Saturday, April 26, 2008

Istanbul April 2008

There was rain in Istanbul and cool temperatures in a kind of role-reversal with the UK.

From early Sunday the Galatasaray scarves are prominent - the big Derby game is getting closer and as is often the case the victor almost certainly wins the league.

This time I stay in the Taksim area and it is slightly different from Sultanahmet since there are less tourists and more locals though the restaurant/bar touts are still very active.

In the evening the main streets are thronged with locals marching up and down. Despite the cool and sometimes damp conditions the (male) locals keep to their characteristic suit jacket and trousers.

Before the main event ....

Kasimpasa v Ankaragucu in the Super League

Just a short walk from the Taksim square area is the stadium of Kasimpasa, currently last in the league.
Ankaragucu start well , scoring first but lowly Kasimpasa reply with two quick goals and at times display some good passing. But the away team do get an equaliser in the 2nd half.
Near the end there is impressive fan action by the Ankaragucu support as they form a square around the perimeter of their section and chant their songs.
Maybe 800 watched - Kasimpasa are a team with some support but tiny compared to the big three in this city (Gala, Fener and Besiktas)

Kartalspor v Kocaelispor

In a shared minibus it takes about an hour from Kadikoy (on the Asian side) - at least the way I went - to get to Kartal .
Your correspondent arrived just 10 minutes before the start -typically finding the ground near a large group of police.
This second level game had plenty of interest for the away team as they were third before kick off. They brought some 200/300 fans not all of which made it inside the stadium.

After some initial fighting with the police they settled down to enjoy their team take a 2 goal lead. Kartalspor only getting a consolation near the end. As can happen in Turkey there were a good size group of fans watching from raised ground outside the stadium - some of these turned out to be away fans giving those inside the opportunity to indulge in some 'counter-chanting' to their fellow ultras outside.

A taxi from Asia (Kartal) to Europe (Sisli) took only 35 minutes or so.

Time enough for a kebab and to sample the atmosphere around the Ali Sami Yen stadium.

The rain doesn't matter to Galatasaray fans - only beating fierce rivals Fenerbahce.

The Taksim area had been getting busier and filling up with yellow & red but around the stadium there is another level of intensity.

Galatasaray 1 Fenerbahce 0

the noise, the chanting, the intensity...

A typical derby game - not much flowing football and won following a mistake between goalie and defender.
Galatasaray go three points clear with two games to go - it should be enough to win the title.
Against a Fenerbahce team showing a bunch of De Souzas, a frustrating Kezman and Kazim Kazim (Richards) who is generally lost amongst the frenzy.

Though better at Fener , in a larger stadium that holds in the atmosphere, this game means so much to those involved. Illustrated by the number of fans waiting outside to join in the celebrations and by those around Taksim square plus numerous others throughout the country.

Istanbul - the history, the crowds, the ferry boats, the mosques.

It's a place that draws you back - for the football and to discover more about the history & the culture.

More Starbucks than i remember
- caipirinha count is zero however Raki count = 6.

more pics at

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