Russians (AD Alcorćon)

After dealing with the throbbing masses at the Bernabeu I was looking for a soothing antidote and some thing well…a little less taxing. Looking down the Tercera and Preferente fixtures in the build up to my trip a number had caught my eye. The military style planning that has become my modus operandi had lead me to the conclusion that the circular Metro Sur (Line 12) to the south of the city is something of a football enthusiasts dream. My internet perusing had determined the line offered at least five decent looking football ground of varying playing standard, so Sunday’s match would be one of them. The metro line has relatively easy access to Getafe CF of the Primera, AD Alcorcón of the Liga Adelante , Segunda B clubs CD Leganés and CF Fuenlabrada as well as Tercera Leaguers CD Móstoles who play at an impressive looking 14,000 seater stadium called the El Soto.

Eyeing AD Alcorcón’s website it indicated that their B team’s Tercera Division game against Royal CD Carabachel would be played at the main Santo Domingo stadium. With the visitors being the 13th oldest club in Spain and junior in age to only Real and Atlético in Madrid, the decision was made.

Agrupación Deportiva Alcorcón have a relatively short history having only been formed in 1971. The club spent its first thirty years bouncing in between the fourth tier of Spanish football and the regional leagues. As recently as 2000/1 the club made its bow in the third tier. After losing in the third tier play offs in 2008/9, the following campaign was by far the best of the Potters (Alfareros) brief existence. Not only did the club achieve promotion to the second tier it also beat a Primera Division club in the Copa del Rey, in their first ever match against top flight opponents. Unbelievably a sold out Santo Domingo witnessed little Alcorcón humble mighty Real Madrid by four goals to nil. A quick perusal of the visitors line ups confirms it was no weakened team, Raúl, Van Nistelrooy, Van der Vaart, Marcelo, Guti and Benzema were some of the names that were embarrassed that night. In the last two seasons the Potters have finished in fourth and fifth places in the Segunda meaning their humble Santo Domingo stadium has been close to staging Primera Liga football.

The Santo Domingo was opened in 1999 and has a modest capacity of 5,880. It has a sizeable main stand but the rest of the stadium is uncovered seating.

Upon arrival to the ground there was a game underway on the 3G pitch in front of the main stadium which also had a stand. To the right of the main stadium is an athletics track with a big main stand and a football pitch in the middle. It soon became clear that the B teams game was not going to be in the main stadium but in yet another smaller venue behind the stadium, Anexo 3. A reasonable amount of people were going into the ground which was equipped with a decent stand and a 3G pitch. The princely sum of €10 gained admission to the match and a full colour teamsheet was readily available. Alcorcón sported a smart yellow and blue kit but the visitors excelled themselves in the sartorial elegance stakes with their white shirts having a large version of their attractive dagger shaped badge as its focal point.

The match itself was a very decent and competitive encounter with a high level of skill on display. With the first half looking like it would remain goalless, the home captain, Rober, rifled home a cracking half volley on the stroke of halftime to separate the sides at the break. The referee was a busy man, theatrically brandishing yellow cards at seemingly every foul. It was a hotly disputed decision midway through the second half that turned the game on its head. With Alcorcón now dominating play the visitors were penalised for a free kick which they vehemently contested. The referee booked three Carabanchel players, the third being a second yellow for Gallardo which, of course, was swiftly followed by a red one. The perceived injustice seemed to galvanise the visitors who piled the pressure on the home defence. The only way they could stop the ten men of Carabanchel was by fouling and they quickly rattled up six yellow cards themselves. Some desperate clearances meant Alcorcón kept their slender advantage intact. That was until the 81st minute when the one cross in they failed to deal with was bundled home by the visitors lanky front man Gazapo. It was just rewards for their sterling efforts with a numerical disadvantage and a point each was a fair reflection of the proceedings.

I will return to see a game at the main stadium one day and before I forget why is this piece called Russians? Well the Alcorcón gateman, who spoke a little English, asked me if I was Russian. Having been mistaken for many nationalities on my travels, mostly for being German, this was indeed a first. After we laughed at the misunderstanding he was most welcoming although I do wish they wouldn’t tear the corners off tickets!

