Had Joe Cocker been an Egyptian crooner from days gone by the lump in his throat would have produced the wonderful isle of Zamalek when singing ‘Cry Me A River’.
Set in the river Nile, Zamalek conjures up visions of the old banlieueus of Paris and the exquisite grandeur of Prague. Peculiarly enough, Zamalek, more specifically the Gezirah district, is the spiritual home of centennial Al Ahly.
The origins of Al Ahly coincide with the nation’s uncomfortable feeling of pressure of British occupation of Egypt, the sentiments bundled by Egypt’s patriotic leader, Mustafa Kamel. A charismatic figure, who became instrumental in the birth of the club, initially a semi-political sporting stronghold for the revolutionary establishment much to the chagrin of the occupying body.
Irrespective of the British efforts to nullify Al Ahly, the club became the new spirit for Egyptians, the people and the nation, its motto echoing the strong belief to try to achieve the imposible. Allegedly, the club has become a national icon as a club from the people for the people. The recent ticket touting scam preceding the Ahly vs Barcelona match coinciding with the centennial festivities has put a whole new perspective to the so-called theme of ‘people credo’.
Their original ground is called Mukhtar El Tetsh and only the main stand remains. The Mukhtar Al-Tetsh premises today serve as an omni-sports complex. The stadium allegedly held 25,000 people during the days Al Ahly played there. The reason given not to allow pictures being taken was officially stated as ‘the structure will be knocked down’. Anyone who visits http://www.ahlyegypt.com/english/ and hits the ‘100 year button’ will understand the logic of it all…