraction for potential presidential candidates and might bounce back when it is relegated. But be warned, there might be even more drama coming this way: The newly-elected TFF Chairman Yıldırım Demirören mulls a plan to cancel the relegation for this year as the daily Hürriyet reported yesterday, and Ankaraspor is returning to the league as a result of a court ruling which decided the TFFdid a wrongdoing in demoting the team. 

If things turn out that way, the Ankaragücü followers will be all the more lonely in their cause.

Just read the last sentence again. I have no idea what it means.

Dear Mr. Yilmaz,
Unfortunately on the Hurriyet Daily News website there is a 250 letter limit to any reader comments.
This comment on your piece is obviously more than 250 letters. I'd love it if you would add your comments here.
Oz Kanka

I have e-mailed Mr. Yilmaz a link to this post. Somehow I doubt he will respond. EDIT: I got that wrong as he has responded, see comments below.


  1. ForzaEsEs261:30 am

    The only reason why people started feeling bad for Ankaragucu in the recent weeks is because of Hakan Kutlu coming out and saying they didn't have replacement uniforms after a match where the first half it poured like crazy and second half they came out with soaking uniforms. Then the pictures of the team training in the snow etc...

    This still does not change the fact that most of Gecekondu and Ankaragucu fans supported the Gokcek's till death. What these imbeciles did was spend loads of money that Agucu would never recover from. I'm an Eskisehirspor fan, I don't like Ankaragucu. Don't like their stance towards us in the league, don't like their fans cursing our fans even in games that have nothing to do with us. Kenan Evren did indeed give the veto to Ankaragucu getting relegated because the idiot thought that there should always be a team from the capital, this happened!! you cannot say show me the order it happened that's it! Ankaragucu are going down to where they belong and they will not be back for a while...

  2. Funny, I always thought Ankaragucu was promoted from the second tier because they won the cup because of Evren sticking his nose in football business. As for Oz e-mailing Cetin Cem Yilmaz, an e-mail back from Yilmaz will be as likely as hell freezing over, or this 22 team league for next season that new Turkish football don Yildirim Demiroren apparently proposed.

  3. Dear Forza EsEs,
    I like the moniker!

    You are right. The Gecekondu fans of Ankaragu have been mad in their support of the Gokceks, and that is why there have been heaps of fights in the stadium between the Ankaragucu fans.

    As for your statement about Kenan Evren, I'm afraid you've got it a bit mixed up. He gave a "subtle" order that they be promoted, not "not relegated".

    My point in regards to the order from Kenan Evren is that the Hurriyet Daily News should not say there was an "order" when there wasn't one. I clearly said that Evren implied that there was an order. As I said in the article, we all live in Turkey and we know that if Evren implied that something must happen then it will happen but for a newspaper to say that this was an order is simply wrong.

    As to why the Ankaragucu fans hate Eskisehirspor. Well, we were at the match a few years ago when two Ankaragucu fans got stabbed for apparently having a look at Eskisehir girls. I still don't know the full details of that one.

    But hey, I'm willing to have a beer with you Forza EsEs. Next time Gencler are in your city?

  4. ForzaEsEs264:14 am

    Yes you make valid points about Hurriyet, never liked them or many of the Turkish media outlets for their blatant support of Istanbul clubs and seeing Anadolu clubs as second class citizens.

    The Ankaragucu fans getting stabbed had nothing to do about the match itself as at that point Ankaragucu fans were welcome in Eskisehir to walk as they pleased. But when a few idiots got drunk and started hitting on married women huge fights broke out and unfortunately a couple Ankaragucu fans were stabbed.

    I would love to have a drink with you man but I live in the States.

  5. Anonymous8:21 am

    Actually, Forzaeses26, under the latest draft league plans from the TFF, there is a chance of that beer.

    Under the proposal, Central Anatolian Conference teams (Gencler, Sivas, Karabuk and, Kayseri) will play each other eight times before the top three enter a playoff league with the Black Sea Conference. The third-placed team in that playoff league will enter a play-off with the winners of the southern Azerbaijan league and the winner of that will travel to Chicago to play the top college lacrosse teams.


  6. Anonymous8:42 am

    and yes, Oz, you're right. That's a spectacularly mean-spirited article. It's essentially blaming the team and fans for three things that were totally out of its control.

    First, Ankaragucu were NOT responsible for the 1980 coup and in 1981 no-one was in a position to say no to Evren's whims, however they were expressed. Second, they're not responsible for the Gokcek-Aydin idiocy. And third, they won't be responsible for whatever madness the TFF cooks up next season. If they benefit from whatever happens it'll be accidental, while the intended beneficiaries will surely be from We Know Where.

    Yilmaz adopts a posture deploring "politics in sport" but doesn't look at the real, live politics that's taking place right now at the TFF. Furthermore, as you say, anyone looking to cover A-gucu should be asking why, rather than revelling in unbecoming schadenfreude.


  7. Hats off to to Yilmaz who has replied to the article. Here it is:

    I was aware of your blog for some time but have not been checking to the site recently, so thanks for letting me know about your post.

    First of all, thanks for your interest. Even though at times it got slightly harsh, having that kind of a careful reaction to a piece that you wrote is the best that a journalist can look for.

    I know it is not an excuse, but I was out of the office on Tuesday and sent out the article via e-mail. I don’t know what has happened but I believe there was an editorial decision that the “junta” part was sexier, so they decided to put it on the lede. And I think that is where they messed it up. There are parts in the middle of the article where I clearly write: “In May 1981, Ankaragücü was awarded promotion after an order by then Chief of General Staff Kenan Evren, who took power through the Sept. 12, 1980, coup.” So as you see, the promotion/avoid relegation thing was not something I messed up. Of course, the newspaper is responsible for that, and I regret that error, even if that does belong to me.