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Tercera División Group 7 – Sunday October 20th 2013

A.D.Alcorcón B (1) 1 (Rober 45)
R.C.D. Carabanchel (0) 1 (Gazapo 81)

Attendance: 255 (at Estadio Santo Domingo Anexa 3)

Alcorcón B:

1. Tito; 2. Marcos; 3. Fran; 4. Sergio; 5. Hamadi; 6. Adrián; 7. Antón; 8. Rober (c); 9. Chema; 10. Jesús; 11. Jaime.

Subs: 12. Pepe; 13. Alberto; 14. Fran Garçia (for 7,86 mins); 15. Alberto González (for 9,77 mins); 16. Mario (for 10,86 mins).

Carabanchel:

25. Rubio; 5. Sampa; 17. Cañas; 2. Olalla (c); 18. Viti; 22. Teto; 8. Álvaro; 24. Gallardo; 16. Cristian; 19. Charly; 26. Gazapo.

Subs: 1. Andres; 23. Alberto (for 16,60 mins); 27. Cuevas; 28. Butra; 29. Amine (for 26,90 mins).

Red Card: Gallardo (Carabanchel)

Yellow Cards: Marcos, Fran, Sergio, Adrián, Chema and Mario (all Alcorcón); Gallardo, Olalla, Teto (all Carabanchel).

Gallery

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The Madding Crowd (Real Madrid)

A trip to the Santiago Bernabeu is high on the list of any serious football fans “must do” stadiums. This classic stadium was inaugurated in 1947 with a match against Portuguese side Os Belenenses and had taken nearly three years to complete. The new Estadio Chamartin was built close to Real’s former Chamartin stadium had been designed by renowned architects Manuel Muñoz Monasterio and Luis Alemany Soler. Within five years the new stadium had been renamed to honour long term Real president Santiago Bernabeu. The new stadium initially held 75,000 but by 1954 had been expanded to a mind-boggling 125,000. Three years later floodlighting came to the Bernabeu and were switched on for the first time in a special match again Brazilian side Sporting Recife.

The stadium remained essentially unchanged until renovations were needed for Spain’s hosting of the 1982 World Cup tournament. In a pleasing symmetry and nod to history and continuity Real engaged the sons of the original architects, Rafael Luis Alemany and Manuel Salinas. Roofing for two thirds of the stadium was a major undertaking as well as the installation of more seating, thus reducing overall capacity to 90,800. The great stadium hosted that memorable final between Italy and West Germany.

In the 1990’s there was further major renovation which saw the now familiar corner towers completed and major works on the foundations to enable the near doubling of the height of the stadium with fourth and fifth tiers. The work was undertaken by Gines Navarro Construcciones and gave the Bernabeu a huge capacity of 110,000. The latter part of that decade saw the stadium move to an all seater arena and a reduced capacity once again of 75,000. Improvements and expansion throughout the 2000’s and even as recently as 2012 has seen the stadium settle at it’s current licensed capacity of 85,454.

The club itself had been formed in March 1902 as Madrid Football Club, the royal ascent was given by King Alfonso XIII in 1920 and the current name of Real Madrid Club de Futbol was adopted. Almost uniquely the club has been member (socio) owned since its inception. The club of course grew into a global phenomenon with a record nine European Cup/Champions League wins which included the first five competitions in a row. Three World Club Cups and no less than 32 Spanish League title gives you an idea of their incredible success particularly in the post World War II years.

From Di Stefano, Puskas, Hugo Sanchez, Butragueno, Juanito through to the Galacticos period of the likes of Raúl, Zidane, Ronaldo, Figo, Roberto Carlos and Cannavaro the club have always attracted the greatest players in the world. Of course the latest star signing Gareth Bale has joined a small group of British players to have worn the famous all white kit. David Beckham, Michael Owen and Steve McManaman all graced this particular stage but less well known is Scotland’s contribution to the long history of Real Madrid.

