You Will Walk Alone! Beşiktaş v Liverpool
I thought it would be a fantastic chance to watch Liverpool, the team I support, play Turkish side Beşiktaş while I was visiting Turkey on work last week. I had bought tickets to the game last month and was really excited, anticipating a great atmosphere and hopefully watching Liverpool build on their one-nil first leg lead and going through to the last 16 in the Europa League.
Getting to the stadium
The game was played at the Ataturk Stadium, also known as the Olymiyat Stati. This was the scene of Liverpool’s famous 2005 come from behind victory against AC Milan – the Miracle of Istanbul. Getting there was a real struggle. It is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by wasteland. A nightmare for football fans, as there were no restaurants, no easy train links, and no places to stay nearby. It is not Beşiktaş’ home ground, which is near central Istanbul and is being rebuilt at the moment.
Inside the Stadium
Getting inside was difficult. riot police were turning people away from the gates, even though they had tickets. there was a feeling of desperation in the air as fans tried to force their way past the police and stewards. When myself and my friend, Joe, finally got in to the ground we soon found out that our seats were taken. The Beşiktaş fans were packed into the ground, 70,000, and many had ignored their seats and crammed into the main stands. People were standing on the seats and packed into the stairs between the rows of seats. It was a sea of Beşiktaş fans.
The crowd were incredible. the noise was deafening; the singing and chants non stop. Beşiktaş colours, black and white, were everywhere and the atmosphere was very hostile. Every time a Liverpool player touched the ball their was a chorus of boos and hissing. Every time the referee gave Liverpool a throw in or a free kick, the same. When Beşiktaş had the ball the fans gave their full support with songs, chants and flares. Being a non Beşiktaş fan in the middle of the Black Eagles‘ fans was a very intimidating experience. A banner said ‘you will walk alone’, a version of Liverpool’s famous song, ‘You’ll never walk alone’. I certainly did feel alone.
Beşiktaş scored a fantastic goal to go level in the tie and after extra time won on penalties. For me, the result was the Beşiktaş fans were the winners. They drove their team on to victory in a game in which Liverpool, on paper, should have won.
build on: add to; increase something
the Miracle of Istanbul: this is now an accepted phrase referring to Liverpool’s Champions League final win against AC Milan
boos: loud noises showing displeasure
the Black Eagles: Beşiktaş’ nickname
packed: crammed; squeezed
drove ~ on: encouraged; supported; pushed forward
on paper: objectively; looking at each player versus his or her opponent