    As for Ankaraspor, I am sure you are aware that the club was formed by Ankara Municipality and it was funded by the Büyükşehir until 2005. It is only after 2005 that the Municipality had to take its hands off the club. It can be a little ambiguous there, but I am sure I can defend my case there!

    The general idea of the story was Ankaragücü was relegated in a sorry way and leaving a couple of gestures from rivals’ fans, like Genclerbirligi, Galatasaray or Istanbul BB, who unfurled a really nice banner two weeks ago, calling them “2016 Turkish national team squad.” But there was a deafening silence from the media and the majority football fans toward this very disheartening situation Ankaragücü was in, if not a feeling of “they deserved it.” I think you were too close with the Ankara football scene to see it (fan forums, ekşi sözlük or social media would help). And I wanted to shed a light on where this anger comes from.

    I want to finish with what entertained my most in your post: The first was your presumption that I would not write a reply, I can’t see why I would not? And secondly, your and your commenters’ assumption that I was looking down on the Anatolian football. We are a minor newspaper in a part of a major media group so if I can count Hürriyet Daily News as a part of the mainstream media, I can proudly say this is the ONLY mainstream news outlet that can make a full two-page sport section without mentioning the names of Galatasaray, Besiktas and Fenerbahce. When I write positively about a team, I am stamped as a team of that team, and as in this article’s case, I am labelled a “hater.”

    I want to link you to an article I wrote, which might help you to label me as a “Byzantine hater”

    Çetin Cem Yılmaz

  8. Thank you Cem. I take back almost everything I wrote above.


  9. Anonymous1:15 pm

    Forzaeses - You have a cheek coming on here and bad mouthing Ankaragucu fans, after all the reason your moronic fans cant travel to the weekends game is due to stabbing, yes thats right stabbing Ankaragucu fans. And your fairytale story about Ankaragucu fans hitting on married women, is what you call here back in Scotland a pile of shite. Singing bad songs wont kill anyone, but Knifes will.

    OZKanka - Excellent post, i noticed some of Yilmaz comments been strange but you have picked the story apart, well done. And well done to Yilmaz for replying.

  10. Anonymous1:16 pm

    last post by nadeem

  11. Not much more to be said on this, but please allow me a few pennies-worth !

    I too was in Eskisehir with Oz Kanka when these unfortunate stabbings took place, and quite frankly, I agree with Nadeem that bringing out weapons is not the answer to arguments.

    We are not privy to the details of the actual incident which can only be verified by the Eskisehir Police, so any conjecture on this subject is going to have two stories depending on which team you support.

    The bottom line though is that the Gecikondu Tribune will harbour this and wait for their moment of revenge. Of this you can be sure.

    As for the comments about Kenan Evren, I have to say I don't like the tone used by all of you when mentioning his involvement in Ankaragucu affairs in the past.

    Perhaps I should point out that I was here in Turkey from 1979 to 1982 in an official capacity and I, along with many of my colleagues (in the know) welcomed his intervention in September 1980 to stop the political, terrorism and economic chaos which was Turkey at that time.

    However, leaving politics aside, I was assured by football fanatics at the time, and since, that the reason he stepped in to (using Oz Kanka's word .... in a 'subtle' way) suggest Ankaragucu should be promoted was purely because Ankaragucu would be representing Turkey in the European Cup Winners Cup the following season and he didn't consider it was good for Turkey's image in Europe to be represented by a 2nd Division team. It was nothing to do with the fact that he wanted a Capital City team in the Super League !

    Rant over.

    Now, looking to the future, I think Oz Kanka is probably thinking of inviting Mr Yilmaz to be interviewed on this Blog/Web Site ??!!

  12. Excellent post, excellent comments. Chris, Spine & Co. have upped the bar in 2012.

  13. Ata Dizdar's weekly football podcast mentions the debate on the blog. I've only just started listening, so I have no idea what he says. Listen in:

  14. I'm surprised Yilmaz actually responded to you Oz. I'm wondering if he's aware of the podcast. He's invited to come on and maybe Gareth can skewer him a bit. For the Ankaragucu stuff and a bunch of other things.

    By the way, I'd have to let Gareth talk to you. Hopefully he'll be able to record something with you that take into account your darts nights. ;)

    1. Mr Dizdar and Mr Llewellyn-Stevens,
      I once downloaded the podcast some time last year, I was familiar with it. I listened to the bit where you were "skewering" my article :)

      I think Mr. Wade's points were fair from his stance but I am still standing firm on my corner. I am willing to listen to any opinions with respect. I still regret the bad "relegation" error on the opening paragraph, which I do not own, but I have to take it, that's fair. On the second note, I am aware of Ankaraspor's situation and I am old enough to know about the situation before a law in 2009 ruled against Municipalities to fund professional football clubs.

      And finally, as much as I had sympathy for the Ankaragücü team this season, there is an undeniable prejudice toward the club in the football scene. I am constantly in stadiums, fan forums and social media. It was right there. You may find my article harsh, but it was only a fair reflection of the general fan feeling toward Ankaragücü.

      So much for the "ripping the article" apart thingy.

      I would like to talk to you guys about football, and other stuff. But for now, I think it is fair to close the subject.

      Cetin Cem
      (I could not find your e-mail addresses so I had to post my reply here. Sorry, Oz Kanka & co)

  15. nice how you forgot to mention the stabbing of Ankaragucu fans, or was that just unfortunate to ?

    Everyone is entitled to there opinions, but dont expect any hospitality when you come on to an Ankaragucu blog and try and slag us off, and as for eveyone not liking us, well there may be a number who dont like us, that is football, but we will remember the tributes by Genclerbirligi, Kayriyaka, Galatasaray, Bursaspor and Atletico Madrid to name a few.