John Fox-Watson was one of the first British players to move to a high profile foreign club, joining Real Madrid as player/coach in 1948. His transfer from Fulham was many years before the likes of Jimmy Greaves, John Charles and Denis Law left the shores of Great Britain. His career had started modestly with Waterthistle and later on with Douglas Juniors. Via spells at Bury and Fulham he arrived at Real as the club was moving into their new stadium. Fox-Watson only stayed in Spain for a single season and only played one match for the All Whites, away to Celta Vigo, but remains the only Scot to have represented the Spanish giants. He returned to England in the summer of 1949, joining Crystal Palace.

So what is the whole match-day experience like at one of the sports most revered and historic amphitheatres? While many criticise Real Madrid for its juggernaut of commercial enterprises, what is abundantly clear is its embracing and idolatry of its past. I see as many “Juanito” shirts as I do those of current favourites like Isco. The hubbub around the stadium is fascinating to be part of, allsorts of souvenirs are being sold and the Spanish match staple of nuts, nuts and more nuts, are profusely available from stall after stall. Suddenly the chatter is broken by loud whistling, the clopping of horses hooves and the wailing of police sirens. Has trouble broken out? Have the Málaga fans gotten too boisterous? No, none of that it’s the Real team coach sweeping up the road. A sea of humanity parts amid a myriad of camera flashes.

The game itself starts and its high octane stuff from the hosts but they find visiting keeper Willy Caballero in scintillating form. Save after save denies the hosts in the first half with a Ronaldo shot that hit the bar the only one eluding his grasp. Immediately after the break though Málaga are caught cold and the Argentine Di Maria nips in to give Real the expected lead. And it is expected, the relief around the Bernabeu is palpable. They are of course expected to win by a landslide but it does happen, Caballero remains solid as a rock. Malaga fans greet the substitution of their former hero, the wonderfully talented Isco, by bowing en masse in the rafters of the fifth tier. It’s one of the visitors own substitutes that nearly causes an upset when their Ivorian striker Anderson burst clean through only to fire narrowly wide of the home goal. The game is settled in injury time when skipper Weligton upends a marauding Bale. As expected, Ronaldo dispatches the penalty with his customary swagger.

While a trip to the Bernabeu is indeed a wallet emptying experience, and a magnet for tourists from around the world, there is absolutely no denying that the Santiago Bernabeu is truly one of the games greatest stadiums.

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La Liga Primera Division – Saturday October 19th 2013

Real Madrid CF (0) 2 (Di Maria 46, Cristiano Ronaldo pen 90)

Málaga CF (0) 0

Attendance: 78,362 (at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu)

Real:

25. Diego Lopez; 15. Daniel Carvajal; 3.Pepe; 4. Sergio Ramos (c); 12. Marcelo; 6. Sami Khedira; 22. Angel Di Maria; 24. Asier Illaramendi; 23. Isco; 7. Cristiano Ronaldo; 21. Álvaro Morata.

Subs: 1. Iker Casillas; 11. Gareth Bale (for 21,76 mins); 16. Casemiro; 17. Álvaro Arbeloa; 18. Nacho Fernandez; 19. Luka Modrić (for 22,72 mins); 20. Jesé Rodriguez (for 22,81 mins).

Málaga:

1. Willy Caballero; 2. Jésus Gámez; 3. Weligton Oliveira (c); 5. Vitorino Antunes; 21. Sergio Sánchez; 18. Eliseu Pereira; 12. Fernando Tissone; 6. Ignacio Camacho; 7. Mounir El Hamdaoui; 8. Francisco Portillo; 24. Samu Garçia.

Subs: 1. Carlos Kameni; 9. Roque Santa Cruz (for 8,77 mins); 10. Bobley Anderson (for 24,70 mins); 14. Pedro Morales; 17. Duda; 23. Roberto Chen; 30. Sergi Darder (for 5,78 mins).

Yellow Cards: Carvajal (Real); Gamez, Weligton, Antunes, Sánchez, Eliseu (all Málaga).

Gallery

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A Pilgrimage to San Mamés (Athletic Bilbao)

The Estadio San Mamés is renowned worldwide as a truly iconic sporting venue, and it is truly refreshing that Athletic Bilbao are reverentially aware of their history and heritage. But who was San Mamés? Saint Mammes was a third century Christian child martyr thrown to the lions by the Romans at Caesarea with his parents Theodotus and Rufina.

