Doing the Turkey Trot: Besitkas v Bolton
Date: Thursday 20th October 2005So, we are off again on our great European adventure, part ll. By now, our beloved Wanderers will be relaxing in the city of mosques and minarets after flying over the scene of our last (well, okay, first then) venture across the continent, and landing in the Turkish city of Istanbul (Constantinople to those old enough to remember Sri Lanka being Ceylon) for the away leg of our UEFA Cup dream. Now somewhere in that ancient domain of Christendom and Muslimism, a Turkish TangoDancer will be feverishly poring over a map of the UK and desperately battering internet links to find out all about Bolton. Well, we might never have had an Ottoman Empire, but we had an Empire Cinema and sure have a history to offer. He will read about Bolton Le Moors and gaze with awe when he finds out that our Cannon Street was so named because lines of cannons were located there in the English Civil War (Cromwell, and all that... er how many of you actually knew that folks?) He will find Halliwell was actually Holy Well and had monks and friars, and read with dismay about Sam's Spinning Jenny (hopefully thinking it's a new player from Angola or somewhere) . He will discover Smithills Hall and Hall-ith-wood and The Swan Tap and Yates's Wine Lodge. Hopefully he will see a photograph of the stone lions on the town hall steps roaring defiance at tourists. He will hear of the mighty River Croal and mentally compare it with their own Bosphorus, the jump-off point for the French and English armies when the Crusaders marched on Jerusalem. What ships, he will wonder, set sail from this Croal place? Hardships, apprenticeships and scholarships all had their origins here as the mighty torrent thundered its way to ...er, Darcy Lever, Ringley, Radcliffe, gee, anywhere. (Where the hell does it actually go?) And then he will read with a growing sense of horror of the history of The Wanderers. Magical names like Pikes Lane, The Brittania Pub, Burnden Park and all the legends associated with it all. And then the space-age, state of the art Reebok. He will quake in his turned up Kasbah slippers and rub feverishly at the donkey's leg around his neck as his fez wobbles frantically in a poor imitation of our beloved Tommy Cooper (Well, he once appeared at the Monaco in Farnworth). And we, what are we making of the opposition? Well, be of good cheer folks. Donner kebabs hold no fear for the citizens of a town with Chinese and Indian, French, Greek, Italian and even Turkish places of refreshment (actually, Istanbul has all the same and eating and drinking and should present no problems to the cast-iron pie receptacles of the Bolton fans making the journey). By now we assume that all our travelling compatriots have the required official entry visas and they may have to register foreign currency and valuable objects on arrival. There is little chance of much tourism for most on the short excursion, so we won't discuss beautiful female Turkish belly dancers (or beautiful others who turn out to have items of bodily furniture that no female could possibly possess - beware). The ground, grandly known as 'Istanbul Besiktas Football Stadium and Club', lies almost on the banks of the Bosphorus (which is actually a bloody sea) in sight of some of those onion shaped Mosque things you might see on Deane Road or Derby Street here at home. It came to be around 1908 (sport had been frowned upon until then by all those Sultan fellas in the driving seats) and started life as a boxing, wrestling and gymnastics show. (Besiktas Ottoman Gymnastics for the perverse). Club colours are black and white (originally red and white but after the loss of the Balkans wars of 1912 a black day for all nations was declared as some of the players died in the war. Since they never got back the Balkans, it's been black ever since). Respectfully, after tomorrow night it might get blacker. Their nickname is 'The Black Eagles' (They actually beat Chelsea 2-0 in 2003/04, not that that means much to the Super Whites). They are in their fourth successive season of UEFA action and have been in the competition 110 times. No duck eggs then. They lost their first game this year to Swedish club, Malmo and the players are Hassan's, a couple of Dursuns and Pancake etc (sounds like a menu except for John Carew). We must not treat them lightly (4-0 would be nice) and watch our backs if they are anything like neighbours Fenerbache and those other 'Welcome to hell' nutters at Galatasaray. With our impressive catalogue of injuries, our side could be one that is unfamiliar to even season ticket holders. No Campo, Speed, Jay Jay, Hunt or Bruno (apparently Ricky Gardner's ban is one match only and it is the West Brom one so he may play). We may well see full match appearances of The Cisco Kid and The Samurai - I refer of course to Borgetti and Nakata, Walker, Fernandes, Vaz Te and anyone who didn't suffer air-sickness on the way over. Should be interesting. Well, there you go folks, a potted history of the Donner Kebabs of Istanbul. As the song goes: "Why did Constantinople get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks" After tomorrow, let them do the bloody homework. In the meantime, good luck to the boys. Come on you Whites!.