Monday, September 29, 2008

More Pictures from Cambridge City v Worthing





Note on photos top to bottom:
The travelling Worthing fans.
Worthing on the attack.
View of the main stand from behind the goal

Victorian Dad and the XL Matchday Mascot





Now I have to be careful here, as I believe that there is no such thing as a good place or bad place, but that your experiences shape the way you view a place. It is especially disappointing when you go to a place you are looking forward to and then find out that it doesn't live up to your expectations. Cambridge City's City Ground on Milton Road was one of these places. I was expecting a happy and friendly community focused club, but what I found was a miserable bunch of bastards.

On the plus side the ground is fairly attractive and easy to get to as the bus to Ely stops outside the ground, the game was fairly open and City could feel hard done by that they didn't manage to win the game, as they had oodles of chances and the only real chance Worthing had was the penalty that they put away. The players were all sporting despite Worthing, who have the nickname 'the Rebels' having participated in the game with a record number of red cards in the previous week. On the other hand an experienced and ageing Cambridge City side should really have finished off a very young Worthing side who had obviously been shipped in to deal with the injuries and suspensions they were suffering from.

In fact perhaps age is the overiding problem at this club. First of all, and I'm not knocking the bloke involved, but the mascot was a geezer of late middle age, now if you can't get kids in for this or you're taking the place of a kid then a club that already seems to be on its knees has a very limited future. In fact at the game apart from my own family I saw one old lady with her granddaughter, and Victorian Dad with his son. Even the 'ballboys' seemed to be middleaged blokes. Any other families at the game were wearing Worthing shirts. Even the panda mascot didn't seem interested in anything other than having a kick around with the outsize mascot and speaking to commitee members from either club, and he disappeared as soon as the game started. It also should be remembered that to join the junior club of Cambridge City costs £30 and offers roughly the same benefits to kids as joining the Cambridge United Juniors (that's their local neighbours who play 2 levels higher) who charge £0. Not the best way to get the kids in is it? Mind you with parents like Victorian Dad around it would appear that they don't want kids involved.

Victorian Dad plumped himself down near us in the stand with his son who was about 8 just before kick off. He was one of those blokes who looked a little bit old for having a young son and was dressed like he had more money than brain cells. Not that I would usually have paid any notice to this fact. He informed his mates that his son, who was almost falling asleep was pretty tired because he had been caddying for him on the golf course all morning. After being forced to do that and then being told to sit quietly at a football match he will probably develop a phobia of spherical objects. However none of that is any of my business. What is my business is the fact that he was rude to my wife and 5 year old daughter. While I was standing at the front he informed them that they 'weren't the type of supporter this club wanted'. I don't know why. It might have been that my daughter was being boisterous or was maybe racist as they were speaking in Russian. Luckily I didn't find this out until after we had returned to Ely otherwise I would probably have spent the evening in a cell.

I'm starting to think that like a few other clubs who have been through some hard times they have created a community, but that it is a closed community, but that's their problem. I also have a few other issues that might have gone unnoticed under other circumstances. Firstly, the programme: It costs £2. Now considering that Burton Albion can produce a full glossy edition for £2 and even Aston Villa can produce a glossy programme for £2 for friendlies and games against lesser teams I find this a bit of an offence . It is no better than Ely City's programme (priced 50p) and actually isn't as good as Rocester's (£1). Most of it is advertisements, patting themselves on the back and pleas for you to give them yet more cash, as well as all the stuff you would expect in a Step 5 programme, although they are a step 3 club and the pictures are more pixelated and poorly formatted. In fact the formatting of the pictures in the programme does actually look like for once a 5 year old has been included in the club activities. Therefore I can only assume that the proclamation of 'Blue Square South Programme of the Year' on the front means that they have downgraded the programme but not the price or they are being economical with the truth.

Come to think of it the section in the programme about Worthing doesn't mention that they are a full step below City and almost deliberately misinforms you into thinking that they are a Ryman Premier League team, which of course they aren't.