The San Mamés was opened in 1913 and will be celebrating its centenary by being pulled down in favour of the new San Mamés Barria stadium being built next to the current stadium on the site of the Bilbao International Trade Fair. Costing a reported 160 million Euros, the new edifice with have 53,000 seats and Athletic will move in to the initially three sided ground for the start of the 2013/14 season. The old San Mamés will be pulled down and then the fourth side will be constructed.

The current ground is steeped in history, substantially renovated for the 1982 World Cup by Manuel Maria Smith, it has seen some great occasions in world football. It is held in such esteem the nickname of “La Catedral” seems wholly appropriate. The statue of Rafael Moreno Aranzadi, “Pichichi” scorer of the first goal at San Mamés and a prodigious scorer in his career watches over the turf he graced with such skill. Though he had a short life, dying at the age of 30 from suspected typhus, Moreno is revered through the Basque region and the country as a whole. His nickname is given to the leading goalscorer award in the Spanish League each season and it is something of a tradition on European nights that the visiting captain lays flowers at the statue of Pichichi. It is said the gift will be rewarded with a good season and plenty of goals. The club’s rich history is admirably mapped out in the superb museum, voices and images of the past from the greats like Rafael Moreno, Iribar, Dani and Exteberria loom large over this season’s underachieving squad.

The Bilbao team that wowed Europe last season has broken down, players have left and star striker Fernando Llorente has been at loggerheads with the club all season and barely played. Their abject performance in the Europa League Group I against the likes of Lyon and Hapoel Kiryat Shmona has meant tonight’s game against Sparta Prague is meaningless, the hosts already out and the visitors safely through to the next stage.

Llorente is picked and given the captains armband, but his every touch is greeted with derision by the home crowd. “San Mamés divorces Llorente” screams El Correo the following morning. Llorente is pulled off at half-time along with Iker Muniain, Spain’s enfant terrible from their implosive Olympic football tournament campaign. Muniain, dubbed “the Spanish Messi”, having scant impression on a poor first half.

The second half is played out and it is the visitors that should have won, some profligate finishing on several occasions meaning the game ends in a drab 0-0 draw.

It is a shame that the San Mamés’ last European encounter was such poor fair, a decent and noisy crowd of 30,000 had paid a minimum of 38 Euros (unless you are a Socio) to witness the match.

The stadium empties and the famous arch of San Mamés glows in the night sky, it should survive the demolition. Unlike the ignominious demise of Wembley’s Twin Towers the arch is planned to be used as a footbridge over the Nervión, supporter’s wishes of its incorporation into the new stadium could not be accommodated but at least it will live on.

Despite a dull game, this visit will live long in the memory. Rarely have I been to a city where its football club means so much. Shutters are painted red and white, flags flutter on balconies, sun baked pennants adorn the walls of cafes and bars. This truly is more than a football club, it’s a cultural identity, Athletic are still fervently in favour of their Basque only player policy and they should be commended for their stance. Athletic is Bilbao, the blood that moves its body.

Athletic Bilbao (0)0 AC Sparta Prague (0)0

Attendance: 30,434

Atheltic:

13.Raúl Mateos; 2.Gaizka Toquero; 28.Jonás Ramalho; 6.Mikel San José; 26.Igor Martínez; 8.Ander Iturraspe; 16.Ismail López; 19.Iker Muniain; 22.Xabier Castillo; 9.Fernando Llorente(c); 36.Aymeric Laporte.

Subs: 1.Gorka Iraizoz; 3.Jon Aurtenetxe; 11.Ibai Gómez; 20.Aritz Aduriz (for 19,46 mins); 23.Borja Ekiza; 39.Erik Morán (for 9,46 mins); 40.Álvaro Peña (for 2,46 mins).

Sparta:

1.Marek Cech; 4.Ondrej Svejdík; 19.Matej Hybs; 20.Tomas Zápotocny; 22.Josef Husbauer; 16.Pavel Kaderábek; 25.Mario Holek; 24. Vlastimil Vidlicka; 8.Marek Matejovsky(c); 11.Leonard Kweuke; 17.Jiri Skalák.

