It is the middle of summer, 30-something degrees in Ankara, the middle of Ramadan, the world is holding its sports day in London - so what the hell are we doing playing football?
Genclerbirligi 1 - 1 Karbukspor
(Penalty shootout: Genclerbirligi 4 - 2 Karabuk)
A good old suburban stadium just minutes stroll through Kurtulus Park to Kizilay.
A lovely Friday afternoon in the Beer Bus; just me, Efes and the paper (Spine forgot to show up) and then off to the stadium. Not the 19 Mayis but the Cebeci Inonu Stad. Like the 19 Mayis, the Cebeci Stad was built back in the middle ages and hasn't had any work done to it since. There were seats where we were but for most of the stadium it is standing only with only metal bars to stop people from crushing each other, much like the terraces of old.
A few hundred Gencler fans and a few Karabuk fans as well were there for the Ankara Sportswriters Cup. Just to give them a kick when they are already down the Sportswriters decided not to invite Ankaragucu to this traditional pre-season competition. Disgraceful. At the very least they could have invited them for the completely cynical reason that they would have got a lot more people through the turnstyles.
Match was on and well... rusty might be the word for it. Karabuk were rubbish and we weren't much better. We were attacking though and once they get into the swing of things we will probably end up with a team that will finish about ninth on the table.
Hursut Meric was captain for the day and it was he who scored the first goal in the 23rd. We could have had a couple more but for some bad luck and some crappy non-attempts on goal... if you have a chance boys - take a bloody shot.
Karabuk came back not long later with a decent header that Ramazan had no chance of getting. All up Ramazan had a good match, not just during the penalty shootout.
It was all a bit of a laugh really with neither side really going for it and the fans not really caring either. It was more of a chance to catch up with people whom I only ever see at the stadium.
It did give us a chance though to watch some of the new players. Serbian fellow Lekich up front was a bit slow but did get some decent headers (are we going to rue getting rid of Herve Tum?) and his fellow countryman Tosich seemed okay at the back... venturing forward at times which scared the opposition. The new Turkish players in the middle seemed okay, I guess, but the new player I'll be looking forward to seeing a lot more of is Jimmy Durmaz, a Swedish fellow who came on in the second half on the left wing. He is creative and is always looking for some weird way around a defender, much like Hursut.
It finished 1-1 and off we went to penalties. I'll just give the results
Hursut - miss 0-0
Karabuk - miss 0-0
Lekich - goal 1-0
Karabuk - goal 1-1
Azofeifa - goal 2-1
Karabuk - miss 2-1
Zec - goal 3-1
Karabuk - goal 3-2
Jimmy - goal 4-2
It it was all fun and then we walked to Kizilay for some beers. I didn't recognise one of the fans after he said that we had met in my place while I was selling my flat in Istanbul to someone called Murat. As I always do in these situations I just pretended that I remembered him and we continued talking. About 30 minutes later he realised that he had never met me before in his life and that in fact the person he had remembered was Spine. Weird.
UPDATE: In late news, Genclerbirligi have taken the Ankara Sportswriters Cup after defeating Sivas 7-1 on Saturday evening. The spectators then decided to stay at the stadium as the thunderstorm hit. No further reports from the match are to be published here.