Taking It All In At Our First Fethiyespor Match – It’s All About Crowd Control

The Setting:
Fethiyespor Football Stadium, 23rd March 2013: It’s the 80th anniversary of Fethiyespor Football Club and the match is being aired live on Lig TV; the first time the club have been shown live on the channel. A carnival atmosphere is expected as an online campaign has been rallying supporters and tickets for two of the three stands are given away for free. A big push has been made to attract more yabancılar (that’s us foreign folks) to the game, so these two yabancı decide to go, along with another friend.

What happened:
We get there early because we’ve heard it’s going to be a big crowd. We choose the free seats over the 10 TL main stand seats. We’re novices, we’ve never done this before, and are pleasantly surprised to find we can sit, for free, on the half way line, close to the front. There are a few fans already there, grouped, organised, jumping, singing, chanting – so we choose the block of seats just to their right.

Fethiyespor Supporters

Fethiyespor Supporters

This might be our first experience of Turkish football, but we’re both well-versed in the stadium crowd experience. As a youngster, Barry used to go watching Wigan Athletic when they languished in the old 4th Division, and from the age of 11 up to going to university, I followed Wigan Rugby League home and away. We’re knowledgeable (we assume) and happy that the block of seats just to the right of the chanting youths is close enough for atmosphere and far enough away not to get caught up in it all. “Leave them to it,” we think.

Fethiyespor Flag

Lacivert, Beyaz

A huge Fethiyespor flag billows in the stiff breeze. The weather gods have been kind, it’s a sunny day and the stands are filling up quickly; the scene is set and it’s the perfect setting for Fethiyespor 80th anniversary celebrations.

Fethiyespor Warm Up

Good coordination from Fethiyespor

The teams come out to warm up – we can’t help but think Fethiyespor’s warm up resembles a series of coordinated dance moves with high leg kicks and claps. We’re all (novice) eyes and ears today and loving it! As the players near the group of chanting fans, the singing gets louder, the group become more animated and we notice the players acknowledge the fans. Impressive. Is this the norm at Fethiyespor / in Turkish football? We don’t know, but it’s noticed by us Brits, nonetheless.

A few minutes later, a steady drum beat rings through the stadium speakers and our chanting neighbours, scarves held aloft, begin a North American Indian-style ‘dance.’ The penny drops. We’ve sat ourselves next to the Apaçiler (Fethiyespor fans are named after the North American Indian Apaches). We’ve seen this name many times over the years and now, here we are, sat right next to them…at a Fethiyespor match…and we soon realise we’re not going to get away with it lightly!

Fethiyespor Vs Tarsusspor, Football Match

Oh look, a football match

Enter the ‘conductor.’ It seems that at this match (again, we don’t know if this is the norm – there are a lot of special circumstances today), we’re all here to follow his lead, and it’s not a choice. There is a football match underway (see photo above) but that seems secondary. We soon find out that this bunch are here to be vociferous and they’re going to make sure the rest of the crowd follow suit! We are the flock.

Fethiyespor Amigo

Fethiyespor Amigo

Here’s our ‘conductor’. We thought he was standing on the fence at first but it seems whoever stands here has his own little platform. He works tirelessly throughout the first half, conducting proceedings around the whole ground:

  • when to sing and what to sing
  • when to chant and what to chant and when to be quiet
  • when to sit and when to stand
  • when to stand and wave your hands and fingers in the air. (Maybe this is some Apache thing? Its significance escapes us but we just obey. We are the flock, remember.)

Fethiyespor score the first goal, much to the obvious delight of the crowd. Random cheering’s okay for that one, it seems. A while later, Tarsus equalise and our conductor sets to work, finger to lips. Everyone falls silent. Let’s not acknowledge that goal. The animated actions of our ‘conductor’ make it difficult to watch the match, anyway. He’s on stage and he’s got his audience.

Fethiyespor Paramotor

A congratulatory paramotor flies over the ground

We have a slightly disgruntled (but good fun) ‘older’ Fethiyespor fan behind us. ‘Hadi yaaa, Şimşek Gol Gol Gol, yaa.’ It appears our ‘conductor’ isn’t orchestrating our older supporter’s favourite chant often enough. Half time comes and, as the leader of the flock wanders past for a break our older fan calls out, “Genç (Youth)! Şimşek yaa.” A pleading ‘give-me-a-break’ look consumes the conductor’s face and banter ensues. It’s all in good jest but we’re already betting we’ll be getting that chant at the start of the second half.

And here’s the thing: as football goes, most of the second half wasn’t much to write home about. Fethiyespor didn’t look too hot. A British crowd would have been getting a bit miffed by now, calling out to the team – we all know the standard phrases. But this doesn’t happen here. It may be that we’re all too busy singing and chanting to notice. Who knows? One thing we do know is that we’re over 45 minutes into this game now and we’re getting good at this Turkish chanting lark so we’re not too bothered for the moment.

