PAOK Thessaloniki is the club that represents and epitomizes the lost territories of the former Byzantine Empire. It was founded by Greeks from Konstantinople who had been forced to flee and seek refuge in Greece. Indicative therefore of the heritage of PAOK, is the club's emblem, the Two Headed Eagle, which represents the glory of the Holy City and the Byzantine Empire. The club was created by people who were not merely interested in sporting activities. Rather it arose from their need to bond with other people, who in Konstantinople had left behind families, their property, memories and roots; and who in Thessaloniki, found themselves having to re-establish their lives from the very beginning.
It is for this reason, that PAOK is more than simply a sporting club. PAOK's history is the history of Greece. The Greece that represents the fallen territories and peoples of Konstantinople, Pontus, Asia Minor and all other Greek plains that have been usurped by foreigners.
PAOK is an historic continuation of the Konstantinopolitan Athletic and Cultural body - Ermis, which was created by the Greek inhabitants of Pera, in the heart of Konstantinople in 1875. The desire of these people to express and support their Hellenism within Turkey, drove them to the creation of this body. In the aftermath of the 1922 Asia Minor catastrophe, the Greeks of Konstantinople, Ionia and the rest of Turkey renamed the club from Ermis to Pera Club in line with the new constitution imposed by kemal ataturk. Despite the constant attacks the Greek population was subjected to which ultimately forced them to flee the lands of their forefathers, Pera Club continued to succeed while Hellenes remained in the city.
In 1922, the first refugees from Konstantinople, began arriving in Thessaloniki. They contemplated the formation of a body that would represent them in the athletic domain. Konstantinos Bolos conceived the idea of creating the Athletic Enosi of Konstantinople (AEK). Two thoughts predominated; the first involved inducting all Konstantinopolitan athletes into the domestic athletic bodies, so as to avoid rivalry amongst the refugees and the Thessalonikians. The other train of thought was to create an independent uncomprimised athletic organization comprised exclusively of Konstantinopolitans.
Fanourios Vyzantios, a vocal supporter for the latter, extrapolated the thoughts of many when he posed the following question to the people of Thessaloniki: "Gentlemen, do you want a club which carries the name of Konstantinople, which encapsulates the name and history of our country and fallen brethren; or would you rather abolish the name so it is forgotten by future generations?"
The year is 1925... Fate determined that PAOK was born out of a dispute. Within AEK two factions developed. The faction led by Vyzantios and Kalpatsoglou departed, taking with them the majority of players. The faction led by Petropoulos remained insisting that the Konstantinopolitan Club should take an all-inclusive approach towards all Thessalonikians. As a result of this dispute the PANTHESSALONIKAN ATHLETIC ORGANIZATION OF KONSTANTINOPOLITANS (PAOK) was begotten. The club was formed in April 1925 and its constitution was sanctioned and approved by the City Court of Thessaloniki on the 28th of April 1926 with article number 822.
PAOK's historic, inaugural match, took place on Sunday, 26th of July 1925 against Iraklis. The result was 2-1 in favour of PAOK.
The first section to be founded was football and in 1928, other sections (such as basketball, volleyball, athletics, swimming, water polo, boxing and cycling) were introduced. The football team was placed in the second division of the local championship in Thessaloniki. The following year, it was promoted to the first division after defeating the reigning champions of Thessaloniki, Iraklis 1-0. Initially, PAOK resided in the club of Konstantinopolitans that was to be found at the grounds surrounding the White Tower, which had earlier housed the majestic statue of Emperor Konstantine. The infighting between PAOK and AEK held firm until March 20th 1929. At this point in time, the president of the political body of United Konstantinopolitans, Karamaounas, a doctor by profession, with the help of Kontonasopoulos, a lawyer, and the General Secretary of the aforementioned body, succeeded in calming the animosity between both sides. Both clubs were successfully absorbed under the PAOK banner in April 1929. The name PAOK was chosen as there was already an established club in Athens with the name AEK.
