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Home: Ground Hopping & Programmes: International Hopping:
Madrid Weekend


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Dec 16, 2008, 2:59 PM

Posts: 1036
Location: Leyton, London, England
Team(s): Leyton Orient, Hastings United, CA Huracan

Post #1 of 3 (786 views)
Madrid Weekend Can't Post or Reply Privately

Madrid Weekend

Like several other posters on this message board I have just enjoyed a footballing weekend in Spain, in my case Madrid. Madrid has a large number of football clubs and some excellent stadiums to visit, on top of all the other attractions of a capital city. I was a bit rusty on the Spanish league structure and had to read up a bit in the press when I got there. So far as I can fathom, there are two national divisions, Primera and Segunda, currently with three and one Madrid teams respectively. Below this is the Segunda B, which has four regional, parallel divisions – with five Madrid teams (including the ‘B’ teams of the two big clubs) lurking in Grupo 2, where they enjoy away trips to the Canary Islands amongst other places. Below this are 18 Tercera divisions, including Tercera 7 which is devoted to the greater Madrid area. Next down (you are getting quite low down now) are the Preferente leagues, and Madrid has two of these – I think they are parallel rather than top and lower divisions. Below this Madrid has about twenty ‘Regional’ divisions sorted into three levels, but these are players’ leagues rather than spectators’ leagues. So there are a lot of Madrid clubs. But out of all this lot (actually I did not look below Preferente level) I could find none playing on Friday night and only one playing on Saturday. Sunday presented a vast choice. Anyway, this is where I ended up:

Saturday 13 December 2008: Rayo Majadahonda ‘B’ 3-2 Colmenar Viejo; Madrid Preferente Grupo 1; att: c.70; Entry Euro 5, no programme issued.

Not my ideal fixture, but beggars can’t be choosers and there is a limit to the number of tapas bars and art galleries even I can visit in one day without a football break. Majadahonda is a rapidly growing and quite smart satellite town to the north-west of the city. It is well served by trains on the efficient and frequent suburban rail service, but the station is not handily placed for the town centre. I was expecting the game to be played on the Atletico de Madrid training ground to the south of town, where I believe Rayo’s first team play, but this was dark on arrival. My next prospective venue turned out to be a ‘Campo de Rugby’. Luckily beaming floodlights drew me to the right place and I arrived at the Escuela Municipal de Futbol in the nick of time. This is a very new-looking, council-owned set-up with two floodlit, artificial pitches, both of which were in use. My game was on the main pitch, which has a simple rail and hard standing on two sides. The north end is not available for spectators as it abuts the second pitch. The main facilities are on the west side, where there is a raised stand with three rows of white plastic seats running along most of its length. This stand is uncovered, except at the north end where there is a small roofed section in front of the cosy bar area. On a very cold night, even a crowd this small was jostling for space in the limited shelter available.

I was pleasantly surprised by the standard of play and the game featured a number of spectacular long-range goals. It also featured a lot of yellow cards, often for very minor offences; something which seems to be a feature of Spanish football. Unsurprisingly there was no match programme issued.

Sunday 14 December 2008, 11:30: Club Deportivo Mostoles 4-1 Union Deportivo Collardo Villalba; Tercera 7; att: c.400; Entry Euro 10, teamsheet issued.

A whole host of games to chose from on Sunday morning. I eventually settled on this one as I knew that Mostoles play on a big old ground, whilst the two other games I fancied (at Alcorcon and at San Sebastian de los Reyes) were both to be played at smaller, modern grounds likely to be still around next time I visit. Mostoles is a high density housing area to the south west of the City. Mostoles el Soto station is a 10 minute stroll from the Estadio Municipal el Soto, which itself lies at the heart of a large and busy sporting complex. At least 7 other games were in progress nearby when I arrived. The ground is basically a three sided horseshoe of 12 steps of blue and white-painted concrete terracing. Entry is at the north end, where there is just a rail and sandy standing area in front of the changing rooms and bar area. On the west side, 7 rows of blue and white seats have been bolted onto the terrace and the middle section has a cantilevered roof. In the corner is a manual scoreboard with numbers added after each goal. The ‘1’s and ‘2’s were very rusty and barely legible, the ‘4’ had hardly a spot of rust on it and the ‘5’ that was being prepared in anticipation looked pristine and unused. There is no security fencing within the ground and access is possible to all areas. I don’t have my copy of ‘Groundhopping Informer’ to hand to check, but I would guess the capacity to be around 10,000. Unused grass banking behind the terracing along two sides suggest it might once have been higher.

My photo of this ground is here:

On arrival, the over-riding smell around the ground was of bacon. I soon traced this to the bar and canteen behind the goal. An equivalent game in London might see a bulk order of Lidl’s cheapest streaky and some of last season’s buns found at the back of a cupboard. Here I was able to select from three different cuts of quality meat, served in a freshly baked baguette (Euro 3). A friendly, amiable place the bar was too as I was immediately spotted as a stranger. With a weak winter sun shining and the snow sparkling on the nearby hill-tops, this was a very pleasant place to watch football on a Sunday morning. A photocopied team-sheet was sparingly circulated in the middle of the stand. Even at this level, the best seats at Spanish football are an over-powering mix of fat cigars, fur coats and bold aftershave; so I was far from the area when they were distributed, but picked up a battered copy off the floor at the end of the game. Incidentally, I was in a minority of spectators who left on the final whistle, many staying on for a brandy, another bacon sarnie and a youth game.

Villalba are bottom of the league with just two points, and it showed. A very young team were over-powered and Mostoles were comfortable winners. After my recent goal drought in Argentina, Spain was proving to be a bit of a goal-fest.