They also talk a load of balls. In the Southern League there has been an ongoing debate regarding the use of GX Balls, that many clubs have now complained about them that the league has decided to change over to mitre. GX obviously aren't happy about this and are taking the league to court and one of their supporters is Cambridge City. Now, in last week's edition of the Non League Paper Cambridge were quoted as saying that they would use GX Balls in cup competitions where they could choose the balls, well weren't they Umbro balls I saw them using on Saturday?

Anyway I was probably just a victim of circumstances on Saturday, but if they think I am willing to fork out another £22 for their matchday experience or will be giving them any of my Tesco Vouchers that they are on the scrounge for they have another thing coming.

Notes on photos from top to bottom:
The entrance to the ground
The main stand
The main terrace
XL Mascot and the lazy panda line up with the teams before the game

More Pictures from Ely City V Harwich and Parkeston (1)






Notes on photos from top to bottom:
The dugouts
Nadiya and Sean join in
Action from the game
The main stand, as viewed from behined the dugouts
The terraced section

Support the Locals




The first weekend in Ely gave me the opportunity to visit a number of games. I could have gone to Soham V top of the table Leamington or Cambridge City v Bashley. These games yielded 5 goals each with Leamington winning 3-2 and Cambridge City beating promotion hopefulls Bashley 5-0. However, I witnessed a 1-1 draw between Ely City and Harwich and Parkeston and I can't say that I regretted the decision.

First of all Ely is a pretty friendly club and its fans include pensioners, young kids and vocal support from teenagers. Although the walk from my house was a bit of a nightmare as most of it was along the A10 and close to the ground are also a tennis court, a golf course and several rugby pitches, which makes the narrow road to it a bit of a traumatic journey and not something to relish when the weather is worse and they have a midweek game on. That said the programmes cost 50p, they have Greene King IPA in the clubhouse and there are some nice views of the cathedral, and it has a stand that is better than a lot of other clubs at this level.

As for the game it was a pretty enjoyable match and Ely went 1-0 up through an Andy Petit goal and could have gone further ahead if he hadn't managed to miss an absolute sitter a few minutes later. Harwich must also have been woeing their bad luck, as they had previously had the chance to go 1-0 up when they hit the bar with a thunderbolt of a shot.

To be honest in the second half Harwich had the better of it but never looked like really scoring. They were clearly frustrated by the ELy offside trap and a linesman who seemed a little bit to happy to oblige with any calls from the Ely defence. The right back and goalkeeper were also fairly ruffled by the kids chanting from the bit of terrace at the ground, as the keeper got booked for his reaction and the right back somehow managed to escape caution. However, disaster for the Robins struck in the last minute when an Ely defender managed to do what the Harwich forwards couldn't and put the ball in the back of the City net.

The coach gave the kids a big cheer when the players left the pitch, I wonder if he asked them to wind the opposition up? And I was back at the Unwin Ground the following day for the car boot sale, where I managed to get some dining room chairs for £2!

Notes on photos:
Top: The Entrance board to the ground
Middle: View of the stand when entering
Bottom: The cathedral in the distance

A Tale of 2 Cities

Well I finally have the Internet here in Ely and the last 2 weekends have seen me take in Ely City v Harwich & Parkeston in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division and Cambridge City v Worthing in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup.

Both games involved a team in black and white stripes play a team in all red, in both games the home team could easily have felt hard done by and both games involved teams from Cambridgeshire take on teams from the seaside. However, there were also a lot of differences between these 2 games, which I am about to expand on

Monday, September 15, 2008

Update

That brings to an end the Fens Football Focus for now, I'll be adding more teams as I come across them and actually visit their grounds. I'll be moving to Ely on Wednesday and don't know when I will have an Internet connection. I have to buy a computer first! Anyway, hopefully all will go well and I'll be back posting soon, although obviously I might even post something tomorrow if I have the chance or anything to say.

Fens Football Focus - 6 Histon FC


Histon Institute were formed in 1904 and although they have long dropped the Institute from their name they are still known as 'The Stutes'. Histon have played in the neighbouring villages of Histon and Impington since they were formed and their first playing field was originally a rose field, hence the rose on the badge, that was given to the club by John Chivers of the local Chivers jam factory.



