For Original 21 Melbourne (OM21), the announcement of AEK’s trip down under was as if all their collective Christmas’ had come at once.
These AEK fans regularly travel to Europe to see AEK play and have done so for years, but having the ‘dikefalo aeto’ on home turf is sure to be special for not only OM21 but AEK fans all over Australia.
AEK FC announced that the club would be honoured in a formal Government and Football Federation Australia welcome on Monday and that fans will have numerous opportunities in Sydney to meet the stars of AEK.
But as AEK was being put through their final paces prior to boarding their Sydney-bound airplane, Con Terzoglou, one of OM21’s founding fathers took time out to chat with Neos Kosmos ahead of AEK’s first match in the Sydney Festival of Football.
Terzoglou said OM21 had recently celebrated the club’s 8th birthday and the announcement of AEK’s tour was being considered as a ‘bonus’. “We are going strong after 8 years. We try to diversify club functions to keep things interesting because the reality is that we can not physically get to games as often as we’d like due to the distance. But at the end of the day, getting together to watch AEK, albeit on TV, is what keeps us together. As far as we’re concerned AEK coming to Sydney is a bonus to us all, and not something we ever seriously expected.”
Asked whether the OM21 guys had seen AEK in the past, Terzoglou explained, “Many of the guys in the club have seen AEK play numerous times in Europe. We have guys that went to games as far back as AEK – Rangers in the Champions League Qualifiers in 1994 but most of the OM21 guys have been going to Greece and Europe to see AEK since 2004 in the Greek League, Champions League, Greek Cup and the Europa League. And its not just football. We go to see AEK in basketball, volleyball and my personal favourite, handball. AEK is AEK regardless of the sport.”
“The matches taking place in Sydney restrict us somewhat, but all of the OM21 crew will be heading up if they are in Australia,” Terzoglou said.
“Everyone has different plans, some guys are going up with families, kids etcetera. Some guys are flying up for each game and others are going for the whole week. We plan on attending some training sessions, obviously all the games and we want to create an atmosphere worthy of AEK. Its been 30 years since AEK toured Australia and we want to make the most of it.”
OM21 is sure to be ready to put on a typically fanatical display for the AEK team, regardless of its numbers. Terzoglou explained that all AEK fans are welcome to join the party.
“We arranged with the Festival organisers and Ticketek to have a section for AEK fans only. We have arranged tickets in this section for not only OM21 people, but all AEK fans around Australia. All AEK fans are welcome. We have a few tickets left, so if anyone is interested they should email us ASAP,” Terzoglou finished.
Anyone interested in seats in the AEK fan section can get in touch with Original 21 Melbourne via email email@example.com.
AEK plays Sydney FC on Sunday July 25, Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday July 28 and Ranger FC on Saturday July 31 and all matches are at the Sydney Football Stadium.
AEK FC will officially be welcomed on Monday July 26 by representatives of the Government, Football Federation Australia and the other competing clubs. It is expected that AEK President Stavros Adamidis, coach Dusan Bajevic and the club’s captains including Trainos Dellas, Nikos Liberopoulos and Pandelis Kafes will attend.
A “Hospitality Center of AEK FC” has also been set-up by the club at the Sheraton Hotel (Darling Harbour) Monday 26th, Tuesday 27th and Thursday 29th July (between 10.00 – 18.00) along with Wednesday 28th July (between 10.00 – 16.00).
This specially designed site of the hotel will host the club, giving AEK fans the opportunity to purchase official products (including jerseys) and meet the AEK team.
Adamidis told Neos Kosmos last week, “It is our obligation to make every effort to get up close and personal with AEK fans in Australia.”
AEK players will also be visiting GOL the soccer store (located 317-319 Homer St, Earlwood – PH (02)9558-9911), Friday July 30, to meet fans, sign autographs and take pictures.