Turkey is a football crazy country – it dominates the daily life of men (and not a few women) to the exclusion of almost everything else. Flick through the myriad of Turkish tv channels and every other one will be showing groups of men discussing some aspect or other of the game. Every Turkish male knows how to run their favourite club or the national team better than anyone else. There is even a national daily newspaper dedicated to football – I ask you, Fukushima has melted down and is the greatest disaster ever to hit the planet since a meteorite wiped out the dinosaurs! Not that you’d know it from the media here where every rotation of every football from every match is dissected and analysed ad nauseam.
Beşiktaş is also home to the famous/notorious Çarşı anarchist group which was at the forefront of the battle to protect Gezi Park. They were also instrumental in establishing the community forums that sprang up in the aftermath of the police brutality
Anyway, I’m happy to admit that I know nothing and care less about the so-called ‘Beautiful Game’. Watching a bunch of over-paid drama queens prancing about has about as much appeal as an evening in the company of Karl Pilkington. That said, these days, whenever I’m asked the inevitable question ‘What is your team?’ I always reply ‘Beşiktaş – Kara Kartal’ – the Black Eagles! I usually try to escape before the howls of laughter and derision from the Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray supporters dies down because, in truth, I couldn’t name a single player nor where they play.
So, why do I tell ‘porky pies’? Because Anne, my Turkish ‘mother’, is a life-long Black Eagle fan. She is a village lady of unknown age with a big heart that’s filled with love. Whenever we meet she sheds tears, hugs me mightily and calls me ‘Kuzum, kuzum!’ (My lamb, my lamb!) and it is inconceivable that I would deny being a Beşiktaş supporter. There is no danger of being found out because she doesn’t know the names of player since the 1930s anyway.
By way of recognition of her great age and life-long support for the Black Eagles, J and I had Gülay paint her portrait and here she is . .
probably the longest serving Eagles fan in the world
Gülay’s wonderful portrait of Anne
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü