The Path of a Lightning Bolt (Rayo Vallecano)

Ah Rayo Vallecano, red sashes (“Los Franjirrojos”, what a nickname!) on their white kit, a great three-sided stadium shoehorned into the urban sprawl of Vallecas and fantastic ultras in the Bukaneros, what’s not to love about Madrid’s very own “cult” club?

Well following a very public fall out between Rayo owner Rául Martin Presa and the Bukaneros and a wily manager in Paco Jémez who is constantly forced into sell his key players then you have a club lurching headlong into crisis.

According to posters around the ground the Bukaneros had called for a boycott of the match and forthcoming matches for a number of reasons. High on the list of complaints against Presa were the ban on materials used for the ultras famous animations (police recently raided the Bukaneros HQ and confiscated 400 flares) and alleged “discrimination” against anyone sporting any form of Bukaneros imagery. The ultras are also up in arms over the investment in Rayo OKC a new club based in Oklahoma City owned by Presa and licensed to compete in the NASL.

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The fans argue that their own club needs investment with the likes of Léo Baptistão (Atlético Madrid), Michu (Swansea City) and Borja López (AS Monaco) and several other quality players being sold in recent seasons to balance the books.

The story of Rayo Vallecano starts back in 1924 with the formation of Agrupación Deportiva El Rayo. They played in local leagues at a ground called Campo de la Calle de las Erillas which was very close to the current stadium. This was home until 1940 when it was required for urban expansion, and the club relocated to the Campo de El Rodival. The immediate post war years were pivotal for the club, they were now called AD Rayo Vallecano and had become effectively a subsidiary of Atlético Madrid. In 1949 the Rovidal was used by River Plate of Buenos Aires as a training facility ahead of a prestigious friendly against Real Madrid. To thank Rayo for their hospitality the Argentinians donated a full set of their kit to the club which created the long association with the iconic red sashed shirts.

In 1957 Rayo moved into the renovated Campo de Vallecas, a former home venue of Atlético. This remained home until the current venue was built between 1972 and 1976 which meant Rayo spent three seasons at the Campo de Vallehermoso in Chamberí.

During this period the club had bounced in between the Tercera and Segunda Divisions but after a record breaking unbeaten season in 1964/65 secured a return to the Segunda Rayo became a force to be reckoned with. Their return to the Nuevo Campo de Vallecas for the 1976/77 was topped off with a first ever promotion to La Primera.

The club continued to climb and enjoyed a first season in European competition in 2000/01 when wins against Constelació Esportiva, Molde, Viborg, Lokomotiv Moscow and Bordeaux saw Rayo in the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Cup. Paired against compatriots Deportivo Alavés. In a memorable pairing it was the Basques who won 4-2 on aggregate.

The club was run in these times by Teresa Rivero a President who failed to endear herself to the Vallecans by renaming the stadium after…herself! She also presided over the double relegations of 2002/03 and 2003/04. By 2011 Rivera was finally gone, the stadium name restored to Campo de Vallecas and better still the club had won promotion back to La Primera. The only downside was debts amounting to €22 million which has prompted the cautious housekeeping of recent years.

Today’s game sees both hosts and vistors, Málaga, perilously close to the drop zone and while there is still colour and noise from the home support the Fondo occupied by the Bukaneros is somewhat sparsely populated and palpably subdued. Rayo fielded Bebé and Manucho both remembered in England for their comically short careers at Manchester United. Bebé threatened at times but looked heavy and was outshone on the opposite wing by Lass Bangoura whose trickery produced the opening goal early on for the impressive Javi Guerra. However, the hosts failed to capitalise on their lead and Málaga deservedly secured the points with a winner late on in the match from the Croatian striker Duje Čop.

Rayo Vallecano is a club with a heart and a conscience in an increasingly murky sport. This is the club whose away kit and third kit are sold to support anti racism/homophobia charities and breast cancer awareness respectively. This is a club whose players agree to come to work on the metro to reduce their carbon footprint. This is a club who declared their support to the 2012 General Strike in Spain as a show of solidarity with its working class ethos. This a club whose coaching staff and players pay the rental costs for life on an apartment for 85 year old Vallecan resident Carmen Martínez Ayudo who was unceremoniously evicted after her son defaulted on loan secured on her property without her knowledge. This is a club who knows football without fans is nothing, a well used strap line President Presa would do well to remember.

