Posts Tagged ‘Spanish football’

Orihuela v Castellon, Sunday 17th November 2019, 5pm

March 7, 2020

After a few days in Elche, Jen and I headed back to the coast and stayed at a place called La Mata. It appeared to be shut for the winter, with just a couple of bars and cafes catering for ex-pats in fleeces in need of that pre-lunch beer.

We managed to do a bit of walking as one of those long-distance coastal trails took in the beach as part of its route, giving us easy sign-posted options in two directions, with a further option of a trail around a nearby salt lake.

In the absence of eating out options we tended to snack in our apartment. If we’d have been there for a while longer I’d probably have had a crack at the whole pigs that we saw in the freezer section of a nearby hypermarket. We’d shared half of a two-week old suckling pig in Malaysia in the past and had portions of a slightly older one when we’d been in Spain earlier in the year. These ones were just that touch too big though for the time we had available.

The most suitable football option was a third tier Segunda B game an hour or so down the road at Orihuela.  I cut it fine getting there and with no parking in view at the Estadio Municipal Los Arcos we had to put the car in one of those underground car parks some distance away.

We emerged into the daylight and I strode off sharply in what I thought was the direction of the ground. Despite nothing looking familiar I dismissed Jen’s suggestion that I use the map on my phone as unnecessary until I’d taken us a good five minutes in the wrong direction. Eventually I got my phone out as if it had been my own idea, sheepishly did the required U-turn and we arrived at the ground bang on kick-off.  I’d have still been wandering around the town centre were I not a married man.

It was fifteen euros for general admission for the visit of Castellon. If I remember rightly Castellon is the place where I stayed with my daughter when the Boro played Villareal in one of the UEFA Cup seasons. I’ve also got a faint recollection that Mendieta was either from there or turned out for them early in his career. You could always Google it or him if you wanted to be sure.

The main stand was taped off and so everyone was watching from the three rows of terracing that ran around the other three sides of the ground. Every now and then someone would appear on a balcony of the apartments that overlooked the stadium and cast a disinterested eye at the action as they retrieved their washing or drew on a fag. Along that same side was the main home singing section of thirty-odd Orihuela fans.

At the opposite end to us were a few Castellon supporters in front of an impressive mountain backdrop. With the visitors sitting one place off the top of the table and Orihuela rock bottom, I’m sure they were expecting to go home three points better off.

Orihuela, in yellow and blue, took the lead after a quarter of an hour when their right-sided striker was first to a ball over the top and finished well. I missed Castellon’s equaliser ten minutes or so later as I was searching online for the height of Orihuela’s ‘big unit’ Antonio. Turns out that he’s six foot five, but he looked to be taller.

It was still level at the break as I wandered around to the kiosk near the front gate and got myself a pie filled with an unidentified, but tasty enough, reddy-brown substance.

On the hour Orihuela had a chance from a corner that Castellon just couldn’t clear. The ball bobbed up and down on and around the crossbar before the home side eventually turned it in for a two-one lead.

The goal injected some life into the game and a slide tackle by an Orihuela player right in front of the Castellon bench sparked a fracas that, I think, led to a red card for the slidee. One of the away coaches should have picked up one as well, maybe he did, it was hard to tell.

It looked like the ten men of Orihuela would hold on but with the scoreboard showing just the four minutes remaining someone hit a sweet half-volley from the edge of the box that nicked the inside of the post on the way in and levelled the scores. It was two points dropped though for the visitors and a well-deserved draw for relegation-threatened Orihuela. In an added bonus we found our way back to the car without having to resort to the phone map.

CD Tortosa v CF Camarles, Sunday 31st May 2015, 5pm

July 22, 2015

1 - cd tortosa

After the play-off game in Tarragona it was back to Tortosa with the opportunity to see a further match that afternoon. One game a day is generally sufficient for Jen and so I went to this one by myself.

We were staying at the Parador that overlooks the town and it took less than half an hour to wander down the hill and over the river to the Estadi Municipal Josep Otero.

It's not often we stay in a castle.

It’s not often we stay in a castle.

There wasn’t much going on in Tortosa on a Sunday teatime. I doubt there’s much goes on anywhere in Spain on a Sunday teatime and so it makes perfect sense to fill the void with a game of football.

The crowds gather.

The crowds gather.

