Alright, so I’m not sure whether I should start with the positives, or the negatives from this match. Either way, I’m sure most of you have read about yesterday’s events by now.
So, the big day had come. For months I had been waiting for it, as I’m certain you all have also, and slowly the hours passed by, one by one, until it was time to finally head off to OAKA for my first time in almost five months. To be honest with you, I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about AEK match, possibly one of the derbies with Olympiakos from last season. Either way, we finally reached the stadium and things were looking good. Two hours before the game and already a very large crowd of AEK fans were there, with many more coming by the minute. Soon enough, both sections started to fill, ours with AEK fans, and the Atromitos one with their own fans who had arrived slower than us since they were forced to make their way to OAKA by organized busses. The atmosphere was fantastic from the start and I was feeling more pumped up than I ever had… however, the incidents began early. First it started with two AEK fans running to the Atromitos section to steal a banner (which they managed to do). Of course, Atromitos supports refused to sit back and let them get away with it, so some of their fans made their way onto the track surrounding the pitch. By this time however, a number of AEK supporters made their way to the Atromitos section and sure if enough some fighting occured, forcing the cops to get involved.
It wasn’t a pretty sight, however, who can say they weren’t expecting it. My father even said what we saw at the beginning wasn’t even close to what was experienced at AEK-OLY cup final a couple years ago…
Alright, so a few fights, flares (some being shot from flare guns) being thrown by each set of fans, however, eventually, the situation was brought under control and the game was allowed to start. The rest of the match (which I’ll discuss later) went on without too much trouble from what I remember. Sure, a couple minor incidents here and there I may have forgotten about, but before the end, the only incident worth mentioning that I can recall was the stoppage of the match for a few minutes due to flare smoke. Again, this was to be expected, its happened before, and if this was the only thing that happened, I would not have even considered it a big deal. Kakos eventually allowed the match to continue (possibly a little too soon in my opinion as the smoke obviously still managed to cause trouble for our guys in defence), and again, we managed to see some more football without too much trouble.
However, and this where the worst of it all began, towards the end a few fans (I prefer to refer to these guys as hooligans but fans is simply involves less writing) began making their way onto the pitch yet again. Why the cops sat by and let them walk around I do not know. Of course, these few fans were joined by others, and before we knew it, 50, 75, maybe 100 had made their way onto the track without even allowing the match to finish. And, knowing the trouble these guys have caused before (as well as similar thugs from pao, oly, paok, panionios… any team in this country for the most part), its safe to say a handful of them weren’t simply waiting to celebrate. Now, the match was stopped with around 5 or so minutes of extra time left to play, though I can’t remember if riots had started before the match had finished, or Kakos simply felt it wasn’t safe to play with so many fans so near to the pitch (by this time it was considerably above 100 fans, and many were literally on the pitch). So, Kakos blew his whistle, fans stormed the pitch (they were bound to any second now regardless of if Kakos had blown or not), some went to cheer on the players, some attacked police, some attacked Atromitos players, other attacked Atromitos fans, and from what I heard, many were attacking members of the Atromitos vips (though, I didn’t see this from where I was sitting… doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, my attention was just elsewhere at the time). Nobody was really sure if the match was called for fulltime, or if Kakos had intended for the players to return to the pitch to finish the remaining few minutes of extra time… either way, the pitch was no longer able to played on, adverts along the side and camera equipment was destroyed, and the nets had been completely torn off, so eventually the match was finally called, and AEK was awarded the cup…
Yes, we were awarded the cup, but by the end of the match I was in no way pleased or happy with what had happened. Even when we went to Nea Filadelfia after the match to join in with the celebrations, I simply couldn’t. Having said that, I often have to take a step back and consider everything else. Yes, some embarassing events took place, probably the worst I have ever witnessed, but we came a long way to reach this cup final, beating Larissa, PAOK, and PAO on the way here. Our players, especially guys like Georgeas, Dellas, Kafes, others, and, most importantly, LIBE, also deserved this cup. I know we had a terrible season, but some of these players have been with us for a while. Some were with us when our championship was taken away in ’08, others were with us when the Cup which was so close to being ours was snatched from our hands in ’09… nobody deserved some silverware more than some of these players.
And us fans, who have seen our team come so close to winning a trophy many times the past two decades, we also deserved this. But we deserved to enjoy it under better circumstances, without having a few thugs ruin it for the rest of us. I know its hard for me to feel completely satisfied with this Cup, though Im sure in a few days my anger at what happened will die down and I’ll be able to appreciate it more. Also, I do apologize for the fans who were more excited about it then I am, sorry to be so depressed about it all
Now, I said I’d talk about the match itself a bit, so I will do so. It wasn’t a great game of football by any means. Both teams took their time to make any impression, neither team seemed to want to risk much early on, and it was a while before the match developed any sort of pace. Despite a few chances being created, it wasn’t until later in the first half that the first goal was score by none other than the one and only, LIBEROPOULOS. A perfect cross from Scocco (left foot as well) leaving Libe with a perfect ball to head in to the net. Nothing made me happier than seeing this man, who has given everything for AEK, score the opener. There was talk of offside after the game… firstly, as if I care. With the number of onside goals we’ve had called for offside, with the number of favourable offside calls the reds (sure, others teams also, but we all know its mostly for the reds) have received, see if I care if its offside or not. This league is a joke, and now these reds, the biggest bandwaggon hypocrites to ever exist in the history of sport, have the nerve to call us out on this one goal? I have some words to say to them but I wont do so here.
Either way, offside or not, AEK were always clear favourites, despite what others may say. Sure, this is football. Its a beautiful sport where anything can happen, but all AEK needed to do was come out and play some decent football against a mediocre opponent and the result would take care of itself. And thats exactly what happened. Two goals, one from Baja and a beauty from Kafes, clinched the victory for us later in the second half. And had AEK came out stronger, and played the beautiful football we’ve seen her play in the past, the score would have been an embarrassment for Atromitos. Regardless, fair play to Atromitos (lets not get started on their coach though). They had to go just as far as we did to make it to the final, and for that alone they deserve some respect. They also came out and weren’t afraid to risk a bit during the game… there were certainly a few moments when they came very close to scoring.
Anyways, thats all I have to say. We won the Cup. We deserve it, even though I really can’t enjoy it as much as I’d like to. Ill post some videos and pictures later on. Please leave any comments in the comments section, I’d love to heard what all of you have to say for the game.