Porto 2012-13 Away Shirt

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This shirt just happened to be at the store where I got the Galatasaray shirt posted earlier, and–like any addict–I couldn’t stop myself. Thankfully, collecting jerseys is a (relatively) harmless addiction. Interestingly enough, FC Porto were invited to the Emirates cup earlier this summer which Galatasaray won, so there is a tenuous connection between the two shirts, at least for this season. Perhaps Galatasaray will meet Porto later in the season!

Despite having a Porto shirt already, one from the 1990s, it was the colors of this shirt that drew me too it, and the purple hoops add a special dimension to the design. Also, I enjoy sponsorships on the sleeves since they add a unique visual flare to some shirts–this is one such shirt, due to the black on the ends of the sleeves that match the sponsor patches.


Galatasaray 2012-13 Away Shirt

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I’ve decided to put up pictures of other shirts as I get them, even if they don’t involve some sort of adventure. This is Galatasaray’s away shirt from last season. I had gotten the yellow and red one last year, and when I found this one deeply discounted I decided to add it to the collection as well. I think it is a nice design, even if I am sure that the first time I wear it I will get it dirty–I like to stay away from white shirts, since I wear them. Another reason I got this shirt is that I couldn’t get the Shakhtar shirt with a similar design while in Ukraine, so Its a sort of compensation I suppose.



Galatasaray 1996-97 Home Shirt L/S, Match Worn

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He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them one by one before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher—shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple green and lavender and faint orange with monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly with a strained sound Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily.

            ‘They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such—such beautiful shirts before.”

                                                                          -F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


In front of the TV in a crowded hookah café watching Galatasaray face Bursaspor in the second round of the Turkish Super League season, I’m sweating in the late August night. It’s not the stress of the match making me sweat—I know there are still 32 matches to go in the long marathon that is a European football season—rather, it is the long sleeved jersey I am wearing that makes me sweat. Yet, it is totally worth it. It is a beautiful example of a shirt, from an era that quality won over quantity; from the 1996-1997 season to be exact.

It is an Adidas shirt, in the classic red and yellow quartered pattern that Galatasaray still wear today, even if the yellow became orange somewhere down the line. Around 2005, perhaps. The sponsor—Vakıf Bank—is sewn onto the front, the back has the official player’s sized number 11 (belonging, then, to Swiss striker Adrian Knup—now it is Didier Drogba’s) in felt. I feel the line where the red meets yellow. It is two pieces of thick fabric sewn together, a fabric not meant to cope with summer heat. My fingers can feel the special nature of the shirt, a far cry from the mass produced Nike line Galatasaray are wearing on the television, with sleek dri-fit fabric designed to keep the players cool. It isn’t to say, of course, that the new jerseys are bad. They are just, different. From different eras, before and after Industrial football came to Turkey, and with it multi-million dollar sponsorship deals. In the face of modern jerseys, this one is comical. It is an extra large and definitely match worn—but back then the players were smaller, and the sizing reflects that. It would now be sized a large.

As my fingers feel the fabric on my back my thoughts move from the game to Gatsby, and Daisy’s reaction to his shirt collection. I can feel a bond with Gatsby, one that goes beyond the pages and the years, but down to the human nature of collecting memories. Every football season, every goal, every foul, every shirt is a memory in and of itself. I was ten years old when this shirt was worn by Adrian Knup. Who would have known then that Galatasaray would go onto become UEFA cup champions, and one of the best sides in Europe for a spell. And now, that shirt is on my back, almost two decades later.

I get back to the match. Galatasaray are up 1-0 thanks to a goal by striker Burak Yılmaz, the man who has taken the nickname “Kral”, or “King”, from Hakan Şükür, the striker that starred for Galatasaray and Turkey in the late 1990s. He later became the Turkish Super League’s leading goal scorer, now he is an MP for the AKP—a move that has lost him more than a few casual fans. For me, he will always be the football star of my youth, even if I might not agree with him politically. After the “king’s” goal the tempo slows and mid-way through the second half Drogba is taken off, a questionable move to all of us watching. Indeed, the loss of a pressing forward up front allows Bursaspor to mount their attacks from the back, wave on wave crashing into the Galatasaray defense—a levy waiting to be breached.

The expected goal comes in the 74th minute, Bursaspor equalizing through substitute Enes. Two minutes after coming on, at sixteen he became the youngest goal scorer in Turkish Super League history. The happiness on his face was unmistakable; he was still a child, his jersey number 97 represented his birth year. Even though Galatasaray lost a victory on the night, I felt happy for the young man who had scored his first career goal; a young man who had not even been born when Adrian Knup wore the number 11 shirt on my back. But such is football as it mirrors life—the saying in Turkish, from a Turkish film about football, is “Futbol acayip şekilde hayata benzer”—“Football is strangely similar to life”.

