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'.
The atmosphere was just deafening. As the first whistle went, the Besiktas end fell silent and did what I can