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REBEL HEART EXTRACT: They began... HISSING... all 30,000 of them

December 7th, 2021 10:04 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Cork City legend John Caulfield has released his memoir, Rebel Heart.

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In this extract from John Caulfield’s new autobiography, Rebel Heart, Cork City’s record appearance holder, record scorer and most successful manager of all time revisits 1993 when City visited ‘Hell’ in the European Cup 

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WE DIDN’T KNOW a lot about Galatasaray as a team because Turkish football didn’t have the pedigree of other nations in Europe at that time. Galatasaray were rich, they had German owners and had bought a player, Kubilay Türkyilmaz, for over one million pounds from Bologna that summer. 

But Turkish football was well down the list of European countries when it came to pedigree. They were like a grade three country for football – Ireland beat them twice in qualifying for Euro ’92 – 5-0 at home and 3-1 away. 

When we got them in the draw, people were saying to us, ‘Oh, Jesus, Turkey. That’s a dangerous place!’ It was incredibly hostile, extremely rough. 

But that’s what helped make it such a great trip. 

Turkey was probably the best European trip we ever had, even better than Bayern Munich. To this day, I have never experienced an atmosphere at a game like the one that we had in Istanbul. It was a totally unique experience, bordering on surreal, from the moment we arrived. 

 

WE HAD A man with us, named Jerry Harris. Jerry was our kitman, a brilliant guy who stuck with Cork City and Cork football back to the days of Cork United; he’d been close with Noel O’Mahony. 

Every time we went on a European trip, Jerry would get crates of Guinness to bring with us. We would bring around 20 or 30. This was the norm, as there was a massive drinking culture in the league at the time. 

On the day we arrived at the hotel, Manchester City were there. They were over for a friendly game against Fenerbahçe. They were sitting on the steps of the hotel as we arrived, about to go to training. 

A few of us knew Niall Quinn, the Ireland centre-forward, who played for them. Quinny and the Man City lads were stunned when we pulled up in the bus. Jerry got off and asked the lads to bring in a crate each. We began unloading the crates of Guinness and made our way past them into the hotel. All the Man City lads were looking at us, open-mouthed, wondering... Are they not here to play a Champions League match? 

Quinny was laughing, going, ‘Ah, stop it, lads!’ 

 

 

GALATASARAY HAD A handful of Turkish internationals in their squad, a Swiss international, and a Swedish international. They were a very good team. 

In the UEFA Cup the previous season, they beat Roma and they were always pretty formidable at home. I don’t think any European team had beaten them in Turkey. It was only when we went over that we realised exactly why they were so strong at home. The intimidation was absolutely savage, although not before the match. 

They couldn’t have been nicer to us before the game. We were brought on a tour around some sights in Istanbul. We went on a cruise up the Bosporus, and had lunch overlooking the Black Sea. We were also brought through the Grand Bazaar, the huge market in the city. 

We all had our Cork City gear on, so the street traders in the market knew who we were. They all started clapping for us. But they were chanting... ‘5-0... 5-0... 5-0.’ 

The newspapers that morning said Galatasaray were going to beat us by that number of goals... 5-0. We were expected to lose heavily. 

Galatasaray aides were with us. They were helpful and nice to us. We were no threat to them, so it was good PR for the club. 

We were told that, if we had been a high-profile team, we would have never been given that treatment. We didn’t take offence. We were on another ‘holiday’. 

 

THE ALI SAMI YEN Stadium was nicknamed ‘Hell’ by the Galatasaray supporters. It was a bowl-shaped ground, with two high tiers and was a sea of yellow and red on the night. The noise was astonishing. 

On the night, the attendance was around 30,000 – there were 20,000 in the ground when we arrived two hours before the game. The atmosphere was electric, the noise, the singing. 

Their supporters never stopped from the time we went out for the warm-up. They were chanting and chanting... and chanting.
It was relentless.
At the time, we didn’t know a lot about Galatasaray, other than the club was 

rich and paying big money for players. Some of their players went on to have great careers. Hakan Şükür was their centre-forward. He went on to score a load of goals for the Turkish national team and played all over Europe. They had a guy called Kubilay Türkyilmaz, who was of Turkish descent but declared for Switzerland and scored a lot of goals for them. 

Tugay Kerimoğlu, who went on to play for Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League, was in midfield. He was such a gifted player. And they had all of these other lads who played international football for Turkey.

Some of them were in the national team 10 years later when Turkey finished third at the World Cup. At that point though, they were unknown to a lot of people in western Europe. 

