Fenerbahçe vs. Galatasaray Through The Eyes of A LuminaryCommentary • Author: Mehmet Pozam • Sunday, March 28, 2010
Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to watch Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray play in the early years of the now centennial history of Turkey's or even the World's biggest derby? In this derby special editorial, we take you back in time to the 1930's for some Turkish football nostalgia. We proudly present you a retrospect into the Fenerbahçe vs. Galatasaray derby through the eyes of the great Nâzım Hikmet Ran.
Fenerbahçe vs. Galatasaray Through The Eyes of A Turkish Luminary
"The other day a good friend of mine insisted, 'We must go and see the Fenerbahçe vs. Galatasaray match'. I couldn't turn down my friend's offer, so I went and watched the game...
This thing called football is played on an open space, surrounded by thousands of people that gather up on all four sides. I counted them all one by one, there's twenty-two young men that go out onto the pitch. Eleven of them wearing yellow and red striped shirts; the other eleven with yellow and navy blue flannels. But all twenty-two of them wore shorts and big shoes.
There were two goals on each sides of the pitch. Apparently, the deal was to pass this ball through these posts which make up the goal. Anyways, most of my readers know a lot more about this subject than I do, so I won't give you a full explanation.
All of a sudden, a whistle was blown and the game begun. Those twenty-two young men started running about, dripping in sweat. Rather than playing with the ball, they were kicking, tackling and hitting one another. One side was saying, 'I must put the ball into your goal'; while the other side was saying, 'No, I will show you that piece of talent myself'.
To tell you the truth, I also got excited during all this commotion. However, my excitement was just a drop in a bucket compared to the exuberance of the thousands of spectators around me. Those who were watching the game were divided into two groups. Each one was encouraging their squad's boys and throwing cusses at the enemy camp.
Everyone was yelling and shouting out as they wished. An utmost amount of freedom of speech and freedom of thought was in sight...
If I were to say that there was many things that I didn't like about the game, it would be a lie. Those who want to comprehend democracy, in its definitive meaning, should go to Taksim Stadium.
As for myself, I spent a pleasant, lucid and exciting one or two hours there..."
Nâzım Hikmet, Akşam newspaper, 23rd April 1936
The article above was written by famous Turkish poet, novelist and playwright Nâzım Hikmet. This great Turkish luminary was an acclaimed 'romantic communist' who was imprisoned for his revolutionist thoughts. Hikmet was often branded a traitor and he later had to flee to Russia in exile. Nâzım Hikmet was not a football fanatic, but he was certainly an enthusiast of the popular sport.
Back in the 1930's, football was all about playing with amateur spirit and cheering for the love of the game. Even though there was a hardcore battle on the pitch, there was always sportsmanship and fairplay on the stands. Spectators were dressed very nicely and would come to the stadium in ties and jackets. If they couldn't find any empty seats in the stands, they would have to make do with short stools on the sidelines.
In those days, football games in Istanbul were either played at Fenerbahçe Stadium (on the Asian side) or at Taksim Stadium (on the European side). Taksim Stadium (1921-1939), where the derby Nâzım Hikmet depicts takes place, was the home of Beşiktaş and Galatasaray; long before İnönü Stadium (opened in 1947, formerly known as Mithatpaşa Stadium or Dolmabahçe Stadium) and Ali Sami Yen Stadium (opened in 1964) hosted their first games.
Taksim Stadium, shown in the photo above, used to be military barracks before its transformation into a football pitch. This majestic structure was demolished in 1940 for the renovation of Taksim Square. In its place, now stands Taksim Gezi Park.
From the days of Nâzım Hikmet to present day, the Fenerbahçe vs. Galatasaray derby continues to glorify Turkish football. Tonight, the Yellow Canaries and the Lions will battle it out for the 364th time. As Fenerbahçe Worldwide, we hope that tonight's game will be remembered for another great spectacle in the centennial history of the derby.
(English translation of Nâzım Hikmet article by Mehmet Pozam)