Their early history is in the local leagues of the area and in 1960 they joined the Delphim League, which disbanded 3 years later, when like many of the other clubs in this league they joined the Athenian League. In 1966 they joined the Eastern Counties League where they remained until 2000. At this time their main rivals were Ely City, so it shows how meteoric their rise through the non-league structure has been over the last decade. Now their reserve team play in the same league as Ely and the Stutes are now in the Conference National, where their local rivals are Cambridge United and where clubs like Wrexham, Mansfield and Oxford expect bigger crowds every week than the Histon ground, which traditionally represents the 2 local villages, can hold.



Histon were obviously well respected in the Eastern League, as when in 1988 it was split into a Premier and a First Division Histon were placed in the Premier. In 1990 Histon won the League Cup, but in 1995 they were relegated to the 1st Division. In 1997 under the guidance of Simon Allen they were again promoted and in 1998, mainly due to Nick Kennedy's 46 goals they managed to finih 3rd. It was also the third season in a row that the club were awarded with the league's Fair Play award and Sean Audley scored an amazing 79 goals in the reserves. Things were obviously starting to go well for The Stutes as in 1999-2000 they won the Premier Division and were promoted to the Southern League Southern Division after beating Gorleston on the last day.



After a miny slump Histon came second in the Southern League Eastern Division in 2003-04 and the following season as well as beating Shrewsbury in the First Round proper of the FA Cup, before losing to Yeovil in the second round, they managed to win the Southern League and were promoted to the Conference South. The next season they reached the play offs, but they had to wait until 2007 to reach the highest level of non-league football when they beat Welling City in the play-offs, with Adrian Cambridge netting a last minute winner.



Histon have proved a lot of their distractors, who believed that they were too small for the Conference wrong. Unlike many smaller clubs, like Droylsden last year and maybe Lewes this year, Histon have built up a fine team and could possibly finish higher than the 14th they managed in their inaugral season.



Not surprisngly some of their landmark moments have been in recent years, their first televised game was on 20th September 2007 when they beat Oxford United 1-0 and their biggest attendance was on New Year's Day 2008, when they beat Cambridge United 1-0 in front of 3,721 fans

4-1 Again!





Rocester beat Oldbury 4-1 at home and then managed to beat Sutton Town 4-1 away in the FA Vase, so expectations were high for this game. Although the manager, Swaney urged precaution there was a general optimism around the club, which had been missing for a while.



The optimism was short lived. Coventry Sphinx, who have been buoyed by closer connections to Coventry City reversed the scores of the previous 2 games by beating Rocester 4-1 in what was quite a bad tempered game. To be honest, the officials did really well in calming things down and injecting humour into the game. Some of the tackles going in looked to have the intent to harm the opposite player and the back chat and appeals of both teams, although mainly from Sphinx players seemed unreasonable. Not surprisingly this fixture led to both clubs being heavily fined last year when fighting broke out among the players, so hats off to the officials for keeping control of things today. That said, they had to be eagle eyed as they were being inspected themselves.



Although the result is a disappointment to Rocester they can take satisfaction from the fact that they played well and were even pressing for goals at the end. Coventry Sphinx are going to cause problems for a lot of teams this season and they, along with Market Drayton Town must be amongst favourites for promotion.



Notes on photos from top to bottom:

1. Bargain Boozers: Asya and Sean walk back from the bar, or something like that

2. Sloping off: Obviously Guiness was stronger than I thought looking at the angle of this picture, although there is a pretty good view of the church.

3. Rocester get ready to take a free kick.

4. Sphinx clear the ball from the free kick.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fens Football Focus - 5 Cambridge United



I always think of Cambridge United as a league club, which they were from 1970 to 2005, however they came from humble beginnings and their existence has been aided by a number of personalities who have been involved with the club over the years.



The first club to be known as Cambridge United were formed in 1908 and in 1912 a club that would later be known as Cambridge United, Abbey United was formed. However, World War 1 interfered with footballing business and both of these clubs were disbanded during the conflict. Abbey United were re-formed in 1919 and this has been taken as the official date of the foundation of Cambridge United.



