If you’ve been following this blog you know I’m not a lover of international football per se, but when the chance comes around to watch the Spanish international team, at any level, I usually take up the opportunity to watch the game being played at its height.
During the recent international break both the Spanish senior squad and U21 squad were playing not that far from me, the full team at Albacete (about an hour ten minutes away) and the U21s at Murcia (40 minutes) and Cartagena (about 1 hour). However, I didn’t get to see any of those games, the U21s due to work commitments and the seniors due to the fact that they were playing in the 17,000 capacity Carlos Belmonte stadium, the home of Albacete Balon Pie. Tickets, as you can imagine, were like hen’s teeth and added to that there was no online sales, which would have meant a 200 mile round trip just to buy the tickets, so I gave it a miss.
As some of you may know I am currently writing a book about following CAP Ciudad de Murcia around the region of Murcia this season. The book is a mix of football, politics, music, history and culture, very true faith-esque and takes the occasional detour, looking at clubs that have links with Ciudad. One such club is Cadiz FC, who currently plays in the Segunda B (Group 4) and they were playing Albacete the night after the Spain game, the fixture had been moved from the previous weekend to protect the pitch for the international game. The fixture was of interest due to the fact that Albacete supposedly has a far right ultra-group attached to them, called the White Brigade, and Cadiz has their antifa group called the Yellow Brigade who are good mates with The City Boys of Ciudad. Also Albacete, before boundary changes in the 1980’s, used to be part of the Murcia region and some of the villages around the city once housed the headquarters of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. I also wanted to visit the home village of Spanish World cup hero Andres Inesta. Inesta is from the very rural village of Fuentealbilla, think of the most remote place in Northumberland and you’ll have an idea of what it’s like. The village has been turned into a football Lourdes with statues of Inesta and the World Cup with various shops selling Inesta souvenirs. Something I found of interest in the village was a bridge that is dedicated to the International Brigades, who came to Spain in the 30’s to fight fascism. I tried to imagine what it must have been like for the lads from the far flung corners of the UK and Ireland (and other countries) back then in a village that even by today’s standards is in the back end of beyond. It must have been a strange experience before going off to fight the feared and brutal Moroccans of the Spanish Foreign Legion, around the outskirts of Madrid. After an hour or so around the village I drove into Albacete, in search of modern day Nazis, and I’m glad to report that I didn’t find any. I went into a couple of bars frequent by Ultra types and saw no evidence of far right regalia or references to the White Brigade, I also didn’t see anything during the game neither, I have to admit being kind of happy about that. As I have reported in earlier blogs I like the story of Inesta saving his local club and links to Albacete Ultras being far right sour that a bit. As for the game itself it finished 2-1 to Albacete, they scored in the last minute to put themselves back on top of the table. I watched the game from the away end with ten Cadiz fans, yes you read right ten. Spanish fans don’t travel that well, but I think Cadiz’s fans can be excused for not making a 1300KM round trip on a Wednesday night, for a game in the third tier of Spanish football. Cadiz fans have a reputation for being the friendliest fans in Spain and have songs like “Alcohol, alcohol, alcohol! We came here to get drunk and the result doesn’t matter!” which reminds me of the Newcastle song “Drink-Drink wherever you can be”.
Sid Lowe, from The Guardian wrote a great piece on them a few years ago and normally they are welcomed wherever they go, although they have had some run ins with far right ultras. http://www.theguardian.com/football/2006/mar/27/europeanfootball.sport1
I have to say that the Cadiz lads that I met were very friendly and knew all the craic about Ciudad de Murcia regarding the fan ownership thing etc. I felt a bit sorry for them as we all know the feeling of losing in the last minute. I’ll be keeping an eye on Cadiz and will try to go to watch them again when they play in Murcia against Cartagena and La Hoya de Lorca.
Talking about La Hoya you may have seen them in the football news recently? They have to be candidates for having the ugliest ever strip in football. The club is based about 40 minutes from me, next to Lorca, and has drawn attention to itself because of its second strip with its bright green shirt with broccoli printed on the front and back of it complete with matching shorts. The makers of the strip said in a local newspaper interview that the strip for them is like winning the lottery and that they have received orders from the UK, USA, China and Argentina. The Region of Murcia is known as the market garden of Spain and broccoli is one of its best exported products, so when you are in the fruit and vegetable rows of Tesco, at Kingston Park, you know that your veg, especially your broccoli comes from here. La Hoya is actually doing quite well in the league too as it happens, they sit third, and stand a chance of playing in La Segunda next season. If you fancy the strip yourself you can buy it, by following the link, for €35 and show your support for the “Clockwork Broccoli” as they like to call themselves. http://elbrocolimecanico.com/index.php?
CAP Ciudad de Murcia continue to good things off the pitch and on Sunday hosted a day , in conjunction with FARE, against homophobia and racism to coincide with their game against Algar, the game ended 1-1 and Ciudad sit in 7th position. In the same league Caravaca’s 100% record came to an end when they were beaten 3-1 away, at second placed Alhama.
Well that’s about it for this time, this week Spanish TV will be saturated with coverage of Barca and Real in the lead up to this weekend’s El Classico. The whole country seems to be obsessed with this fixture but to be honest I have no interest in it anymore, I’d rather watch broccoli grow…..adios!