Subs: 9.Bekim Balaj (for 11,82 mins); 14.Václav Kadlec (for 16,69 mins); 26.Milan Jirásek; 27.Roman Polom; 31.Tomas Vaclík; 32.Adam Janos (for 8,87 mins); 37.Peter Grajicar.

Yellow cards: Zápotocny and Kadlec (Sparta)

Gallery

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Bizkaian Hospitality (SD Zamudio)

A little more than fifteen minutes outside of the city of Bilbao lies the small village of Zamudio. The local side Sociedad Deportiva Zamudio have been plugging away in the nether reaches of Spanish football since their formation in 1943. A brief flirtation in Segunda B in the mid 1990’s was the zenith of their progress to date. These days they play in the Tercera Division (the fourth tier of Spanish football), a veritable leviathan of a regional competition featuring no less than 18 divisions. Zamudio and today’s visitors compete in Section 4 which covers this area of the Basque region, or Bizkaia in Euskara. Arriving at the Campo Gazituaga for the 4.30pm kick off, I am slightly surprised that the handwritten sign on the entrance table is asking for 13 Euros for entry but the ground looks inviting and the elderly man in charge of admissions, despite not having a word of English, is very welcoming, providing a teamsheet and organising a free pin badge from the bar for his unexpected visitor.

The bar is handsomely equipped and dispensing liberal glasses of red wine amongst other welcome beverages. The stand, which could seat 500 people, is smart and set into what looks like a large traditional Bizkaian house. Its effortless beauty adorned with a large and smartly painted badge prominently positioned at the rear of the stand. On the far side is ample and somewhat unusual wooden terracing. Also in the corner on the far side sits a traditional manual scoreboard.

The scoreboard wasn’t troubled until injury time in the first half, when Luariz, shaven headed centre forward for the visitors, was upended by Santamaria for a penalty. Not for the first time strict referee, Senor Mardones, flourished a yellow card with not inconsiderable zeal. The spot kick was neatly dispatched by Elustondo. The referee had already reduced the visitors to ten men when Aranburu was shown a straight red card, having already been booked, for a rugged challenge on Jaba.

Lagun made the decisive breakthrough seconds into the restart when Luariz was allowed to waltz through the home defence and slot the ball past Galder with some aplomb. Four minutes later the referee reduced the visitors to nine men when an injudicious handball by Ruben resulted in a second yellow card followed by a red for the midfielder. The impressive Luariz was immediately sacrificed so a defender could take the field.

The anticipated siege on the visiting goal really did not happen to the last five minutes of this decent encounter when Zamudio finally upped the tempo and dominated their numerically disadvantaged guests. Bulky centre forward Libano pulled a goal back but any sharing of the spoils would have been harsh on the visitors.

Senor Mardones must still be writing up his reports following his ten yellow cards and two red cards brandished with alarming regularly throughout the game.

SD Zamudio (0) 1 (Libano 89) CD Lagun Onuk (1)2 (Elustondo pen 45,Luariz 46)

Attendance: 114

Zamudia:

1.Galder; 3.Santamaria; 4.Lander; 5.Iglesias; 9.Libano; 10.Jaba; 11.Barrena; 15.Liher; 16.Erlantz(c); 17.Alex; 18.Solaun.

Subs: 2. Ekaitz; 6.Ruben (for 18,46 mins); 7.Borja (for 16,46 mins); 8.Butron (for 4,53 mins); 13.Aiarza.

Lagun Onuk:

1.Olaizola; 2.Egana; 3.Tena(c); 4.Benat; 5.Goikoetxea; 6.Aranburu; 7.Elustondo; 8. Palacios; 9.Luariz; 10.Ruben; 11.Santesteban.

Subs: 12.Unai (for 11,74 mins); 13.Otano; 14. Iriando (for 9,50 min); 15.Arregi; 16.Ortega (f0r 8,82 mins).

Yellow cards: Santamaria, Libano, Jaba, Barrena and Alex (Zamudio); Olaizola, Aranburu, Palacios, Luariz and Ruben (Lagun Onuk)

Red Cards: Aranburu and Ruben (Lagun Onak)

Gallery:

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