Up until World War 2 Cambridge United, or Abbey United, as they were known until 1951 were a minor force in local football and were firmly in the shadows of Cambridge Town, who saw Ipswich as their rivals rather than United. That was all to change though when in 1949 United signed their first professional player and set on their journey that would take them from the Eastern Counties League to the Southern League to a place in the Football League. Another audacious move by the club, which underlined the extent of their ambitions came in 1956 when they signed Wilf Mannion.



Mannion had been a hero at Middlesbrough in the top division of English football for many years, in fact he was such a hero that there is a statue of him outside the Riverside Stadium to this very day. He also served bravely in World War 2 and was capped 26 times by England. In the first England game after the War Mannion scored a hat-trick against Northern Ireland. However, in 1956 Mannion was a Hull City player and after making allegations of illegal payments in football, allegations that he couldn't prove he was banned by the Football League. It underlined Cambridge's braveness and ambition that they were able to get him to sign for them in the Eastern Counties League.



By the 1960's Mannion had left the club, but United underlined their ambition to get in to the League. At the end of the decade they won the Southern League twice in a row and in 1970 Bradford Park Avenue were refused re-entry to the league, so United were given their place.



After a rocky start Cambridge United got promotion to division 3 in 1972. However, they only managed to stay their one season before dropping back into the basement. In 1974 Ron Atkinson arrived and Cambridge United reverted back to their traditional black and amber stripes after several experiments with their kits. If it were the kits or Ron's magic at work we will never know, but either way it did the trick. By 1978 Cambridge United had reached the second division after successive promotions, which was a pretty impressive climb in just 8 years of league football. They managed to stay in division 2 for 5 season before plumetting all the way back to division 4.



In 1986 United had to apply for re-election to the league, but help was around the corner in the shape of the controversial manager Jeff Beck. Beck has come in for a lot of stick due to his dreadful long ball style and mistreatment of players from visiting clubs. Maybe he had an axe to grind, as he had been a bit player in the successful and super entertainment packed QPR team of the 70s, so he might just have been getting his own back. Anyway, his underhand tactics worked and at the start of the 90s, in 1990 and 1991 United were again promoted consecutively from Division 4 to Division 2. In 1993 they reached the play-off and were on the verge of gaining a place in the top tier of English football. However instead they embarked on a downward spiral and in 2005 were relegated into the Conference with debts of a million pounds.



Last season they reached the play-off final before losing at Wembley to Exeter City. This year they will be hoping to go one better.

Fens Football Focus - 4 Cambridge City


I actually stayed just opposite the club's ground on Milton Road a couple of weeks ago and it perhaps says how knackered I was or how unassuming the club are that I didn't notice it. I have to say that I am looking forward to my first visit to this ground, as the walk from the bus stop to it takes in the historical centre and the picturesque Jesus Green, as well as going past several decent looking pubs.



Cambridge City at the moment play in the Southern League Premier Division after being demoted (notice the word demoted and not relegated) from the Conference South at the end of last season due to a failed ground inspection by the FA. This brought an end to 22 years in the 2nd tier of non-league football for the club and added to this it was discovered that the former directors had been robbing the club blind. The club is now a club 'ran by the fans for the fans', and it perhaps goes to show how unassuming the club are in that it's the kind of story the non-league press loves to cover, but their story has gone by without the hoo-ha of other clubs in a pickle.



The club were formed in 1908 under the name of Cambridge Town and in their early years they proved themselves to be a force to be reckoned with in local football winning the Bury and District League on several occassions and the Cambridge Amateur League. By the 1930s the 2 dominant forces in East Anglian non-league football were Cambridge Town and Ipswich Town, they locked horns together in the Southern Amateur League. Both of them were invited to join the league, Ipswich accepted and Cambridge didn't, instead they vowed to remain an amateur team and joined the Spartan League, which they won on 3 ocassions between 1945 and 1950.



In 1951 Cambridge became a city and Cambridge Town became Cambridge City, Abbey United also had pretensions of becoming Cambridge City, but Town got their application in first and Abbey United decided to become Cambridge United.