The previous day’s fifth tier game at Lleida had been free admission so I was a little surprised that for a game in the sixth tier Catalana Segonda I was directed to the hole in the wall that served as a ticket office. I was further surprised to be charged ten euros, the same price as at the third tier play-off game at Tarragona earlier that day. I suppose they know fine well that there isn’t much else for people to do once they’ve finished their lunch.

Almost like a real ticket.

And a discount on my tea.

I’ve no idea who Josep Otero was (or is) but the stadium named after him had a seven row covered stand along one side and open terracing along the other. There were offices behind one goal and five a side pitches behind the other.

The view from (and along) the main stand.

The view from (and along) the main stand.

Most people sat in the main stand and as tends to be the way in Spain almost all of them knew everyone else and spent the first few minutes after their arrival greeting each other. I wondered how many games I’d have to go to before I’d get kissed on both cheeks by half the crowd. Not many I suspect.

The fans on the opposite side of the pitch appeared to be Camarles fans. You don’t have to travel very far in the Catalana Segonda league and assuming that they were actually from Camarles then they will have had a twenty minute drive along the C-42.

Camarles fans.

Camarles fans.

Tortosa were dressed up as Stoke whilst the visitors were sporting something similar to a Barcelona kit. The standard was pretty good when you consider that there are over a thousand clubs playing at a higher level in the Spanish pyramid system. Both sides managed to keep the ball well on the artificial pitch.

Stoke v Barca.

Stoke v Barca.

One thing that could have been improved upon was the number of goals. Not the number of goals scored, but the amount of goalposts situated around the pitch. We had a pair intended for smaller cross-field games that weren’t too bad but the additional set behind each goal made it look like some sort of experimental trial into whether the excitement level could be raised by allowing teams to score into more than one goal.

Part of what could have been described as a six goal thriller.

Part of what could have been described as a six goal thriller.

As far as the action went, there weren’t many chances. The visitors broke the deadlock early on when one of their strikers spun his defender, picked the correct set of posts and fired Camarles into the lead.

View from behind a goal.

View from behind a goal.

That one strike was sufficient to clinch the win in a meaningless end of season fixture. The celebrations at the end suggested that victory meant far more to the visiting fans than I’d have expected in the circumstances. There’s probably a bit of rivalry going on that I’m not aware of.

With the game over I retraced my steps back through the town and up the hill to the Parador.

 

 

Gimnastic de Tarragona v Huesca, Sunday 31st May 2015, Noon.

July 13, 2015

1 - nastic huesca

Another day, another game. This time in Tarragona, about an hour’s drive from Tortosa. Or rather an hour’s drive to where the satnav reckoned the stadium was and then another hour’s drive around town trying to find the actual location.

The Nou Estadi was actually built in 1972, so not very new at all really. I wonder when it will just be known as the Estadi? And you’d think that after forty-odd years someone might have got around to erecting a sign or two pointing out where it is.

We eventually spotted the ground five minutes before the noon kick-off but by then all the nearby parking had been taken and we ended up having to walk from about a mile away.

Estadi not so Nou.

The not so Nou Estadi

We were able to buy ten euro tickets for the uncovered stand along the side and by the time we had undergone the searches and taken our seats the game was already half an hour old.

It's 1.40 to the pound these days.

It’s 1.40 to the pound these days, so that’s about seven quid.

There was a decent crowd with the other three sides of the sixteen thousand capacity stadium apparently full. We had the Huesca fans at the opposite end of our section and a fair bit of space around us. For those who didn’t fancy coughing up their ten euros for a ticket the view from the road above the stadium afforded a decent view, certainly better than that of the away fans at St James’ Park.

View from the right of the Preferente Superior

View from the left end of the Preferent Superior

Whilst the previous day’s game at Lleida had been a fairly meaningless end-of-season fixture, this one had a lot more riding on the result. Gymnastic and Huesca had each finished top of their respective Segunda B divisions and were playing each other for a place in the second tier. This was the second leg, with the first game at Huesca having finished 0-0.

It’s a strange system. The four regional winners meet in two semi-finals, of which the two winners are promoted and go on to play each other for the overall divisional championship. The two losers drop into a further play-off that also involves the second, third and fourth placed teams in the leagues.

Looking the other way from our seats.

Looking the other way from our seats.

Nastic were in Man Utd kits, whilst Huesca could have passed for Jeonbuk Motors in their green and black strips. The games had been goalless when we arrived and it remained that way as we reached half-time.

The home side took the lead soon after the restart with a long-range daisy cutter from Lago that struck both posts before rolling over the line.

