It was great to catch up with my Turkish Team last time in Izmit. Just like County, in that Country I cannot find it in my blood to adopt a so-called ‘Giant’, favouring, the Club that I first went to see with my Father In Law some 16 years ago. I guess it’s “the scarf my father wore syndrome”.
The Ground was somewhat sparse apart from one bustling Stand where fans known as Hodri Meydan showed their support. These inspired by ‘amigos’ sang their hearts out from start to finish but to no avail as the Team went down 1-0.
Everyone was friendly, we made no attempt to hide our British Nationality – and in usual style were permitted to go on the pitch to meet the players; my Son having his picture taken in the dug-out, just as he had with Fatih Terim ex-Galatasaray on last watching ‘Cim Bom’.
Similarities to County continue with the side now stabilizing; and indeed missing out on promotion after a defeat to Tekirdag (known for its’ Raki – Turkish National drink of alcohol!). Despite a lower league and amateur status, a hard core continue to attend and cheer in hope of a return to the Football League.
Commercialisation was absent – no perimeter board, no programme sellers, no real sponsorship of mention – and this amateurism off field also stretched to an inferior web presence and no e-commerce.
The Day will be remembered for some atmosphere, sunshine, welcoming on the pitch and ‘ticker tape’. Who’ll return first to headier heights, Kocaeli or County. I guess the former!