Every PAOK fan dad has had tough years: years of disdain and poverty, with players' petitions and fundraisers, with “thefts” of players and championships.
Every PAOK fan dad has heard the sarcasm of the rest “big” teams, has heard people calling his favorite team “little PAOK” millions of times.
Every PAOK fan dad has experienced introversion and misery crisis, has seen players being worshiped and brought down, maybe he has even broken some players' cars out of frustration.
Therefore, every PAOK fan dad has formed his love for PAOK with disappointments and sadness, with justified anger or even not justified anger sometimes, with big dreams and even bigger denials. And he made his love out of steel, that doesn't rust, doesn't bend, doesn't break under any circumstance.
Every PAOK fan dad may have a lot of trouble in his life, but one thing never troubled him: how he would baptize his kid in the colors of PAOK. While others need ten trophies, one visit at Toumba would usually be enough for him to have PAOK fan son. Who would later become a PAOK fan dad and have his own PAOK fans kids, that would maintain unreasonable dynamics, a football paradox for Greece, where what counts is titles and victories. PAOK reversed that too: they got more fans as the last title was flying away.
Every PAOK fan dad, who grew up at Toumpa and traveled kilometers to see PAOK playing on the other side of Greece or on the other side of the world, with cold and snow, not expecting the win but for the trip and the songs, for his big love, laughs at anybody that still underestimates his team. At those who write that they don't consider derbies the matches against PAOK, as if the change of PAOK's size needs their approval. At those who are eight points behind on the table of the pitches (six on the official table) and still say they play the best football in Greece. At those who are trying really hard to stop PAOK and when they fail they find a thousand excuses to refuse to applaud its undefeated path.
That PAOK fan dad didn't sleep on Sunday night: because of the excitement of the match against AEK, because of the pride for the team that played for one hour with ten players and remained undefeated, even because of the frustration as they could take victory.
The same PAOK fan dad will probably not sleep this week too. A route of decades, with obstacles and traps, broken windows, unpatriotic chants and fixed matches, a route with tears of joy and sadness, often with tears of tear gas, with “slaughters” and more “slaughters”, a route with flying toilet papers and mockery, ends as causality to Sunday's match.
At the same time a new route begins.
PAOK, that is gradually being built from the day Ivan Savvidis took over (the only person in sports administration who pays his debts, instead of choosing relegation and pays for his mistakes, waiting to hug his players out of the bus or at the airport but never in the pitch, because unlike others he respects justice) includes the above: it does not forget the sadness, the cancellations, the disdain and the injustice. It embeds them, it turns them to fuel and at the same time it overtakes them. And is ready, readier than ever to seal the change of its history, playing an opponent that represents what it has been fighting against more than anybody else.
Fate brought heroic PAOK of the past and better PAOK of the future “meeting” in the same team. With victory (or tie) the future is already here. With defeat there will be a small overtime. But it's coming anyway, nobody can stop it.
Every PAOK fan dad knows that, sees it, feels it through his veins. It is time to live what he has dreamed of.
Now. Not tomorrow.
And now that Andre, Fernando, Diego, both Leos, Dimitris are creating new generations of fans, from Thessaloniki to Irakleio, now that it is easy to make new PAOK fans, but that there is a danger to harm the values and principles of the team, with which every PAOK dad fan grew up, in front of the charm of the upcoming titles, now it is necessary to show their kids the well paid players that jump in front of the crowd and curse.
Every PAOK fan dad should show them to their kids and say: My child, you can become whatever you want in your life, even support another team, although you will lose.
But, please, don't become like them.
Don't become like them.