Cambridge City finally relinquished their amateur status in 1958 and joined the Southern League, where they were to remain until 2004 when they were promoted. In 1958 they got promoted in their first season and won the Southern League title in 1963. However, without automatic promotion at the time they were forced to stay in the Southern League and in 1967 were relegated to the 1st division. In 1970 they won promotion to the Premier division again, but whereas they had not been rewarded with promotiom in 1963, their local rivals United had joined the League at Bradford Park Avenue's expense. City were once again left watching their rivals overtake them and their runners up spot in 1971 would have come as little consellation.



The official website of the club says that the period that followed, particularly from 1975 to 1985 can be described as 'the darkest days for the club'. If we consider that recent events nearly led to the club going completly out of business it must have been a bloody awful time! At this time the board actually considered going back to being an amateur club in the Isthmian League, but the idea was never popular with the fans, and eventually they came through it and won the Southern League South title in 1986.



Let's hope that the club can again rise from the flames and that happier days are around the corner.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fens Football Focus - 3 Newmarket Town


To be honest I'm not even sure if Newmarket is in the Fens, as it the town which is more famous fore horse racing is in Suffolk, but even so it's pretty close to where I'll be living, so I'm including them in this feature.



Newmarket Town are known as the Jockeys and play at cricketfields road, which could be used as an excuse for their confusion last season when they were relegated from the premier of the Eastern Counties League to division 1. However, this wasn't the worst season that the jockeys have faced, as they finished bottom of the league 3 times in a row after World War 2 and in 1952 lost every single game and finished with a goal difference of - 151, which led to them being relegated to the Peterborough and District League.



It's not been all doom and gloom at the club, who were formed in 1877, though. Early honours include winning the 1920 Cambridgeshire Senior League Cup, the Bury and District League in 1927 and the Suffolk and Ipswich League in 1932, 33 and 34. In 1937 the club were admitted to the Eastern Counties League and although they finished bottom in 1938 they managed to stay in the league due to the expansion in the number of teams competing in it. During the war Stan Motensen turned out for the club as a guest player. The club spent 7 years in the Peterborough and District League between 1952 to 1959 before being promoted again to the Eastern Counties League. They competed in the Premier of this league up until relegation last season. They also won the Suffolk Senior Cup 4 times in the 1990's

Fens Football Focus - 2 Soham Town Rangers


Unfortunately I can find very little information about Soham Town Rangers on the Internet, so hopefully I'll find out more when I get down there. They were formed in 1947 and joined the Eastern Counties League in 1963. They won the Eastern Counties League last season (see above picture) and are now competing in the Southern League division 1 (Midlands), whichisn't bad for a town with a population of less than 10,000.



Other honours include winning the Peterborough and District League 3 times and the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup 4 times, other than that it was harder to find information about them even more than some lower league Ukrainian Clubs, although at least I have been able to obtain the fixtures and directions to the ground.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fens Football Focus - 1 Ely City


Ely City will soon be my local team and I hope to lend them my support when I can. Like most smaller clubs they suffer from the nations obsession with sky sports and the Premier League and also from the bigger clubs of Cambridge United and Peterborough United being not too far away. At the moment they play in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division, which is level 9 of the English League system and is contested between clubs from Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex for a place in the Isthmian League or the Southern League. They are the oldest football club in Cambridgeshire having been formed in 1885.

The club were originally known as Ely St.Etheldreda Football and Cricket Club, after the founder of the city and spent the first 90 years of their existence at the Paradise Ground before moving Unwin Ground, which is named after Doug Unwin who was involved in the club in different capacities from 1924 until his death in 1999, when he was still the president.

The club's first major success came in 1948 when they won the double of the 2 Cambridgeshire Senior Cup Competitions. In 1951 they left the Cambridgeshire League for the Peterborough League and in their first season were League Cup Runners Up. In 1956 they had a lot of success in the FA Cup, when they reached the first round where they lost to Torquay, but on their way to qualification they managed to beat 3 of their local rivals; Histon 5-2, Cambridge United 5-2 and Cambridge City 1-0 and then Sudbury 1-0.

In 1958 Ely changed leagues again, this time joining the Central Alliance and in 1970 they were finally elected to the Eastern Counties League after several failed attempts. They didn't really make an impact here though until 1969 when their player / manager and former Irish International, Hugh Barr led them to runners up spot in both the league and league cup. In the 1979-80 season Ely won their first piece of major silverware when they beat Lowestoft in the League Cup Final.

