Fallen Legends – The story of Altay SK, Izmir’s black-and-white pride

Welcome to the first English version of Fallen Legends, a kind of translation of our Italian column Nobili decadute. We chose this language in honour of the international appeal of the Buyuk Altay.

Altay Sk are based in Izmir, the third most important city in Turkey. We will virtually visit this special district, famous in the world for the derbies between these six football teams: Altinordu, Altay, Bucaspor, Goztepe, Izmirspor and Karsiyaka.

IZMIR’S RULERS – Altay Spor Kulubu were founded on the 16th of January 1914 to unite Turkish people under sporting activities and football. Due also to the massive participation of immigrants and foreign people, in the 1910s Altay SK dominated in the province.

In the 1923 the football section entered for the first time the Izmir Local League. The club won the 1923–24, 1924–25, 1927–28, 1928–29, 1930–31, 1933–34, 1936–37 editions. In the 1937-38 Altay won the tournament as “Üçokspor“, an alliance between Altay, Altınordu and Bucaspor.

After the alliance failed, the black and whites returned to win provincial leagues again in: 1940–41, 1945–46, 1947–48, 1950–51 and 1953–54.

REVOLUTION – The 1958-1959 season was the turning point for all the football in Turkey: the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) decided to merge all the best local football leagues into a new tournament called Milli Lig, nowadays known as Super Lig.

The Izmir black-and-white club took part in the new top league playing in the Beyaz Group (White Group in turkish language) with İstanbulspor AS, Ttnet Beykozspor, Hacettepe, Ankaragücü, İzmirspor, Besiktas and Fenerbahçe. Surprisingly Altay finished third right after Fenerbahçe and Besiktas.

The next year the group were merged into a single block consisting of 20 teams, and the team finished 17th. Then everything got even worse: Altay ended the season in the 18th position and avoided relegation to the second division only thanks to the play-out battle.

ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY – By the way in the 1961-1962 season the club finished 4th: this means that Altay qualified for the first time to the 1962–63 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup edition. Meanwhile the Milli Lig was splitted again into two groups and the team took part in the Kirmizi Group (Red Group in turkish language) arriving 6th. The European adventure of the Izmir-based club ended in Italy: red-and-yellow giants AS Roma eliminated Altay from Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. The Italian club defeated the turkish side twice: 3-2, 10-1.

After the Roma humiliation, 4 normal years in the top league passed slowly. Then in the 1966-1967 season the team finally won his first important trophy: the Turkish Cup.


The team defeated Galatasaray and Bandirmaspor before drawing local rivals Goztepe in the Izmir Alsancak Stadium.

The match terminated 2-2 (Aydın Yelken 17, Aytekin Erhanoğlu 57; Fevzi Zemzem 64, Kiraz 66) but Altay won the turkish cup due to the coin toss. In the next year, the club lost the Turkish Super Cup final and were eliminated from UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup by belgian top division club Standard Liège. In the 1969-70 and 1976-77 Altay finished in the third position in the Turkish Super Lig, confirming all the great things achieved in the years before.

After 10 good years in the top league, in the 1979-1980 season the team won his second important trophy: another Turkish Cup, this time conquered without a coin toss. Altay defeated Trabzonspor and Lüleburgazspor before the double final against Galatasaray.

In the first final in Izmir the Istanbul lions lost 1-0. At their home round Galatasaray scored one goal, but Altay won the cup thanks to the goal scored by a unstoppable Mustafa Denizli (yes, exactly; a living legend of Turkish football. After a successful footballer career he also won trophies as a manager. In the photo below with another football legend…)

denizli ferguson

DOWNHILL – In the following year, the club lost again the Turkish Super Cup final and were eliminated from European competitions. It was the beginning of a decline for the Izmir club.

After 2 low seasons in the 1982-83 the team finished 18th and were relegated for the first time to the Turkish second division.

The next year the Turkish team started in the second division with the declared aim of promotion. After an outstanding beginning of the league, the team ended the season at the 1st place (at the 1st place) ahead Mersin Idman Yurdu: Altay were back in the top flight. By the way, the next 6 seasons have been an underachievement.

Things got even worse in the 1989-90, with another disappointing relegation. In the second division Altay lead from the first to the last day, finishing ahead of city rivals Goztepe and returning immediately in the Super Lig.

EUROPEAN ILLUSIONS – After many years of absence, in 1998 the club finally qualified to the Uefa Intertoto Cup thanks to the 7th position in the league.

In the next year the Turkish side defeated Shamrock Rovers and Diósgyőri VTK but didn’t manage to win against French outfit Bastia. The Corsica-based team ended Altay‘s short European adventure.

By the way, the following season, things got much worse. After a long battle with some other turkish clubs to stay in the top flight, the team were relegated to the 1.Lig.

In the 2000-2001 a young Necati Ates failed to bring the team to the top division. So the following year the Turkish team started again in the second division. And after an outstanding beginning of the league, the team ended the season at the 1st place ahead ElazigsporAltay were again bounced back to the top flight. But the return to the Super Lig was as short as bad. And again, the 1.Lig was waiting for the Turkish black-and-white Izmir club.

NOW AND THEN… – After many normal years in the second league, in the 2010-2011 season the team got relegated for the first time in the Turkish 2.Lig where Altay are currently playing.

Every Turkish football follower should hope that Altay one day will come back to the Super Lig. Historic team of Izmir and incomparable heritage of Turkish football, the black-and-whites currently hold the record for most Izmir Local League titles with 15 tournaments. Altay are also the most successful İzmir-based club with two Turkish Cup, many Provincial Tournaments and three third places in the Turkish Super Lig.

The 3.Lig could be the hell of Altay SK, a club who fought even in Europe. Now, forgotten by many even in Turkey.

3 Comments on “Fallen Legends – The story of Altay SK, Izmir’s black-and-white pride

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