The goal understandably upped the tension and it boiled over when a Huesca player declined to give the ball back from a throw in after the Nastic keeper had put the ball out for a Huesca injury. The header from Rocha that put Nastic two up moments later raised tempers even further amongst the visiting players and they had Manolin sent off for what I believe is termed non-specific skullduggery.

Man Utd v Jeonbuk Motors.

Man Utd v Jeonbuk Motors.

At that point you’d have thought it was all over and Huesca might have turned their thoughts and energy to the next bout of play-offs, but they kept pushing forwards despite being two goals and a man down. I couldn’t help but contrast their efforts with those of the Boro at Wembley six days earlier where I’d thought that we seemed to accept our defeat far too early in proceedings.

At eighty minutes it really was all over when substitute Jiminez broke free and chipped the keeper from twenty yards to make it three-nil. The players celebrated as if they’d just been promoted, which I suppose they had. Huesca kept going to the end though and notched a consolation with a couple of minutes to go.

Final Score.

Final Score.

The win for Gimnastic secured the main prize of a place in the second tier and a two-legged tie with Real Oviedo to determine the overall Segunda B Championship.

 

Lleida Esportiu B v Amposta, Saturday 30th May 2015, Noon.

July 11, 2015

1-lleida B

Whilst the Boro’s play-off defeat had brought the domestic season to an end in England  there was still plenty of football going on elsewhere and a three day break in Spain on the way back to South Africa gave me the opportunity to take in some games.

Jen and I were staying in Tortosa, a small town about seventy-odd miles from Barcelona. There wasn’t any information in the papers on the fixtures in the fifth tier Primera Catalana leagues but I was able to glean enough from the internet to find a game in nearby Lleida. Nearby that is, if a two hour drive counts as nearby.

We drove over and occasionally through a variety of scenic hills, passing Riba Roja on the way. I recognised the area as I’d stayed there with my son around ten years ago on a fishing holiday. As usual he caught more than me but he generously allowed me to share the glory in the photo with the catfish.

I think that's a Ricky Hatton hat.

His hair is better these days.

Lleida is a lot bigger and busier than Tortosa but we made it through the Saturday morning traffic and reached the satnav destination of Ave Dr Fleming without too much trouble. Lleida’s main stadium, the Camp d‘Esportes was in sight and we soon found the practice pitch nearby where the B team matches take place.

There wasn’t anyone taking money so we just sat on one of the two small stands down the side of the pitch. It wasn’t surprising that it was free entry as there was an unimpeded view from all four sides. Most people had chosen to sit on the benches where we were but there were maybe twenty or so fans watching from the elevated area behind the goal to our left and a handful more who had parked opposite us and were watching from a roadside position.

Fans behind the goal.

Fans behind the goal.

There was a fella who had a stack of team sheets and he very kindly gave us one. It turned out that he was the media bloke from the club and we chatted a little about Lleida’s season. He asked us why we were there and seemed impressed that we had no reason other than an enjoyment of watching football. I kept quiet about the two hour drive from Tortosa as I felt that might just tip us into the weirdo category.

Teamsheet

Teamsheet

Lleida were in Italy strips with visitors Amposta in black and white. The fixture was about as meaningless as they come with it being the final game of the season and with neither side in contention for either promotion or relegation.

The view from the benches.

The view from the benches.

Both teams played some decent football in the first half, keeping possession well, but Lleida had the edge. Ruiz opened the scoring after ten minutes when he headed home from about six inches out. Another header, this time from Noel doubled their lead before Trota put the hosts three up just before the break.

As there didn’t seem to be any facilities at the ground we nipped around the corner to a bar for some half-time refreshment.

We rarely do this in South Africa.

We rarely do this in South Africa.

I watched the second half from behind the goal. It was a decent vantage point but the game suffered from the frequent substitutions. At this level teams can bring on up to five replacements and both sides took full advantage of the rules to give as many players as they could a run out. Lleida even changed their keeper.

View from behind the goal.

View from behind the goal.

Becerra scored a late consolation for the visitors, but it was of little consequence. The Amposta players didn’t even bother grabbing the ball and sprinting back for the restart.

Dugouts to the left.

Dugouts to the left.

The victory left Lleida in a mid table finish with Amposta a point ahead of them but still well-shy of the play-off positions. After a lunch that was late by our standards but probably still counted as breakfast time to the locals we headed back across the hills to Tortosa.