Greetings Kankas. As most of you know, I was a Class 1 Footie Referee in a previous lifetime. After a serious right foot injury while playing an RAF match in 1972, I took up the whistle to stay in footie. I refereed in the Berkshire League, Rothmans Hellenic League, the old Southern League and the Premier Leagues Youth Teams league until a posting to Cyprus interrupted my progress further.
The year was 1977 and the league was the (Greek) Cyprus League Division 1. Cyprus TV were entering the 20th Century `at last` and had decided to screen `LIVE` footie to their footie fanatik population.
Previously, Cyprus TV showed editted highlights of matches which was fine, but to have `LIVE` footie was something which was a `long time coming` to Cyprus. It was decided that the first `historic` match would be the local Nicosia derby between Omonia (the Real Madrid of Nicosia) and Apoel (the Atletico Madrid of Nicosia). The problem was..........
who was going to officiate the match ??!!
In those days, match rigging and inducements were rife (has anything changed I wonder ??!!) and so it was decided that the referees would be British (they trusted our integrity !!!). There were only four British Class 1 Referees appointed to the league and usually we officiated at `difficult` or `possible controversial` matches. So, it turned out that yours truly was apointed as a Linesman for this match, and in all honesty I suppose it was the highlight of my refereeing career.
All of Cyprus (and all of our friends at the Air Base) were tuned-in for this one, which was, as I said before, a technical leap forward for Cyprus TV.
Pre-match nerves were obvious in the Referees Changing Room. The referee (an English RAF colleague) was literally shitting himself and the smell in that room was unbearable !!! I was outside in the tunnel escaping from the `aroma` and also soaking up the atmosphere ! The Stadium was full to its 30,000 capacity, but unlike modern stadiums, the crowd was almost on the pitch with only a high wire fence to protect the players and...... ME !!
I honestly can't remember the final score - was it really important anyway ??!! I do, however, remember missiles (plastic variety) coming down in my direction, and seething hostility through the wire mess from supporters when I gave a `wrong` decision !! Apart from the pre-match nerves and the sheer awe inspiring nature of the match, it was an experience which will live with me forever.
Not only for the historic moment, but to have been part of the progress of Cyprus footie. You only have to check out the statistics and you can see for yourself how far they have progressed since those days.
For example, remember the UEFA Cup this season when the Black Sea `Storm` of Trabzon took on Anorthosis in the UEFA Cup ?? I remember refereeing Anorthosis a few times when they were the `new boys` from Larnaca and just happy to be in the 1st Division. Trabzon now understand that footie is progressing in most European countries, even Cyprus !!!
Also, remember a few years back when Panathanaikos reached the European Cup Final and everyone said.... Pana...who ??? Maybe Omonia in the future ??? Who knows ???
As for the `backbone` of every team...........the supporters. I still think that ANKARAGUCU supporters are the best in the world !!!
All the best from Historic... oooops.... no.... I mean.... Eski Kanka Jim