I have to admit to not watching that much football over the last couple of weeks or so. Normal life, work, family commitments etc. get in the way sometimes but I suppose that is true for many of you who are taking ten minutes out of your day and bothering yourself to read this.
I didn’t watch the league cup defeat to big club Citeh nor United’s great victory against Chelsea, although I did catch up with that one later on Match of the Day, well you have to don’t you. The last United game I watched in full was the derby defeat, that clinched the league title for sunderland…….. well that’s what their celebrations looked like anyway. I watched that one in a bar, in the middle of Murcia city, before going to Ciudad de Murcia’s last away game in Santomera. It was weird as my youngest lad and me watched the derby surrounded by punters, in the bar, who hardly looked up from their Sunday supplements at the unfolding drama on wearyside…… most of them wouldn’t probably know where sunderland was and would be ignorant to the fact that it was a big derby etc.
Santomera is right on the border with the Alicante province and the ground has a great backdrop of mountains and lemon groves; in fact their ground is called El Limonar (The Lemon Grove) and a lemon tree is very prominent on their badge. Citrus fruits are a more common produce in the neighbouring provinces of Alicante and Valencia much more so than here in Murcia, so I suppose it’s quite natural that this border town should produce lemons that go all over Europe. To be honest me and the youngin’ must have looked like we were sucking lemons in Santomera, after witnessing what had happened in the derby a short time earlier. In fact Murcian’s are famed throughout Spain for putting lemon on all their food and there is even a joke related to cunnilingus regarding this…. I’ll let you work that one out for yourself.
Anyway, Ciudad won, 0-1, and that lifted our mood a bit and more importantly put the club in sixth position, two points off a promotion spot. Ciudad have an Argentinean kid, called Leo Rueda that plays for them, their own Colo, who also happens to be the captain and centre half. He is a real captain courageous and for the last few games has played with a Shearer type headband bandage. Leo used to stand on the terraces with the City Boys, when they were in the Segunda etc. and I was delighted when he was named in the Murcian Prefernte League’s team of the month, his no nonsense style deserved it.
Over the first weekend of November this level of football takes a week off. November 1st is a national holiday called All Saints Day and Spanish families remember their deceased relatives, its good time to be a florist as cemeteries all over the country are bedecked in wreaths and wreaths of floral displays. So that weekend I took the opportunity to spend time with my own family as my parents were over for a visit, thus the curtailing of my football viewing. However, I’m not one to miss an opportunity and I also took this time to do some research for the book that I’m currently writing. We visited the coastal port town of Cartagena; it has to be the most historical place in Murcia, with people as diverse as Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Moors and Carthage having passed through. It’s even rumoured that Hannibal took his elephants through the city, on his epic journey that went across the Alps, on his way to take on the Romans, although that location was probably a bit further up the coast. In modern history most of the International Brigades that fought on the Republican side, against Franco, passed through the port also and the city was subjected to many bombing raids by Hitler’s and Mussolini’s bombers that supported Franco’s Fascist rebel forces. I visited the air raid shelters, built into the side of a mountain and now turned into a museum, which the people of the city used to hide in from the fascist bombs. People from the Cartagena often argue that it should be the capital of the region, as it has far more history and is much older than Murcia city itself, I can see the logic of their argument. Cartagena’s football club play in black and white stripes and their fans have a good relationship with the City Boys of Ciudad, probably due to their shared hatred of Real Murcia. http://www.futbolclubcartagena.com/ They are currently in second place in Segunda B (Group 4) and I have a visit there pencilled in, for later in the season, when they play Cadiz. In my opinion it’s a city that deserves a team at least in the second tier of Spanish football, I like it a lot. If you like history and all that have a look at this website (in English), you won’t be disappointed. www.cartagenapuertodeculturas.com/_KbtzeFMKsRaHhShRmbsVc2dR_83aS5gB
For the book I’ve also been researching the areas behind Cartagena, as there is a couple of football clubs that Ciudad will be playing based around there. Again a rich history can be found and in very similar way to Northumberland and Durham it is linked to mining. Although in this case they didn’t mine coal they used to mine lead and silver. The Roman’s were the first to mine the area but the mining industry came to prominence, like many places, during the industrial revolution. Industrialists came to the area from all over Spain and Europe and football stories were never far away during that era. Poor people from Andalusia streamed into the area, in a similar way that the Irish did to Tyneside and other industrialised areas in Northern England and they brought with them, again in a similar way, their music and culture. The miners were treated badly and the conditions in the mines were horrendous, whilst the rich industrialists lived in ornate mansions that still litter the area.
Lead and silver mining, like coal mining in the north east, has all but died out now, with many of the mines becoming derelict or turned into museums. People once again have also had to move on but small football clubs, like La Union and FC Algar, still survive….just.
PS: Just as I was putting the final touches to this blog the news broke that FC Cartagena will play Barça in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey. The first leg will be played on December 7 or 8 at the Cartagonova, Cartagena’s stadium. I’ll keep you posted….
Until next time……..