In 1994 the ground underwent major improvements and now has a stand for 200 people, which makes it one of the best grounds in the league and is one that I am looking forward to visiting. After a few barren years Ely managed to climb back into the Premier League of the Eastern Counties in 2007 after finishing runners up in the first division

Fens Football Focus

I'll shortly be moving to Ely and although this means I'll probably have limited Internet access for a period of time I thought I would take the opportunity to have a look at who the local teams are over the next few weeks.

Rain and Charity Football


I didn't go to a match on Saturday, as getting anywhere from Rocester on public transport is a nightmare at the best of times. The deluge of rain over the week also meant that a number of games were threatened with being postponed, I had decided to try to go to Matlock Town's home game or Belper Town's, so it was probably just as well that I didn't bother, as Matlock's game was off and Belper's ended in a 0-0 draw.



On Sunday I went to Oldfields Sports and Social Club in Uttoxeter to see a memorial match for local hero Roger Croft. The game was between Uttoxeter Town Old and New, and Roger's All Stars ( team of ex and current professionals). Captaining Roger's All Stars was his son Gary Croft, who played for England's Under 21s and was at one time transfered to Blackburn from Grimsby for 1.7 million pounds. Other pros and ex-pros included Tony Mowbray, the West Bromwich Albion manager, Graham Fenton who won the League Cup with Aston Villa and now who is player/ Assistant Manager at Blyth Spartans, James Beattie of sheffield United, Mark Stallard, who now plays for Mansfield, but has also played for Derby, Fulham and Bradford City, Martyn Margetson, who played for Manchester City, Southend and Huddersfield and is now the goal keeping coach at Cardiff City, and Peter Thorne, formerly of Blackburn, Stoke and Cardiff, who is still knocking the goals in for Bradford City.



Not surprisingly Roger's All Stars won the game 7-1 and it was good to see so many players, who were probably involved in games on Saturday turn up for a charity game. The same can be said of the 'Uttoxeter' Team, whose starting line up was mainly made up of current Rocester players and players who left Rocester for Leek Town in the mass exodus of players and backroom staff from Hillfields to Harrison Park at the end of last season.



In the second half, the younger players were substituted for ex-Uttoxeter players who were probably all in their 40's and a goalkeeper who wasn't really a goalkeeper after Uttoxeter's goalkeeper had to leave the pitch with a broken finger. This probably gave the All Stars a bit of a flattering result, but a good time was had by all despite the torrential rain for most of the game.



The picture shows the players lining up before the game. The players in the white T-shirts are the All Stars, although they played in Blackburn Rovers' shirts and in red and black are the Uttoxeter team

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Romans Ruin Oldbury's Night


I expected Rocester to struggle against Oldbury on Tuesday night, as they have really been playing quite badly of late. Matches between the two clubs also have a reputation of being closely fought affairs, although the first meeting between the clubs in 1988 in the West Midlands Regional League ended in a 4-0 defeat at home for Rocester. On Tuesday they got their revenge for this and beat Oldbury 4-1.



Oldbury went ahead on 23 minutes when Max Bissell put the visitors ahead and for most of the first half it looked like Rocester would be well beaten. However in the second half we saw a very different Rocester who ran Oldbury ragged and dominated the game. The Romans drew level when Chris Sleath, who signed last week from Gresley Rovers, was fouled in the area and Paul Millward scored from the spot. On 69 minutes Sleath scored to put Rocester in the lead and then it was the turn of Lee Bagley, who had only just come on as a substitute to score on 80 minutes and then again in stoppage time.



So finally I managed to see Rocester win and it looks like Chris Sleath could be a useful signing for the club.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Club Focus - Oldbury United


Oldbury United are playing Rocester up the road tonight and with nothing much else to do and being a glutton for punishment I will be at the game.



Oldbury, despite their name and the age of most of the clubs in the Midlands Football Alliance were formed as late as 1958. They joined the Worcestershire Combination, which was later called the Midland Football Combination, in 1966.



