Greetings Kankas and Kankies.
Its sometimes a good thing to reflect on the brief history of The Kanka Group and how it has managed to survive despite the comings and goings (mostly goings) of its members.
The history of Ankaragucu is 105 years old, but The Kanka Group is only 16 years old. That The Kanka Group has survived for so long never fails to amaze me since it was founded by foreigners in Ankara, although that has never been a pre-requisite of membership. We have always welcomed Turkish footie fanatics to the group and that is still the case. Long may that continue !
The early and heady days of The Kanka Group may be a dim memory for some, but in those days the Ankaragucu team was a team which was heading in the right direction, especially when Ersun Yanal was the Coach.
One of the most memorable matches I attended at this time was the Play-Off between the two losing Cup Semi-Finalists (Ankaragucu and Sakaryaspor) to decide which of them would represent Turkey in the UEFA Cup the following season. The match was held in the Izmir Ataturk Stadium and I made the journey there by overnight train – an unforgetable journey of 14 hours ! It was a midweek evening KO and only a quarter of the Stadium was used, but as you would expect, it was full of Ankaragucu supporters with only a handful of Sakarya supporters.
In one of the best performances I have ever seen from an Ankaragucu team, they triumphed 5-0 and I ended up in Kirbris Sokak in downtown Izmir to celebrate with a load of Ankaragucu supporters who I had never met before !
The following season, Ankaragucu eliminated an Iceland team in the 1st Round and then drew Atletico Madrid in the 2nd Round. Unfortunately, Ankaragucu conceded 3 late goals in the 1st Leg in Madrid, but pride was restored in Ankara in the 2nd Leg which Ankaragucu won 1-0. This match was definitely the best performance I have ever seen from an Ankaragucu team, and but for some resolute defending by Atletico, it could have been another glory night for Ankaragucu.
The names of the players in that era just roll off the tongue ..... Zalad, Kutlu, Yilmaz, Niyazi, Augustine, Kennedy and Keles to name but a few !
In those days The Kanka Group met in the Sahil Restaurant/Pub in Genclik Park and these pre and post match meetings there were another factor in the popularity of the group and how it grew in numbers.
It was also due to Maniac Kanka Harun introducing us to the Bilkent Connection which swelled our numbers even further in those days. Thanks to Kircaldy Kanka Martin Maguire, and later, Mountaineering Kanka Robbie Peters, the group had lots of recruits from the foreign Bilkent teachers.
I won’t go into the demise of Ankaragucu which is well documented in the Blog from the time Chairman Cemal Aydin was ousted and the Gokceks arrival. Suffice to say that it has been a downhill journey for the Club ever since Ahment Gokcek’s tenure as Chairman.
I can probably pinpoint the beginning of that downfall with the last piece of silverware won by Ankaragucu on 14 August 2011 at The Saray Sports complex when Ankaragucu beat Mersin in the final of the TRT Cup. That summer the financial irregularites became known and the ‘leaves began to fall off the tree’ !!!
Another defining moment for The Kanka Group was the reconsturction of Genclik Park and the closure of our meeting place, The Sahil. We then moved to The Chopin Bar in Kizilay which has remained as our favoured meeting place to this day.
The Kanka Group may be a shadow of its former self in terms of numbers, but it is still famous in the Stadium and well know to the other tribunes.
As I’ve always said .............. you can take Ankaragucu out of the Super League and PTT League, but ............. you can’t take Ankaragucu out of the Kankas. That is sometimes referred to as .............. LOYALTY !
I should also mention Oz Kanka Chris, who as the Blog Webmaster, was responsible for the idea of starting the Blog 10 years ago to report on Ankaragucu and Genclerbirligi matches and news. The fact that Google puts our Blog first in searches in English on Ankara footie related subjects speaks volumes.
Bellshill Kanka Nadeem’s contribution to the Blog should also be mentioned. His regular reports have further enhanced the standing of the Blog and has been responbsible for footie fanatics coming to Ankara in finding a source of contact.
These are currently difficult days for the Ankaragucu Kankas as Ankaragucu endeavour to extricate themselves from their present financial plight. However, we remain commited to supporting the team and we will coninue to report on matches and news on this Blog for as long as it takes.
Haydi Ankaragucu, and .............. long live The Kanka Group !
All the best from a nostalgic Eski Kanka Jim