The accident that plunged Panathinaikos and Thira 13 into grief
Panathinaikos fans and especially its organized fans, all over the world every November have one more reason to celebrate, in addition to the existence of the club itself and their love for it.
November 19, 1966 is the day when the idea of some crazy people with the clover took shape to set up a fan association so that they can "organized" to watch the games of their favorite team but also to move en masse for the games in the countryside as one body. The word organized is in quotation marks because in 1966 its meaning was obviously a little different from what it is now. What remains the same is the identification with the group and the collectivization with the like-minded.
That November, however, has remained in the memories of Panathinaikos and in black colors. After the joy of founding the first fan association, the "Door 13"(Some reports speak of the first link in this form in Greece), came the untold pain of an accident that would plunge the clover world into grief. And it would not be the last time we would mourn the loss of fans who passed away ignominiously, on the way to a trip to watch their team. The tragedy of Tempi with the 6 dead fans of PAOK in October 1999 (on his return from a match with Panathinaikos) he was succeeded by that of the young friend of Olympiacos Othon Parsalis in November 1996 who was dragged by a car on the National Road when the coach returned with the fans of the red and whites from the match against Edessa .
The first organized away trip
If we understand exactly what era we are talking about we will realize that concepts such as "travel ban", "away tickets" and other (not so) beautifully related to the domestic fan reality today, then were unknown words. There were tensions, bitterness, conflicts. This did not prevent any fan, however, from starting from one end of Greece to travel to the other to be on the side of his favorite team.
Ο Panathinaikos had various links throughout Greece since 1952. However Gate 13 was the one that operated in different standards and holds high the green flag to this day.
The first offices of the association operated in the center of the city, at 68 Kolonou Street, in Metaxourgio.
The name of course "Gate 13" that came from the gate that the fanatical fans of the clover chose to watch the matches in the stadium of the Avenue. Those years when the friends of Panathinaikos gathered behind Gate 13 of the stadium on Alexandra Avenue on Panathinaikos Street. The years when there were no chairs and season tickets in the stadiums.
Eight days after the founding of Thira 13, on November 27, 1966, the first trip of the association for the match in Veria with the local team would take place. Which was to be the first recorded tragedy with fans involved in an excursion process to watch a match.
The joy of the journey that turned into a thunderstorm
The bus with registration number 105845 left Athens full of members of Gate 13 and others fans of Panathinaikos in the early hours of November 27th.
Shortly after 5 in the morning the bus stopped in Tempi for rest and food. Reports of the time also spoke of a prayer made by the friends of the clover. A prayer for victory in the match with Veria but also for the Panathinaikos players to be healthy.
Just an hour later and after the bus was outside Katerini, the fatal thing happened. According to press reports at the time, the bus driver did not have his headlights open while he was running at high speed.
A roller coaster was working on the side of the road. Without also having any light sign near it. The collision of the two vehicles was fierce. The images published by the newspapers of the time testify to the magnitude of the tragedy. The bus was thrown 50 miles away and overturned.
The roller fell into a ditch and its driver, Elias Tsafakis, got stuck in the roller and died a horrible death as it was mashed.
There were 45 passengers on the bus. The vast majority of them were asleep. As soon as they managed to recover from the collision, they immediately tried to get out of the battered bus. Two friends of Panathinaikos did not succeed.
The reaction of Panathinaikos to the tragedy, the solidarity of Pierikos and Giannis Latsis
The two fans of the Greens who lost their lives unjustly were 26-year-old florist Dimitris Sarantakis, one of the founders and general secretary of Thyra 13, and George Koskoros. The second was one of the most recognizable figures in Gate 13 as he watched all the games standing on the railing of the Avenue stadium. He was known in the ranks of the green fans as "Panathinaikakias" and followed the trefoil in every match at home or away.
The car accident caused a general alarm in the city of Katerini. Some of the 43 injured were taken to the city hospital while others to the one in Larissa. At the same time, the residents of the area opened their homes and the salons became first aid stations. Eight of the injured were in serious condition.
13 lightly injured were transported to hospitals in Athens at the expense of his team Pierikos which showed the immediate reflexes of solidarity in the tragedy that had struck the green family. Among the injured is the shipowner Giannis Latsis with his 13-year-old son Spyros. Latsis then helped the victims' families financially.
the first home match on the Avenue after the incident, bouquets were placed on the railings symbolically, as D. Sarantakis was a florist, while the fans stuck black ribbons on their flags, as a sign of mourning.
The fan associations of Panathinaikos Patission, Maroussi, Mavili Square, Byron, Agia Sofia Piraeus and the newly established Thira 13, thanked the people of Pierikos with banners and cheers, for the help they offered in the hours after the accident.
Its general secretary Panathinaikos, Xenophon Chatzisarantos delivered a shocking funeral speech at the last farewell of "Panathinaikakia" George Koskorou:
"The great Panathinaikos family is burying with pain and sorrow today a pure fan of the Panathinaikos Idea, which inspires and gives birth to true fans the supreme love, devotion and devotion to the ideals of our great club. Your tragic death, forget it dude, came fatally in the course of the fanatical fans of Panathinaikos to support their favorite team and shows the greatness of your wonderful and pure soul who loved Panathinaikos more than anything else in life.
Panathinaikos was your only joy, your only love, your only joy.
The Panathinaikos world, administration, members and fans, moved by your supreme sacrifice, assure you that your name will remain forever in our souls and your death will inspire all of us in the beautiful struggle for the eternal glory of our great Panathinaikos ".