Fethiyespor Crowd

Pretend you’re a tree

Şimşek Gol Gol Gol (Lightening goal) is indeed chanted during the second half. Our older supporter gets his way and chuckles. The chant is needed, as is the lightening goal. Fethiyespor don’t want a 1-1 draw on their 80th anniversary. Regardless of events on the pitch, chanting continues unabated – and how all the coordination comes about isn’t quite clear but all of a sudden, we’re shouting:

Lacivert (Dark blue). Our conductor holds left hand towards our stand to quiet us while turning to the opposite stand to raise a:
Beyaz (White)

Yes, Fethiyespor play in blue and white. Throughout the second half we sit for a few moments and then we’re gestured to stand while opposite stands exchange chants. Our ‘conductor’ faces us, the opposite stand, the stand behind the goalposts, he (not surprisingly) loses his balance on occasion and very occasionally steals a glimpse at the match. After each set of exchanges, we all applaud each other. Well done us! And it does sound good. It does look good. It’s all good fun. Errrm but aren’t we supposed to be watching the football match?

Fethiyespor vs Tarsusspor

3-1 and all is well

Not to worry. More singing to be done. For reasons known only (maybe) to the Fethiyespor fans, after spending the first half and most of the second half being directed to sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up, the last 20 minutes or so are all spent standing up. All of us are standing. A deputy conductor is sent to our bank of seats (there’s obviously concern that our energy is waning) and there’s a strained look on his face and an ‘Uff yaaaa’ as he clambers onto the fence to gee us all up. It appears this conducting job is high-pressured work and the deputy goes back to his original post, not too happy with our efforts.

But then, just as it looks as though 1-1 is going to be the final score, Fethiyespor somehow score (they never looked like scoring from what we managed to see of the second half). No more cheer leading necessary as, fittingly, the team take centre stage. A few minutes later, a minute or so before the game finishes, they score again. A perfect ending for an 80th anniversary.

Fethiyespor Team

Photo time at the end of the match

And the fans’ efforts don’t go unrewarded. As soon as the final whistle goes, the usual handshakes are made and the team come straight over to applaud the fans and get together for photos. We like that bit!

Because it was a special anniversary, entrance to the game was free. Entrance fees to Fethiyespor home games are usually 5 and 10 TL.
Also, because of the anniversary and the fact the match was on TV, we know this was not a regular game so our experience was not typical. However, it’s done the trick and we will be going to watch Fethiyespor again some time soon.

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Comments

  1. I’ve been to a champions league match between PSV and Fenerbahce here in Eindhoven, and must admit, loud and proud as the PSV fans were, they couldn’t come close to the fans in the visitor’s section. Especially once the colored smoke started!

  2. @ Brett Domue: Ha ha, glad you have the experience of one of the bigger teams. We were wondering if it was the same. The Fethiyespor stadium doesn’t have a roof but if it did, we would have been making a LOT of noise. 🙂

  3. It’s sounds almost as exhausting to watch the match as it is to play. Hope you weren’t expected to do the high kicks with the players.

  4. @ BacktoBodrum: Well, we went out for a drink after the event. Watching Turkish football is a tiring job it seems. 🙂

  5. This sounds like lots of fun. There are self appointed cheerleaders in the stands at US events but the conductor has taken it to an art form. You really let me live the experience vicariously.

  6. . . J (Rotherham United) and I (Sheerness United – I know, I know!) went to our one and only match here 15 years ago – Dalyan Belediye Spor were at home against someone or other (you can see how interested we are). The game was rubbish but all the entertainment was between a megalomaniac ref, the players, Dalyan manager, the supporters and the terrified young jandarma fingering their automatics. The ref kept blowing his whistle and red-carding all and sundry – even the manager. The crowd was going crazy so he tried to red-card them as well. Both sides ended up with about 7 players each which improved the game enormously! Dalyan won which was probably just as well. J and I saw very little of the game through the stream of tears from hysterical laughter. Having just described that to you I’m wondering why we haven’t been back.

  7. @ Randy (Mr. TWS): It was a lot of fun. Thanks a lot for your comment. We actually thought about American cheerleaders. 🙂 It’s a great idea as British crowds do go a bit flat sometimes.

  8. @ Alan: Well, isn’t time you did go back? Sounds like you had great fun. 😉 We’ve heard tales about some of the Fethiyespor games so we were wondering what was in store of us. As it was a celebratory day, think everyone was on their best behaviour. 🙂 Definitely going to go again though.

  9. Anonymous says

    Hello
    We’re coming over for three weeks in August and want to attend a fethiyrespor match. Can anyone help with buying tickets and have the fixtures come out?
    Thanks
    Shawn

    • Sorry, only just seen this comment, Shawn. The fixtures are not out yet but when they do, we’ll be putting them on our Fethiye Events Calendar which you can see on this blog. Buying tickets is easy enough. You’ll be able to get the from the Fethiyespor store in the centre of town. 🙂 Hope you get to see a game.

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