 

WE HAD OUR chances in the first-half. For such a talented team, they were a little bit loose at the back. After five minutes, Anthony Buckley had a shot saved and he had another effort on goal a few minutes later. We had a goal ruled out for offside, too. 

Tommy Gaynor rounded the goalkeeper and put the ball into the net, but it wasn’t given. It was something of a marginal call. 

You could see why the Irish international team would go to places like Turkey or in eastern Europe at this time and they would get a raw deal from the referee. The refs weren’t going by the same rules because the intimidation was incredible. 

Galatasaray supporters are known for their vocal home support.

 

But Galatasaray still dominated the game. They scored a good goal before half-time. Kubilay collected the ball outside our penalty area from a free-kick, took a few touches and buried it past Phil Harrington in goal. 

The crowd erupted. The noise deafening. They made a sound I had never heard before or since after a goal. It was like a wail... a deafening howl. I could feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It was just electric. We did well to reach half-time only 1-0 down. 

 

THEY UPPED THE intensity in the second-half, and got a second goal, which may have been marginally offside. But there was no way the referee was going to rule this one out. 

Tugay nonchalantly played a 35-yard pass with the outside of his boot over our defence to Kubilay. He controlled it and laid it back across the box for Arif Erdem to score. 

Again... deafening noise. More... HOWLING!

The supporters let off fire-crackers and flares. It looked like the stands were on fire. The noise and the colour was stunning. At this point, also, the crowd were baying for blood. They wanted to see five or six, or seven goals. Galatasaray were absolutely battering us. Kubilay and Şükür both had shots that smashed off the crossbar – one of the shots was so hard the crossbar rattled for a good 30 seconds after impact – and Phil Harrington was forced to make a couple of fantastic saves. 

I have no doubt that if they had got a third goal, they would have won 5-0, or 6-0.  But, defensively, they were a bit loose, quite casual, and we were getting a few half-chances on the counter attack. 

On the few occasions we did break forward, it looked a bit like we were causing them problems. So, strangely, because they were so dominant, we always felt that there was a chance. And we got it just after an hour of play. 

Phil took a goal-kick, cleared it up the pitch and the ball landed to Dave Barry about 10 yards from their penalty area. Dave went past one player, jumped over another tackle in the box and was forced slightly wide. He swung his leg and crossed the ball back for Pat Morley, who was in the centre on the six-yard line. 

Falko Götz, their German midfielder, stuck his leg out trying to cut the pass out and deflected the ball into the net. 

2-1. We had an away goal. 

The change of mood in the ground was the most incredible I ever experienced at a match. For the first time since about two hours before the game, when most of the crowd arrived, the supporters stopped singing. It was like a switch had been flicked. And another, entirely different noise. 

They began... HISSING... all 30,000 of them. 

Galatasaray didn’t want the ball, none of them. They were passing the ball sideways and backwards, looking for someone else to take responsibility. 

The crowd were now completely on their backs. All of Galatasaray’s fluid play went out the window, their intensity dropped... they were rattled. 

As the game went on, they started getting very frustrated. There were a few dives looking for penalties and free-kicks, gesturing to the referee. Şükür had one or two half-chances. We were camped on the edge of our box, just chasing them down and clearing the ball when we got it. 

But we hung on. 

 

WHEN THE FINAL whistle went, we all started celebrating. Some of the lads were so exhausted, they dropped to the ground. 

It was an unbelievable result. An away goal, in that atmosphere, against such an accomplished team. 

We were all celebrating, hugging each other. 

The lads were going, This is amazing... 2-1... and they have to come back to our place. We got out of jail here’. 

Galatasaray looked totally deflated – the crowd were absolutely raging. The whole atmosphere was extremely hostile. The hatred was astonishing. It was vicious. The entrance to their dressing-rooms, which were underground, was down a dark, narrow tunnel behind one of the goals. There were police officers lining the way. They were very aggressive towards us as we made our way down the steps and into the tunnel. Pushing and shoving us. Mouthing at us. It was intimidating.

We couldn’t leave the dressing-room for an hour after the match. We had to wait until the crowd had all left. When we eventually got outside, one of the windows of our bus had been smashed. The Turks had won the game, but it didn’t feel like that. Galatasaray expected to win by five or six goals. No one associated with the club was happy about the result. 

The club had given us two aides who were helping us around. They had been very helpful and friendly. 

But when we were all getting on the bus celebrating, high-fiving each other, you could see the anger in the aides’ eyes. They did not want to be on our bus, but they had an obligation to bring us back to our hotel. 

