Well, I’m suitably tanned and relaxed and can see that Aapo’s done a fine job here while I’ve been away. Finally we know who is responsible for the rise of Islamism in Keski-Suomi.
Okay, the title is a bit crap, but it’s relevant, and I love a cheap joke. If you’re worried about the transparency and accountability of football administration, Greece would be a great place to start to feel better about your own country’s administrators. The match against Apollon Smyrnis was still in doubt up until the day before, as Aiolikos were trying to get a court injunction to postpone it. The reason being that Apollon had a points deduction for crowd disturbances and were appealing against it, and Aiolikos wanted to settle that before playing the game. That way they’d know what they needed to do.
Not to be, however. The game was filled with very slow players including a sweeper behind each defence. It finished 1-1 with both goals coming late on through defensive mistakes, the referee sent off three players and now the last relegation spot will be decided in the courts. It was a massive crowd of around 3,000, and everyone was gutted at the end. There was a great deal of pessimism among the Aiolikos fans that a remote island team whose prefecture usually elects communists would win a decision against Apollon Smyrnis, self styled ‘oldest sports club in Greece’.
The Aiolikos players theatrically threw things at the floor at the final whistle, and there would be plenty for conspiracy theorists to chew on if they viewed a tape of the match. The players don’t earn much at that level.
Still, it was a lovely day out. The fans kept up a constant barrage of flares and firecrackers, to the point where it became difficult to breathe because of the smoke, and the singing was much more melodic than it usually is in England.
The half time entertainment was quite brilliant, with a gap toothed fellow who spent most of the first half mouthing ‘I love you’ at my girlfriend being given a ball and told to go out on the pitch and entertain everyone. His coordination was terrible, his frame gangly, but his shots were surprisingly accurate. His impersonation of the histrionics that usually precede penalties was very well observed. After his performance the guy with the microphone handed over a packet of cigs and a few coins as payment. An idea for other clubs to follow, maybe?