There’s a double-headed eagle on one side and, on the other, there’s the God of War.
This isn’t a Greek legend I’m talking about; it’s a football match. This is more than a regular football match for the people of Thessaloniki. It’s their passion to be victorious, one of the special moments they’ve been looking forward to all the year. If they can win, they will finally have fun and celebrate as if they’ve won a fight on the battlefield. This football match I’m talking about takes place between two of Thessaloniki’s big teams, PAOK and ARIS.
PAOK FC was founded in Istanbul in 1875 and later relocated to Thessaloniki, Greece, due to the Greco-Turkish War. This was on April 20, 1926. The PAOK club logo is a double-headed eagle, a former knight emblem. The club’s colors are black and white, also resembling an eagle. They have won the Greek league championship three times and the most recent one was in 2019.
ARIS FC was founded in Thessaloniki, Greece, in 1914. The club’s crest portrays Ares, the legendary god of war. The club’s name is also derived from Ares. Colors of the team are yellow and black, old colors of the Eastern Roman Empire, which ruled the city of Thessaloniki in ancient times. The ARIS team has won three Greek league championships; the most recent one was in 1946.
In Greece, matches between PAOK and ARIS are described as ‘’Thessaloniki Derbies’’ or ‘’The Derby of Macedonia’’. These derbies are passionate moments when fans from both sides cheer wildly for their teams, sometimes pouring tears of pleasure and sometimes tears of grief. We can’t deny that this derby has the capability to set two brothers against each other and transform them into foes in a single day. It is a derby in which torches fly through the air, marches and songs are sung together in the stadium, demonstrating how a person is bonded to two colors. These crazy fans sometimes lose control and turn into hooligans. In fact, they have in some occasions burned the flags of the rival club with their torches in order to infuriate the opposing team.
Sometimes, after a terrible result, they take all the chairs and throw them on the field; this is another proof that they turn the derby into hooliganism. Many matches were postponed because of these reasons or continued after a break. This excitement does not only belong to the fans but sometimes also to the players. In both clubs, football players sometimes lose their self-control and throw foreign materials back at the fans. As I previously said, this derby is much more than football…
The rivalry between these two Thessaloniki teams dates back to the interwar period when a rivalry began between upper-class local Greeks (ARIS supporters) and Greek refugees (PAOK supporters). These refugees mostly belonged to working-class immigrants mainly from Pontus and Constantinople. The hostility between these social groups was expressed in many ways and one of them was football. Maybe that’s why the tension between these two clubs has never calmed down.
On 12 June 1927 the first derby of Thessaloniki concluded with a 2-1 PAOK win, and the rivalry between the two teams rose. In 142 games played so far, PAOK won 54 games, and Aris won 38 games. 50 matches ended in draws. Furthermore, the most outstanding win was in 1975 when PAOK defeated ARIS 5-0 In Toumba Stadium (PAOK’s Stadium). The last match between these two clubs resulted in the 2-0 victory of the PAOK team in Toumba Stadium. Although PAOK is usually leading in the statistics, ARIS has always followed the PAOK club. After 34 years in championship statistics, PAOK was able to catch up with ARIS only in 2019.
The two teams will meet for the 143rd time on 28 November 2021. The game takes place at Toumba stadium, PAOK’s home. The Greek football federation has not allowed away fans in recent years due to the violent behavior of the two teams’ fans against one another for years. As a result, only PAOK fans will be allowed into the stadium. Currently, PAOK is in 3rd place with 19 points and ARIS is 8th with 11 points. ARIS, which was unable to win any of its previous eight matches at Toumba Stadium, hopes to end this series with the victory. PAOK side, on the other hand, wants to make up for its terrible results in recent weeks with the ARIS match and present this victory to its fans.
The game will begin at 7.30 PM (19.30).
May the best one win!