Saturday, 23 April 2011

Ulubatlı Souness!

Ulubatlı Hasan (sometimes written as Uluabatlı Hasan) (1428 – May 29, 1453) was a Timarli Sipâhî in the service of Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire who achieved legendary status as a heroic Turkish martyr at the successful Siege of Constantinople.
At the age of 25 he was present at the Siege of Constantinople (April 6, 1453 – May 29, 1453)On the early morning of the last day of the siege, May 29, after the morning prayers, the Ottoman military band started to play one of their songs and the city was stormed. Ulubatlı Hasan was among the first to climb the walls of Constantinople followed closely by thirty of his friends. He carried only a sword, a small shield and the Ottoman Flag. He climbed the wall, under showers of arrows, stones, spears and bullets. He reached the top and he placed the flag, which he defended until his 12 remaining friends arrived. After that he collapsed with 27 arrows still in his body. Seeing the Ottoman flag inspired the Ottoman troops and kept their spirits up until they had conquered Constantinople.

I know what your thinking, clearly not your own words, clearly lifted straight from Wikipedia and clearly irrelevant. Well yes, yes.....and not necessarily. So pens out and open your History text books to page 52 as we take you back to admire and marvel in one of the most idiotic, marvellous, ballsy and genius things ever to happen on a football pitch. now everyone in the tardis as we travel back through time and space to Turkey, Circa 1994......
The lion king and Forrest Gump are smashing it up at the box office, Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin sign the Kremlin accord and the world has not yet heard of Kerry Katona. in short, it was a simpler and better time. But the actions of a certain Scot in 1994 meant that times would not be as rosey for everyone.
Let me set the scene..... It's the Turkish Cup final, set to be contested between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray. A veritable tinderbox of a fixture at the best of times, but only made more volatile in this instance due to the fact that Galatasaray had narrowly pipped Fenerbahce to the Turkish Süper Lig only weeks before.
Galatasaray at the time are being managed by Scottish firebrand Graeme Souness. Souness had just come off the back of an eventful spell as head honcho at Anfield. Although Souness was able to deliver some success in the form of the FA cup, He was not the most popular man around Stanley Park after selling Kop favourite Dean Saunders to Aston Villa, and giving an extremely ill-advised interview to The Sun on the third anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, the latter possibly the biggest no-no on Mersyside since Jon Venables and Robert Thompson decided to go into amateur childcare.
But this was a fresh start for Souness. A new land to impose his strict nature, and more importantly his Tom Selleck moustache.
In those days, the Turkish cup final was a two legged affair, one leg each being played at the home ground of both sides. The first leg was played in Galatasaray and Souness's men managed to squeeze a 1-0 victory to take a slender advantage into the second leg. What follows next is the stuff dreams/nightmares/legends are made of!
Another tight encountered followed as Fenerbahce grabbed a goal to take the tie into extra time. With but moments of the game remaining, the inevitable happened. Galatasaray score and make it 2-1 on aggregate to win the Turkish cup.
Now, for most, winning the domestic cup against your fiercest rivals on their home ground, weeks after pipping them to the league would be quite sufficient. But not for Souness.....
The mad bastard, for reason surely only known by him, decides to rub some large rock salt into an already gaping wound! Souness produces a Galatasaray flag and proceeds to run, full tilt towards the centre circle and plant the flag bang in the centre spot, like some bizarre Neil Armstrong on crack! needless to say, a near riot ensues and Souness is declared a hero amongst the Galatasaray faithful forever. A more ill-judged move on a football pitch has surely not been seen before or since.
So next time you are watching manager-bot 3.5 give his next mind numbing post match interview, take solace in the fact that football has given us this exceptional moment and that we can all bask in it's glory for all time. 

Monday, 11 April 2011

Seaside special: The Gus Bus and Holloway's Helicopter

B.E.A utiful - Brighton's finest - or is it?
A-Ha once said that "The Sun always shines on TV". But the Norwegian pop synth legends failed to mention that the sun is far less frequent on our British shores. 
The last week or so has been an exception, with our big yellow friend peaking his giant face out of the clouds to shower the UK in glorious sunshine. Of course, being British, we assume (probably correctly) that this is the only sunshine we will see all year, grab our buckets and spades and head of to the seaside where we indulge in general drinking, smoking and straight south coasting. 
But there may be a better reason to head to the coastal regions this year rather than just eating callipo's and getting fingered under the pier. A couple of the country's coastal sides are getting there fan's excited, but for very different reasons. 
Home of Brighton pier, the royal pavilion and of course, the gay. 
Brighton and Hove Albion FC - A team that have put their loyal support through a lot over recent years. After the sale of the Goldstone ground, a subsequent ground share with local (ish) counterparts Gillingham and years of yo-yo-ing between the divisions has left the seasiders fans bewildered and bemused. The fact that they have been playing their football at one of the football league's worst grounds has probably also not helped the cause. However, out of the darkness has emerged the god like figure of the ever likeable Gus Poyet. Ably assisted by another ex premier league heavyweight in Mauricio Taricco and Brighton legend Charlie Oatway (or to give him his full name Anthony Philip David Terry Frank Donald Stanley Gerry Gordon Stephen James Oatway - Don't ask) Brighton have been playing a brand of football not seen since the halcyon days of the early 1980's, when Brighton were a Gordon Smith finish away from Beating Ron Atkinson's Manchester United to the FA cup. 
The tactical nous of Poyet alongside some shrewd signings (mainly former Leeds keeper Casper Ankergren) have seen Brighton run away with League 1 this season, and with the new state of the art 25,000 seater stadium at Falmer ready to greet them into the championship, the future looks brighter than ever for those blue and white striped scamps from the south coast.

Now, join me on the Gus Bus as we travel north to our next seaside destination.....
The boys from Bloomfield road have been living a tangerine dream this season. Although the season has arguably seen more down's than up's the Blackpool fans have relished the challenge of even rubbing shoulders with the best teams in the land. The team, manager and fans have all approached their inaugural premier league season in exactly the right manor. Low expectations and high enjoyment! 
This coupled with Ian Holloway's insistence on the team attempting to play decent, attacking football has also meant that the 'Pool have upset the apple cart on more than one occasion. An opening day demolition of Wigan, win's over Newcastle, Tottenham and the famous double over Liverpool have sent the Bloomfield road faithful into a giddy glee!
Ok, the lack of consistency and a clear niaveity will probably result in relegation. But honestly, can any team say that they have had more fun along the way !
Now let's all slap on the factor 50 and go grab an ice cream, last one to the arcade's is a bender!