They couldn’t speak with the rage. It smacked of viciousness. It was incredible, because they had been so nice to us. We had never experienced anything like this. The City lads couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel, to get ready and go out. This was why we were in Europe, amongst other things... for the night out after the game. This was what we lived for, especially after such a positive result.

But we were advised not to leave our hotel. They told us it wouldn’t be safe if we went out and if we were identified. If any Galatasaray supporters saw us, they wouldn’t be clapping for us as they had been in the market. 

So, we spent the night in the hotel bar. It turned out that the staff in the bar were Besiktas and Fenerbahce supporters. They were all delighted for us. It wasn’t a bad night at all. 

 

OUT OF ALL the European games in which Cork City played, Galatasaray at home was the first time that we all agreed... ‘You know what... we have a chance against these fellas!’ 

They were the first big team we thought we could beat. We were going to each other... We really have a chance against these lads’. 

They were obviously better than us. But they were loose at the back and wouldn’t like playing at Bishopstown. 

No one liked playing at Bishopstown. It was a bog. Turner’s Cross wasn’t great at the time, but it had at least been a pitch, it had a decent surface. At Bishopstown, there was a field and a stand around it. They then put up a fence, goalposts and a dug-out. 

We had to play the match on a Wednesday afternoon because there were no floodlights installed. It was on the outskirts of Cork, about four miles from the city centre. Bishopstown didn’t have a car park. There was no by-pass near the ground, so it wasn’t convenient for people coming out. 

The move to the ground was deeply unpopular with City supporters, and there were a lot of arguments about it. It was miles out for people who lived in the city. The idea was to develop it into a modern facility, but that never happened. 

The stand had to pass an inspection. The FAI were talking about potentially moving the match to Dalymount Park in Dublin, if the stand wasn’t fit for purpose. The pitch, which was incredibly heavy already, was made worse by it being a wet, windy day. The conditions were horrible, which helped us though. 

 

BEFORE THE MATCH, the Galatasaray players came out and had a look around the ground. They had never seen anything like this. 

They weren’t used to playing in the rain and wind, on such a bumpy surface. Bishopstown was a million miles from anything they would have ever expected, or experienced. 

Galatasaray had arrived in their own private plane and now they were getting ready in the ESB centre because we had no changing rooms. 

We could see them walking around the pitch, in their yellow jackets, red slacks and shoes. They were looking at the surface with a mixture of disgust and bewilderment, getting muck on their nice, clean shoes. 

Obviously, none of us could speak Turkish, but it looked like they were saying to each other... The absolute state of this place!!! 

And they thought their ground was ‘Hell’. 

We could see they really didn’t fancy it; it was written all over their faces and in their body language. 

Even more, we were thinking... This is our big chance! 

There were 7,000 at the match, and a few more standing outside the far fence trying to get a look. Around 500 or so Galatasaray supporters travelled over and, in fairness, they made a fair bit of noise. 

The atmosphere wasn’t as hostile for the Turkish players in Bishopstown as it had been in Istanbul for us, of course. Nothing could be. 

But it was still brilliant in its own way, and we could really sense the excitement. We heard there were around 40 Turkish media personnel over too. It felt like a massive game – even if RTÉ didn’t show the game live, only on a highlights show that night. 

It was the biggest match in Cork City’s history given what was at stake. Cork football was on the big stage, against a good European team, with our destiny in our own hands and a real chance to cause a massive upset. Considering where we had been just a few years previously – all the different iterations of Cork teams over the years – this was a proud moment for everyone associated with the club and football in Cork. 

Although, that’s not something you reflect on before kick-off, with the rain coming down, the wind whipping across the ground and the Galatasaray players up to their knees in muck on the pitch. 

It was a very tight game. 

We had a couple of half-chances in the first-half and troubled them on set- pieces – we were quite unlucky with one header, and Declan Hyde had a shot that was deflected over. 

It was tit-for-tat. We certainty didn’t have our backs to the wall as we would have in other European games. We got stuck in amongst them. Galatasaray were very technical and were trying to play out from the back and through midfield. 

But it just didn’t work in Bishopstown. The pitch made it difficult. The ball bobbled and bounced, and scuffed off the surface. We were able to close them down and get tackles in, disrupt them. We got to half-time at 0-0 and we were all buzzing. We now genuinely believed Galatasaray were there for the taking. 

I’ll never forget that half-time. In the changing room we were all saying, ‘Right lads... we need to go for this in the second-half. 

‘This lot can be taken!’

One goal from us! And we’d be through on away goals.

