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Sunday 18th January 2015 ko 15.00

Greece Football League Notios (South)

APOLLON SMIRNIS 4 (Farionola 32 Kyvelidis 43 71 Wanderson 71)

ERMIONIDAS-ERMIS 2 (Papanikolaou 53 Koutsospiros 88)

Att c1500

Entry COMP

Club Newspaper FREE

Teamsheet FREE

The Athens metro train trundled north-east on the green M1 line, and we had a decision to make, which station was best for the Stadio Georgios Kamaras? We went for the shortest train ride, to Ano Patissia, and took a short taxi ride to the ground, only to find out the better option is Perissos one stop further north. All you have to from there is retrace the train’s route back for 300 metres along the adjacent road! Our arrival in a big yellow taxi did have one advantage though, it allowed club official Vangelis to spot us easily, and the welcome was as fulsome as it was unexpected.

Apollon are one of the oldest clubs in Greece. Like their great rivals Panionios the club was formed by the Greek community in Turkish Smyrna moving to Athens after the Greco-Turkish war in 1922. There is a bone of contention between the two clubs, and its down to who’s the oldest. Apollon were formed as a break-away from the Orpheus club in 1891. Orpheus had been founded a year earlier, but in 1893 members of Orpheus who wished the activities of Orpheus to be focused solely on sport withdrew and founded Panionios. There’s little doubt the Apollon were formed in 1891, but Panionios? Were they formed in 1890 or 1893? You decide!

Unlike their rivals, Apollon led a rather nomadic existence after moving to Athens. They first played at Stiles Olympiou Dios (Pillars of Olympian Zeus) near to the Greek Parliament before moving in 1948 to the purpose-built Georgios Kamaras Stadium in the district of Rizoupolis. Kamaras is a goalscoring legend for Apollon in the late 50’s and 60’s. The ground was borrowed by Olympiacos from 2002-2004 while their Karaiskakis stadium was being rebuilt.

But whilst all that history is interesting, it isn’t what I’ll remember Apollon for. No, that will be the welcome we got. It was an absolute pleasure to swap stories and learn about the history of the club that has played the majority of its football in the top flight, only being relegated at the end of last season.

The game saw 4th place Apollon play the 5th place visitors, and with the route back to the Superleague via a series of convoluted playoffs the club needed a win. Now if you read these articles you’ll know I do tend to jinx sides I go to watch, in fact the more friendly the club, the more I tend to be a malevolent influence! I took my seat, kept quiet, and hoped for the best.

And I’m pleased to say Apollon won despite me! Once they worked out that the visitors’ defence was suspect captain Paolo Farinola tore them apart. He scored one goal himself, then set up Leonidis Kyvelidis for another and Wanterson (not to be confused with the former GAIS and current Krasnodar forward Wanderson) for Apollon’s fourth. Kyvelidis’ first it’s fair to say the Ermnis keeper will choose to forget!

We enjoyed a beer or two with our new friends in the bar afterwards, and the buzz about the place was infectious. Hopefully they’ll find their way back to the Superleague soon, if only for the sake of the fans. It was with regret that we headed back to the metro; we had another game to watch.