This morning, there was very little action on the Fethiye Spor boards until someone just posted a frowny face.
There’s a reason for that but we’ll get to it.
So I am not the most sporty person. I support the Baltimore Ravens, of course, ’cause they’re the best team in the whole world, but I’ve been known to file my nails during the super bowl. I never played sports, and my attention span doesn’t ever really reach an hour and a half. However, I got carried away by the Turkey’s for Life folks and agreed to go to a game, and BOY am I glad I did. Full disclosure- I watched very little of the game.
Mostly I was watching this guy:
That handsome man in the mustard shorts is Murat Bayat, king of the Apaçis. He has a real, grown up job- he’s a photographer at a hotel- but his passion in life is to come to Fethiye games and direct the apaçis in their endless, energetic chants.
For you otherlanders, an apaçi is a peculiar Turkish institution- part crazed football fanatic, part brave pioneer of men’s hairstyling (in Istanbul, at least), part lunatic dancer. In Fethiye, the apaçis are mostly young men- quite a few of them teenagers- either all wirey muscle or still with some baby pudge on em. They take their job very seriously. , and it was incredibly entertaining to watch them. At one point a scuffle broke out and Murat punished them- by making them sit down for, like, nine seconds.
It totally worked. Everyone was well-behaved after that. Well, until the end but we’ll get to that.
When they weren’t entertaining me, the opposition fans were.
It’s kind of a big deal for Fethiye that there WERE opposition fans in the seats at all. It shows they’ve really made it. This game was their first in their new league and you could kind of tell. The opposition (never caught the name of the team- it was shortened on the scoreboard) was sort of wiping the floor with them, unfortunately.
However, when the opposition fans weren’t entertaining me, the little boys who are so clearly going to be apaçis themselves were.
Man, no one loves football more than a little boy, I tell you what. They were whooping and hollering, cheering and (as the score went from nil 1 to nil 2 to nil 3 to-eek!- nil 4, increasingly) booing, pouring their whole hearts and souls into their reedy little voices.
When the apaçis and the opposition and the kids weren’t entertaining me a whole host of other little details did- like the family that came and put paper down on their seats before they sat down.
I see this kind of thing in Istanbul in winter a lot- everyone knows if a lady sits on a cold bench with only her coat and all her clothes between her and the cold surface, she will catch a cold in her lady parts and be unable to have children. But men? In summer? At a football stadium? Huh.
Of course it made a little more sense when I turned around and realized the people behind us had been spitting their sunflower seed shells onto our seats for god knows how long.
Then there was the apathetic cop, who kind of told people to get off the fence, once, and then shrugged and went back to his sunflower seeds.
Sometimes I even watched the game.
But mostly I watched the people.
Well, as the score got increasingly worse, people got increasingly angry. The chants went from benign things like Fethiye Spor is the best or what ever, and Support the Goal Keeper, to This is Fetiye, There’s no Way Out and probably worse. My Turkish isn’t very good especially when people are chanting.
Then they started throwing things- mostly lighters- on the fields. Then there was a disputed call and folks got into a fever pitch of unhappy shouting, and more things were thrown and a referee got hit in the head. Then there was nothing- the referees disappeared, the teams huddled together, the opposition practicing passes and Fethiye Spor standing around doing all but smoking cigarettes while the clock ran down.
At about twelve minutes to the end, the riot police came out on the field and escorted the opposition off field in a special protective tunnel.
As you can imagine, no one was much happy about that.
No one was sure when I left Fethiye this morning what the consequences would be, but there’s talk of fines and closed games.
Murat must be gutted.