The founding members of PAOK were the following:
A. Angelopoulos, A. Athanasiadis, K. Anagnostidis, M. Ventourelis,
F. Vyzantios, A. Dimitriadis, D. Dimitriadis, N. Zoumboulidis,
M. Theodosiadis, T. Ioakimopoulos, P. Kalpatsoglou, T. Katsambekis,
D. Koemtsopoulos, K. Koemtsopoulos, P. Kontopoulos, K. Kritikos,
M. Konstantinidis, P. Maletskas, I. Nikolaidis, L. Papadopoulos,
F Samantzopoulos, T. Tsoulkas, M. Tsoulkas, S Triandafillidis,
The first committee of PAOK formed in 1926-27 was comprised of the following people:
President: T. Triandafillidis
Vice President: P. Kalpatsoglou
Deputy Vice President: A. Athanasiadis
General Secretary: K. Kritikos
Assistant Secretary: M. Tsoulkas
Treasurer: T. Ioakimopoulos
Sponsor: A. Angelopoulos
Advisors: M. Konstantinidis, S. Triandafillidis.
The first emblem chosen by the club was a four-leaf clover which represented hope in all its glory. The leaves were of a green colour and on the four leaves, the initials, P.A.O.K., were depicted. Konstantino Koemtsopoulos devised this idea. The historic Two Headed Eagle of the Byzantine Empire, symbol of glory and sovereignty was established as the emblem of PAOK after April 1929. The Two Headed Eagle had a crown and was grasping a sword. The sword represented the readiness to encounter any enemies that may arise and the crown symbolized the city of the King, Konstantinople. Initially, the Eagle contained only one head, peering towards the east, where the permanent enemies of the Byzantine Empire resided. However, after the invasion of Konstantinople by the Franks, another head was added to symbolize that enemies existed on all sides, east and west. The two-headed eagle of PAOK in contrast to that of AEK, which is the eagle of the Church, always has its wings closed. This symbolizes mourning for the lost territories and they will finally reopen, when we reclaim our rightful lands. The colours chosen were black and white; black symbolizing the mourning for the lost territories and lives and the white representing hope for the future.
PAOK's first ground was Stadium Syntrivani which was located where the University of Thessaloniki now resides. This ground was built by the sweat and toil of PAOK supporters from all walks of life who volunteered their efforts in any shape or form they could. The inauguration of the stadium was held on the 12th of December 1930. On this day, in the presence of official dignitaries and thousands of common PAOK supporters, a friendly match was played against aris. PAOK won the match 2-1 and subsequently, aris appealed against the legitimacy of the stadium. An official was dispatched from Athens (A. Mermingas) to verify the specifications of the ground and found everything was according to standard. PAOK resided at this ground for twenty-nine years at which time, the government decided to hand the land over to the University of Thessaloniki. It's fair to say, that PAOK, due to its increasing supporter base, had outgrown the capacity of this stadium. However, the news of this decision was a bombshell to supporters who for the second time in a short period were being displaced from their home.
The quest for a new ground began in earnest. After a concerted effort, land was found in Ano Toumba, a refugee suburb in Thessaloniki strongly identified with the history of PAOK and named after a suburb in Konstaninople, "La Toumba". This is where the stadium, derives its name Toumba (the tomb). This land belonged to the Department of National Defense. The purchasing of the land, took place on February 7th, 1958. Signing on behalf of PAOK, were S. Georgiadis and B. Sidiropoulos. The land was purchased for one and a half million drachma and the club was given a period of twenty months in which to pay off this debt. In order to raise funds for the building of the stadium, the club issued a nationwide raffle. PAOK fans throughout Greece offered their support wholeheartedly. Without hesitation, we can affirm that the PAOK fans themselves built this ground.
Initially the ground capacity was 20,000 and the first match in Toumba took place on Sunday, September 6th, 1959. The match was played between PAOK and AEK, PAOK winning with a goal scored by Kiortsis. For the record, the first PAOK lineup in Toumba was the following:
Progios, Hasoitis, Kermanidis, Petridis, Havanidis, Giannelos, Leandros, Tsintoglou, Kouirokidis, Kiourtsis, Nikolaidis.
The first official game took place on October 25th, 1959, between PAOK and Meg' Alexandro Katerinis, with PAOK the victor 3-2. The first goal scorer for an official match in Toumba was Karafoulidis of PAOK.
Throughout its history, PAOK has won the following titles:
Champions of the Thessaloniki domestic league: 1937, 1948, 1950, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957.
Greek League Champions: 1976, 1985
Greek Cup Champions: 1972, 1974, 2001, 2003
PAOK Thessaloniki F.C., continues to be a force in the Greek domestic league and European competitions to this day.