I felt like someone driving down the highway, hearing their favorite rock and roll band on the classic rock station for the first time. It might not have made me feel old, necessarily, but it gave that unmistakable sense of time passing. Small moments like this—of realizing the passage of time—are what growing up truly is. It is coming to terms with life, and with it the knowledge that nothing is eternal. The “king” will not always be Hakan Şükür, the youngest goal-scorer in history will not always be Enes. As we know well, this too shall pass.


My unending thanks to Taylan Meşin for the Galatasaray shirt mentioned here, pictures are below.

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Who are the drunk ones? Turkish Super Cup Final 2013

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Last night Galatasaray defeated Fenerbahce 1-0 after extra time in the final of the Turkish Super Cup, which pitted League Champions Galatasaray against city rivals Fenerbahce, holders of the Turkish Cup. The match itself was a fairly boring affair that produced no goals in the 90 minutes until Didier Drogba’s bullet header in the 99th minute found the back of the net, and the cup, for Galatasaray.

Like so much in Turkey, however, once the score had been settled the focus was on off the field events. For the first time at a sporting event, Turkish traffic police brought breathalyzers to the stadium and subjected those fans they suspected of consuming alcohol to breathalyzer tests. Those over the 50 Promil limit, the equivalent of one beer, were not admitted into the match. My mind immediately went to the match I attended in Kiev, where I consumed two beers in the stadium alone. And those two beers did not incite me to start throwing anything inside the stadium–bottles, coins, lighters, or punches. But, apparently, in Turkey consuming one beer before a sporting event could incite one to do just that. Having been to many football matches in Turkey I can safely say that fan violence does not need alcohol as an instigator. So why has the government decided to go to such draconian measures at this point in time?

Just last week Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler announced that political slogans would be banned in soccer stadiums during the upcoming season, fallout from the Gezi Park protests, in which the Carsi group–the hard core fans of Besiktas–played a prominent role. Before the Super Cup final–which was played in President Abdullah Gul’s hometown and AKP stronghold Kayseri–the warning regarding political slogans was reiterated. Of course, what constitutes a “political slogan” remains open to debate, but that hasn’t seemed to bother the government as of yet, and they have decided to not only curtail freedom of speech, but also the freedom to consume alcohol outside of a sporting event.

After the match, while photographs proliferated on the internet of police administering alcohol tests at the gates, another interesting story broke. Apparently, the Turkish Football Federation mixed up the medals, with Fenerbahce’s players receiving the winner’s medals while Galatasaray’s players were left with runner’s up medals…despite winning the match 1-0. It begs the question, who exactly are the drunk ones? Those at the Football Federation, or the fans? Whatever happens it is clear that this season will be a difficult one for the authorities to deal with, and the nervous tension was evident from the number of black clad riot police ringing the stands during the game. Such tension may prove to be well-founded; after the game there were pictures of Galatasaray fans celebrating their cup success on Istanbul’s Taksim square alongside Fenerbahce fans.






FC Zorya Luhansk 2011-12 Home Shirt, Matchworn

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This is another beautiful shirt, a match worn Zorya Luhansk shirt worn by ex-Dinamo Kiev Striker Nigerian Lucky Idahor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucky_Idahor). While I did not get this shirt in Luhansk, the story is still interesting. I returned to the Dinamo store where I had gotten the goalkeeper shirt a day earlier in order to inquire about the availability of an Arsenal Kiev shirt anywhere in the city. I was told that there was no such store, as Arsenal Kiev (the former CSKA Kiev) did not even have a stadium or fans so as to have a store. When they heard that I had a collection of football shirts, however, an old man called me into a back room, took out a plastic bag and started throwing the match worn shirts of various Ukrainian teams onto a table like Gatsby. My heart started beating fast and I started to tear up since I was in some sort of heaven and, once I beat back the tears of joy and collected myself, I started inspecting the shirts. This was the only large the man had available; its interesting Nike design coupled with the Ukrainian premier league badge on the right arm and cyrillic characters for the name made it an obvious choice.

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FC Dinamo Kiev 2012-13 Goalkeeper Shirt, Matchworn

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This is a very nice shirt. It is a match worn/player issue goalie shirt of 4th(!) goalkeeper Heorhiy Buschan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heorhiy_Buschan). The material is thicker than that of a normal shirt, and it is Formotion–always the hallmark of a player issue shirt. The Ukrainian League badge on the right arm and Mitsubishi sponsorship on the left arm add an extra aura of authenticity to this shirt. Another good find, especially since I attended one of their matches.

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FC Obolon Kiev Home Shirt

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This is (what I assume to be) the Obolon Kiev home shirt made by Puma. I was surprised the second division team had a store, and I was even more surprised to find that their shirt was, at 345 Ukrainian Gryvna, more expensive than the shirt of a first division team. It is manufactured by Puma with sponsorship from Carling, even though the team is owned by the Obolon Brewery. Whats also interesting is that, given the shade of green and the cross on the badge, this shirt looks more like that of an Irish team than of a Ukrainian team.


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