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Sunday December 13th 2015 – La Liga Primera Division

Rayo Vallecano 1 (Javi Guerra 7)
Málaga CF 2 (Charles 59, Čop 87)

Att: 9,423 (at Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas)

Admission: €30 Programme: Free

Gallery

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Rayo ticket

Southend United’s pre-season tour of Madrid – Part 2

Rayo Vallecano, Sunday July 29th 2012

Kick off:7.15pm

Rayo Vallecano B 1 (Ruben 10)

Southend United 1 (Eastwood 17)

Another superb training facility in the middle of nowhere, Blues turned up with problems from the start. The coach was having hydraulic problems which meant for a while it looked like the kit could not be reached from the hold. That problem resolved it looked for a while that the game wouldn’t take place as the grass pitch that we were supposed to be using had no markings at all. Pitch 3, a dry looking Astroturf pitch, was offered as an alternative but Sturrock and the boys didn’t look keen on the idea. Finally pitch 4 was agreed, a modern 3G pitch with a small bleacher style seated stand which housed the Southend contingent and the locals. The crowd numbered 167 including the ubiquitous local with a megaphone who sang for the entire 90 minutes although strangely he was wearing a Cadiz scarf.

The row over the pitch delayed the kick off to 7.15pm but it was still 33 degrees when the game started, Blues reverting to 4-4-2. Blues had the opening chance with Prosser heading wide when a goal looked certain. Rayo came into the game with a spell of pressure, Smith flapped at a cross conceding a needless corner and then again showed a vampirical fear of crosses when the corner came over. Rayo pressured again and took the lead 10 minutes in when Ruben found the corner from 20 yards out with a powerful strike. Seven minutes later Blues were level, Hall took a free kick on the left flank Benyon headed goalwards and Bielsa could only parry the ball to his right side and Eastwood gratefully volleyed home from close range. A strange incident occurred in the 22 minute, Owusu thought he had been fouled and grabbed the ball, the ref awarded a free kick for handball. Owusu went down to the ground indicating he was injured and then walked off the pitch and out of the ground to take no further part in the match. David Martin had a good opportunity to put Southend 2-1 up but headed over when unmarked. The referee failed to spot a blatant foul on Coughlan which lead to vehement appeals for a penalty. The first half ended at 1-1 with the pick of the players being Elliot Benyon who toiled manfully upfront with Freddy playing just off him.

Only change at half time was Bentley on for Smith. The young keeper was called into action early on saving smartly from Suso and then Nanclares. Just after the hour Sturrock called on four of his subs, putting Cresswell up front with Tomlin. Five minutes later Mark Phillips came only to be booked within a minute for a deliberate handball when attacking a corner. Cresswell battled well upfront and had a couple of decent chances, he was booked however when his foot went high on a Rayo defender. Southend finished in the ascendancy and should have won the match, the lively Tomlin had a great chance on 83 minutes but headed straight at the keeper.

At the conclusion of the match the players asked for the fans to come onto the pitch for a tour photograph which was a nice touch. Megaphone man had the last laugh, however, gatecrashing the club photo. Fair play to him.

Rayo:

1.Bielsa (sub:13.Carlos 46) 2.Owusu (sub:12.Pepe 23) 3.Nacho 4.Gabri 5.Suso 6.Thiobane (sub:14.Mario 57) 7.Manquillo (sub:15.Nanclares 46) 8.Juanito (sub:16.Diego 46) 9.Nesa (sub:17.Valdivia 46) 10.Chevi © (sub:18.Alberto Oca 46) 11.Ruben (sub:19.Ranera 46)

Booking: Owusu (handball)

Blues:

1.Smith (sub:13.Bentley 46) 2.Clohessy (sub:15.Straker 65) 3.Prosser 4.Leonard (sub:17.Ferdinand 65) 5.Coughlan (sub:12.Phillips 68)  6.Barker © 7.Hall 8.Brogan  (sub:16.Hurst 75) 9.Benyon (sub:14.Cresswell 65) 10.Eastwood (sub:18.Tomlin 65) 11.Martin

Unused sub:19.Harris

Bookings: Leonard (foul), Phillips (handball), Cresswell (foul)