In 1982 they moved up to the Southern League Midland Division, where their highest finish was 3rd, however in 1985-86 they finished bottom and went into the West Midlands Regional League. In 1993 they won the Championship and in 1994 they became founder members of the Midlands Football Alliance. Their highest finish in the MFA has been 3rd, but last season they narrowly avoided relegation when they finished 21st. They weren't helped though by having to play the first half of the season at Pelsall Villa's Bush Ground when there was a legal dispute over the use of their 'The Beeches' ground in Tividale.



They will have to be a poor team to lose to a Rocester team that has been ravaged by injuries and weakened by Leek's preseason poaching of players though.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ataturk and Turkish Football


I was reading about the Turkish Derby between Fenerbahce and Galatasary last night and, although I tend to have more sympathies for the Cim Bom than the yellow cananriesI was again interested to read that Ataturk was a Fenerbahce fan and it reminded me of a Fenerbahce badge I bought in Istanbul a few years ago with a portrait of Ataturk on it.



on the 10th August 1928 after Fenerbahce's 3-3 draw with Galatasary, Ataturk is supposed to have said to 3 Galatasary fans and 2 Fenerbahce fans 'We are 3 and 3 here because I am too a supporter of Fenerbahce'. He also wrote in the guest book at Fenerbahce previously in 1918 that ' I was informed of the admirable activities of the club Fenerbahce and I was doing my duty to visit and congratulate the club. The visit has been made on this day and I can save my honour and congratulations' It has also been noted that when Fenerbahce's club building burnt down on 5th June 1932 Ataturk was the first to donate towards its rebuilding. Fenerbahce would also seem to have some of the attributes of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, despite being the only major Istanbul club from the Asian side of the bosphorous they have in many ways been the only team to truly modernise at the rate of Western clubs and they certainly haven't alienated any of their fans in the way in which Galatasary's archaic board have done in the past; but was Ataturk really a supporter of Fernabahce?



In Vala Somali's book ' 100 years of Besiktas in Turkish Sport' Ataturk gave a similar address to the officials of Besiktas in 1915 to that he would write in the book of Fenerbahce 3 years later. It might also be noted that in 1932 Ataturk was the president of Turkey and as one of his major ideologies was the importance of sport, then he would have been expected to contribute to the rebuilding of the club house. However, the evidence supporting him as a Besiktas fan is also flimsy. Vala Somali states that he lived near the Besiktas stadium (geography doesn't play an important part in choosing a club for Turkish fans) and that 8 footballers and 1 hockey player were killed from the Besiktas club during the Turkish War of Independence; although this is a large number it shows that they agreed with Ataturk's policies rather than him being an ardant fan.



It is no surprise that both clubs want to claim him as a fan. He was afterall the founder of the country after the decline of the Ottoman Empire and as President after fighting in the War of Independence set Turkey on a democratic and modern course for the future. In fact modernising policies in Turkey are still sometimes called Kemalism Policies after him.



His influence can still be seen in Turkish football nowadays. For example there is the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, which is where the 2005 Champions League Final was held and will be the scene of the UEFA Cup Final next year. The stadium cost $135 million to build and originally had a capacity of 80597, but later was reduced to 75,486 when all of the seats with limited views were removed. In 2003-2004 it was used by Galatasary for their league games, however after a backlash from Fener and Besiktas fans Galatasary moved back to the crumbling Ali Sami Yen the following season. Nevertheless, they were allowed to use the stadium for their Champions League games in 2006-07. It is also used as the home stadium by Istanbulspor at the moment.



Several other stadiums have been named after him including the home stadiums of Antalyaspor, Denzilspor and Kayserispor. There was also an Ataturk Cup, which was first contested in 1955 when Adalet beat Fenerbahce. It was then played again in 1964 and Fener beat Besiktas. In 1998 the cobwebs were dusted off it for the 60th Anniverssary of Mustafa Kemil's death and Fenerbahce again beat Besiktas. It was then played for the last time in 2000 and Besiktas finally won it by beating Galatasary.



As for who he supported, I had always assumed it was Fenerbahce, but mainly because of the badge I had, but i guess we will never know