Widnes-born United fan and Istanbul resident Mike Newby was desperate to see the Reds in his new home city... but could only get a ticket in the Besiktas end. Here's his story...
Since moving to Istanbul to teach English, I’d always intended to sample a local game – I figured this was the ideal opportunity being a lifelong Red.
Turkish fans come with a reputation for being, well, mental. I wanted to see for myself. There was little hope of an away ticket, so I chanced going in with the Besiktas fans – stupid or not, I wasn’t going to miss seeing United in my new home city.
The ground staff couldn't comprehend why I was going in the 'wrong' end, frantically pointing at the opposite side of the ground shouting: "Manchester"! One English-speaking guy asked if I was sure I wanted to go in. That’s when I thought I’d made a huge mistake - I don't exactly look Turkish. I reassured myself with advice from my Besiktas-supporting mates that I’d be fine as they save their energy for Galatasaray and Fenerbahce!
I tried not to draw attention to myself, but a few guys behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked where I was from. ‘Manchester,’ I mumbled. Big grins broke out on their faces. They had friends in Manchester and love the place. They also asked if it's true that every English man eats kebabs after a night out. I told them it was.
When United scored I was, how to put it, a bit scared. I’d tried to disguise my instinctive fist-pump as an angry gesture. The lads behind me just shook my hand and said 'well done'.