But Rico was saying, ‘No, lads... we just need to keep everyone behind the ball’. We were adamant though – Galatasaray were there for the taking. This great team, with all these international players, double-winners with one million pound players in their team, World Cup stars... they were there to be beaten by us, a team of part-time players, most of us getting 40 or 50 quid a week. 

We had the chance to win it. We were all disagreeing with the manager. ‘We need to go for this.’

‘We need to put two up front.’

We were pleading. 

Rico wouldn’t agree to it. 

 

DAMIEN’S LACK OF experience on the day possibly influenced his decision. He just didn’t see the opportunity that was there for us. 

In the second-half, we came out of the blocks raring to go again and caused them plenty of trouble for the first 20 minutes or so. We had half-chances where we could have scored. Dave Barry and Tommy Gaynor had decent efforts, and there were three or four times when the ball broke and on any other day, any one of them could have gone in. 

Our best chance came after about an hour. 

Fergus O’Donoghue launched the ball down the pitch. Tommy held off his marker and headed the ball onto Pat Morley, who got it down before it broke for Anthony Buckley. Buckley took it past the defender and into the box. 

The goalkeeper raced off his line. Anthony shot... with his left foot, at angle from about six yards or so. The net shook and the crowd behind the goal let out a big cheer – we could see some of the umbrellas people were holding pitched up and down as supporters were celebrating. 

The ball hit the side netting, though. It was the closest we came on the day to scoring. On another day, it may have gone in. We had the ball in their half with a throw-in 15 minutes from the end. Dave Barry collected the ball and played a loose pass in midfield.

Galatasaray got to it first. Şükür played it off to Tugay, who played a first-time pass with the outside of his boot down the middle of the pitch and in behind our defence for Kubilay to chase. Kubilay was too fast, he was never going to miss. He raced onto the end of the pass, took a touch and finished past Phil Harrington with the outside of his boot. 

It crushed us. 

The Galatasaray players ran off and celebrated at the side of the pitch, and their supporters made a lot of noise. The celebrations weren’t faked either. 

They were delighted. The Turks knew they had gotten out of jail. We were gutted. Damien then made some substitutions and tried to change it. But the game was over. This was our chance. I always look back at that game and think... We could have created a bit of history there. 

And then, Galatasaray drew Manchester United in the next round. It hit home even more. The hurt and disappointment doubled. 

We missed out on the chance to play at Old Trafford and to bring Man United over to us for a competitive game. 

There was a rumour at the time that Alex Ferguson asked Denis Irwin about us, in relation to Galatasaray and how Man United might get on. Denis apparently said something like, ‘Well the lads back home did well against them... and sure they’re only part-time. They wouldn’t be great.’ 

The craic for us at the time with Man United fans around Cork was... ‘You guys are lucky you didn’t get us, we might have knocked you out!’ 

We never thought that Galatasaray would knock Man United out. United were a serious team at this stage; they had just won the Premiership and would win the double that season. 

But Galatasaray did knock them out. 

They had that famous game in Istanbul. The first leg ended 3-3 at Old Trafford and Galatasaray got a 0-0 draw at home... United were out. 

Eric Cantona got sent-off and there was a scuffle going down the tunnel – Cantona and Bryan Robson were said to have been hit and punched by the police in the tunnel. 

The Turks denied it, but we were watching it back home going, ‘That definitely happened... that was them!’ 

We had witnessed how they behaved when we were in the stadium. 

The Man United result really hammered home how well we had done against Galatasaray. 

Unlike them, we actually managed to score in Istanbul, in that atmosphere with referees who did not want to help the away team at all! 

But, again, the City players really felt we had missed a golden opportunity. The fans and the press thought we had been brilliant, that we had gone so close. Everyone thought we had been unlucky. 

It was a typical Irish moral victory in many ways. 

But, deep down, the City team felt that there had been a real chance, that we could have done them, that we could have done more in the game. Of course, there was an obvious talent gap between the teams, and they would only ever have needed one chance to beat us. 

But Damien’s lack of experience was also a factor. He was a very positive manager, but that was his first experience in Europe as a coach. At that point, we were an experienced team. We were a serious team in our right. 

As a group, we had already been in Europe. 

We had played good sides and, when you do, you get a sense sometimes... You know what, there’s a chance here!’ 

Galatasaray was that big chance. 

Rebel Heart by John Caulfield (with Robert Redmond) is published by Hero Books and is available in all good book stores (priced €20). The book is also available on amazon.com for League of Ireland fans throughout the world as a printed book or ebook.

 

 

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