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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Semester Abroad in Istanbul: Galatasary vs Fernerbache - Page 3

Written by John David Charlton
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The Galatasaray fans were limited in what they could throw at the Fernerbache players, as police confiscated any items deemed dangerous to throw from those entering the stadium (despite the fact I had no intention of throwing good money away, much to my dismay, I had about ten Liras’ worth of loose change confiscated). As the game progressed the tenacity increased, and when Roberto Carlos chose to act out the most lamentable dive I have ever witnessed—he must have completed close to ten rolls before holding his left knee—in front of the Galatasaray fans the atmosphere, game, everything became frantic. 


It’s safe to state that our seats were precariously positioned. Wedged between unstable Turkish police, seriously outnumbered Fernerbache followers and fanatical Galatasary fans all in a stadium holding seemingly twice the allowed capacity;  it was intense. Alongside a sizeable line of police in riot gear, the Fernerbache faithful were also protected by netting which sported a hole no more than a couple of inches wide. Some friendly Galatasaray fans chose to spend the entire game throwing anything they could (mostly lighters) to get through the hole. One gentleman succeeded, with the lighter in question narrowly missing one goading Fernerbache fan, who, on the odd occasion, would bravely stick his head by the hole. Others, more optimistically, began ripping up plastic seats to throw. Being close to the Fernerbache end myself, it was something I privately took exception to. 

As the game drew to a close, it was clear neither team looked like winning, and with this both sides chances of lifting the title began to evaporate. I can only guess that because of this both sets of players decided to kick the Turkish delight out of each other in the final few minutes. Consequently four players were sent off. The chaos at the end of the game on the pitch transferred into the stands, and as such the Police decided to make tactical charges towards the fans whilst firing what I hope were rubber bullets in the air. With the final whistle being blown, I took this as a sign to leave before I lost the chance to do so.

The game was one of the last derbies to be played at The Ali Sami Yen aka ‘Hell’ Stadium. The Club now resides at the more corporate friendly New Turk Telecom Arena, though fans refer to it as the Aslantepe “Lion Hill” stadium (named after the district it’s situated in). Although the environment throughout the game was intense, the safety measures appeared more controlled than I expected. I drew the impression that the days of seriously dangerous derbies were left in the 1990’s and that the powers that be were doing a good job to limit the dangers inside. As recent news reports illustrate, however, what happens outside the stadium is, of course, a different matter altogether. 

©John David Charlton

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012
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