BBC SPORT | WORLD CUP 2002    BBC Sport >>   High Graphics >>
Front Page | Team Pages | Features | Other News | Sports Talk | History |
Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK

No delight for Turkish London

By Claire Hills
BBC News Online

As the roar went up to welcome the Turkish team onto the pitch a small, brave voice at the back of the crowd yelled cheekily "come on Brazil!"

Collective jeers and boos filled the crammed, hot TV room of the Galatasaray Supporters' Club in north London.

The young boy hauled himself up onto a pool table: "Only joking!" he squealed with a huge grin.

A pelting of plastic cups and Coke cans followed.

The 400-strong crowd had gathered in the club in Green Lanes - the heart of the Turkish community in London - to watch the World Cup clash against Brazil.

Green Lanes is a place where Turkish and Greek Cypriots live happily side by side, unlike in their homeland where a military-patrolled border still divides them.

And once again, on this sizzling hot day in London, where national pride was paramount, none of that division was evident.

The fans politely clapped the Brazilian national anthem and one even told me that Turkey were actually "doing it for England".

Er, how so?

"Well, you might be out," he explained, "but we can still fly the flag for Europe and someone needs to get Brazil back for you!

"We love living here and 4-0 would be our way of saying thank you to you all."

It wasn't a good time to tell him I secretly quite wanted Brazil to win.

So I smiled gratefully and turned back to the TV, though with Turkish-only commentary me, and the other bemused journalists could only really pick out the odd "Ronaldo".

There were a lot of those.

The songs, chants and cheers from the crowd inside were punctuated by the horns of passing cars outside - most of which were bedecked with flags and red and white ribbons.

Brothers Ugur, 14, and 11-year-old Guvenz Gungor of nearby Finsbury Park had confidently predicted a 1-0 win.

"We are going to get back at the Brazilians for beating us before," said the elder.

Meanwhile outside, Ahmet Bulut from Hackney - though originally from Yozgat in central Turkey - was a happy man. Regardless of the result, he was doing a roaring trade in 5-a-time 'Turkiye' emblazoned T-shirts.

"We are very proud to get this far," he said, "no matter what the score."

Fans dragged chairs and sofas from who knows where into the sweaty smoky social club-cum-pool-hall-cum-little corner of Istanbul.

They perched on top of fruit machines, counter tops and on each other's shoulders.

At half time, they prised themselves free and queues formed for kebabs and the famously strong coffee.

Over at the Jeylan barber's though, it was a game of a very different half.

Only one customer showed during the entire 90 minutes and that was only after he had checked the match was being shown on the salon's TV.

As the second half kicked off, the pavements emptied again of the drumming, chanting masses. Only a low groan could be heard seeping into the street from the bars, cafes and clubs minutes later as that man Ronaldo scored Brazil's only goal.

At the final whistle, the two brothers slumped outside blinking in the bright sunlight.

"Well, at least we got the 1-0 part right," Ugur grinned.


^ Back to top   © BBC