Fenerbache’s five minutes as Champions

16th May 2010. The climax of the Turkish Super Lig sees Bursaspor aiming to become only the second team from outside of Istanbul to win the title, and only the fifth team to lift the trophy in the history of Turkish football.

The Anatolian club, founded in 1963, could barely believe the position in which they found themselves. A win against Besiktas would present Ertugrul Saglam with a title in his first full season as manager if Fenerbache dropped points at home to Trabzonspor. All this after being cast aside by Besiktas themselves in late 2008, and with a tenth of the budget of his Istabul rivals at his disposal. His side of Turkish youngsters stood at the door of history, and prayed for a slip-up at the Sukru Saracoglu in Istanbul.

The standard procedure in reporting a rip-roaring final day of the season would be to focus on the missed chances, the late goals, the last-ditch tackles and the clattered woodworks. However, what occured in Istanbul in the early evening of Sunday distances itself from previous finales seen at Stamford Bridge or the Nou Camp this season by a long way. Let us skip to the 85th minute.

Bursaspor had done their part. A below-par Besiktas provided the Anatolians with a 2-1 victory, whilst Fenerbache were being held at Trabzonspor. From here, the drama off the field began to unravel. Inexplicably, the stadium announcer at Sukru Saracoglu proudly trumpets the news that Bursaspor were, in fact, drawing with Besiktas, handing the title to Fenerbache. The Istanbul side proceeds to pass the ball around nonchelantly for the final minutes, with their fans, coaches and players all expecting to be crowned champions at the next whistle. Upon this, the typical post-victory pitch invasion occurs, with fans celebrating amongst players and coaches alike. This continues for a full five minutes, until somebody decided to telephone a loved-one to spread the good news, and made the devasting discovery that the same celebrations were ensuing in Bursa.

Cue pandemonium. A drop in mood of astronomic proportions kicks in, as joy turns to tears, and then to ferocious stadium-burning anger. Seats are burnt, violence against security and police begins, and the hunt for an unfortunate stadium announcer is on. The riot continues to the streets of Istanbul, as water cannons and riot vans are dispersed to break up the crowd. The scenes differ wildly in Bursa, as no such confusion ensues, and the plucky side lift the trophy against all odds, and Turkish football stands proud as champions of the bizarre once again.

However, none of these shameful and ridiculous scenes should take away from what has been achieved at Bursaspor throughout 2009/10. They have scored the most goals, boast the best goal-difference and lost only five games throughout the season. They won four of their six games against Galatasaray, Fenerbache and Besiktas, drawing one and losing another, proving the extent to which they deserve their crown.

If there’s any doubt the scenes in Bursa will never be forgotten by Turkish football fans, there can be no question that the mysterious case of the mistaken stadium announcer in Istabul will be remembered in Turkey for a long time to come.

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