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Saturday 29th May 2010 ko 18.45

London Turkish League Invitation Cup Semi-Final

GONYELI 2 (Cagin 64 Yagas 86)
AKINCILAR 2 (Turkman 45 McKenzie 70)

Att 155

@ Coles Park, Tottenham (Haringey Borough FC)

Entry FREE
Tournament Brochure FREE
Raffle £2

For this look back into the archives sees one of the more bizarre games I’ve ever seen, and roots of it all lie in a traffic jam.

I’d had a day watching Bethnal Green A, followed by a shoot-out for the Essex Olympian League title at Buckhurst Hill, but then groundhopping sage Brian Buck let me know there was the possibility of a third game, at Haringey Borough. With Swindon Town having just lost a play-off final at Wembley, I reasoned that the traffic on the North Circular would be dreadful, so the only reasonable course of action was to go and watch a game of football. Haringey’s ground has the distinction of being in White Hart Lane, while their more famous neighbours Tottenham Hotspur do not, their stadium being in Tottenham High Road.

I arrived at Coles Park with half the first semi-final still to play so I opted to spend the second half establishing exactly what I was watching. It was a four team tournament consisting of the Northern Cypriot League and cup winners against their equivalents in the London Turkish League. Our game was to between Gonyeli, the North Cypriot Cup winners and Akincilar the London league winners.
It felt like the nearest you can get to watching a game abroad, whilst remaining in England. Everyone was either Turkish or Northern Cypriot, and no one was speaking English. However you couldn’t fault the hospitality, it was just that everything was in a state of chaos. To give you an idea of just how chaotic, the scheduled kick off was 6.00pm but the game actually kicked off at 6.45, and I had a nightmare getting the lineups!
It was worth the effort, as the entertainment was first class. Both sides played excellent passing football despite an appalling bumpy pitch. Trouble is, neither side were remotely in control of their own emotions. Gonyeli argued every single decision, however trivial, and Akincilar at one point were indulging in a spot of handbags, with each other!

Slightly against the run of play Akincilar took the lead with Turkman slotting home. Gonyeli replied with a beautifully flighted free kick, Cagin heading home. McKenzie stabbed home at close range for Akincilar, before substitute Yargas fired into the bottom left corner for Gonyeli to restore parity.

But it was in injury time when the fun really started. McKenzie dashed through, and in the had his shirt tugged, so referee Ron Albert correctly awarded a penalty to Akincilar. At this point the Gonyeli team, their bench, and their management went mad.

The referee frantically retreating was manhandled and at one point Akincilar’s players were protecting the officials! There was more than a touch of the Benny Hill Show as Mr Albert was chased around the pitch surround. Finally several of the Gonyeli players stormed off, and it took the intervention of members of the organising committee to coax them back out so the penalty could be taken. Eventually the players returned, so Mr Albert walked over the penalty spot with the ball but when the Gonyeli keeper refused point-blank to take his place, so the game had to be abandoned.

At that point, I left, thinking the entertainment had finished, and looked out for the result of the final, scheduled for the next day which I fully expected to include Akincilar, after all, it wasn’t their players that had caused the abandonment!

How wrong I was, Gonyeli were put in the final, I thought possibly because the other finalist was a representative of the London Turkish League. The truth only came out when I spotted referee Ron Albert running the line at a pre-season friendly a few weeks later. He was taking an extremely phlegmatic view of what happened, as he explained that the committee had decided to award the tie to their guests as, “They decided my performance wasn’t up to scratch!”

I’m not sure if I’d have been his position whether I’d have been quite so sanguine about it all, but maybe that’s why Mr Albert is a referee and I brandish a camera!