Sunday 14 December 2008, 17:00: Club Deportivo Leganes 2-1 Atletico de Madrid ‘B’; Segunda B Grupo 2; att: c.1,000; Entry Euro 12, no programme issued.

My plan had been now to go to the top level game at Getafe. But I was enjoying Madrid lower league football and decided instead to climb just one division and go to the game at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque, at nearby Leganes. This hill-top ground has fairly recently hosted second division football and was a correspondingly more professional set-up, but with little of the charm of Mostoles. By now bitterly cold and with snow clouds threatening, I paid an extra 2 Euros to sit in the main stand on top of the 10 Euro general ground entry price. This is a decent sized, covered stand of modern design and construction. It provides 18 rows of spaciously placed, white, plastic seats. I have sat in similar-sized stands elsewhere with at least twice as many seats. The remainder of the ground is made up of a single, tightly curved stand, raised above pitch level, with nine uncovered rows of blue plastic seats. Opposite the main stand is a semi-functioning electronic scoreboard. Again, the whole ground was open but this time it was not possible here to move between the two structures. The capacity is given as 8,000. Most of the crowd chose the covered stand, but a little group of ‘ultras’ entertained on the far side with a selection of banners and musical instruments, alongside a few ‘normals’ who braved the elements. A Union Jack was unfurled with the legend “CITY OF LEGANES” across the centre.

My photo of this ground is here:

This was a really good game, with some real needle between the two sides. It began in an unusual way. From the kick-off the home players spent a minute kneeling motionless in their positions whilst the bemused ‘B’-ers passed the ball around and sportingly did not score. The whole incident received rapturous applause from the crowd who were clearly very well aware of what was going on and the protest made all the next day’s sports papers. But it was beyond my comprehension levels. Leganes then played very well and took a 2-0 lead by midway through the second half. At this point the referee made his mark. The young Atletico side had been guilty of some terrible ‘simulation’ from the very start, but the ref was increasingly taken in by it all and sent off two home players in quick succession for non-existent punches and elbows; which even as a neutral I felt was very harsh indeed. Perhaps to compensate he also sent an away official to the stand for excessive whinging. This affected the whole game and Atletico piled on late pressure in order to restore some of their fragile, highly-pampered pride. One goal was restored, but even 8 minutes of stoppage time could not secure the draw that they wanted. The whole thing became very heated in this closing sequence; just as well given the arctic temperatures that prevailed.

There was no hint of a programme and many of the facilities at the stadium remained un-opened.

Sunday 14 December 2008, 21:00: Atletico de Madrid 2-0 Real Betis Balompie; Spain Primera; att: 30,000; Entry Euro 45, programme issued.

By the time I left Leganes I felt frozen solid and thought seriously about watching the evening’s big game on TV, thawing out a bit with a nice glass of Rioja and saving myself a lot of cash. But my hotel was within sight of the Estadio Vicente Calderon and as soon as I saw the crowd gathering I knew there was only one place in town to be. Besides, it felt a whole lot warmer here. Whether this was the shelter of the big stands, the shared body heat of the well-wrapped crowd, or just the thick fug of cannabis smoke which seemed to envelope the whole ground I’m not sure. Something warmed me up anyway.

It is fifteen years since I was last lucky enough to visit this great ground. It still basically looks the same but is much smartened up. Gone are the intimidating ‘gradas’, the terraces which loomed over the goalmouths. The place is now of course an all-seater ground. The main stand sits separate to the rest of the structure. A huge, covered, two-tiered affair with blue seats below and red and white blocks of seats above. This is flanked on either side by large video screens. The remainder of the ground has a single, uncovered, wrap-around structure, again in two tiers and mirroring the same colour scheme. At the very top is a ring of private boxes. Obtaining a ticket was very easy indeed. In fact nobody else visited the line of ticket windows throughout the time I was sorting myself out with a decent seat at the front of the upper tier of the ‘Lateral’, close to the half way line. A big gulp as I handed over a 50 Euro note and received my paltry change. I got the distinct feeling that I may be the only non-Socio here tonight. The newspapers blamed the comparatively low attendance on the freezing Madrid weather. But I think the sustainability of the very high prices charged for top-level Spanish football, particularly with so many games like this one shown live on TV, must be questionable. Nevertheless the atmosphere was excellent, with 500 or so Betis supporters forming a green blob amongst the red and white over to my right and the home ultras providing good support from the south end lower tier. Atletico are due to leave this ground in 2011 and move to a new 74,000 capacity ground which they feel will suit their status better than the present 54,000 limit. Plans have just been published, but I think they await approval.

The game was spasmodically very good. But too much consisted of aimless possession football. When Atletico remembered to attack they were very good at it and they scored two memorably good goals whilst playing within themselves. Betis looked to me as if they had psychologically lost the match before the game had even kicked off. Two virtuoso performances were put in by the chaps sitting either side of me. Both nibbled sunflower seeds continuously for the full 90 minutes, pausing neither to cheer or applaud or, seemingly, even to breathe. I settled for a small bag of what appeared to be un-popped popcorn.

I returned from the match with three ‘programmes’. First a bulky, unofficial, newspaper style issue was distributed free outside. Plenty of interest in this one and it left me with a distinct feeling that not all supporters are keen on the idea of leaving the Calderon. The ‘Mediapunta’ magazine, which appears at all Primera games, was also in evidence, but had little that was match-specific beyond the line-ups. Inside the ground there was a free, highly glossy, high quality, A4 official issue – used by most people to sit on as insulation from the cold.

(This post was edited by StephenHarris on Jan 2, 2009, 3:05 PM)

Junior Team Star

Dec 17, 2008, 9:02 AM

Posts: 80
Location: Hove
Team(s): Brighton & Hove Albion/Lewes FC

Post #2 of 3 (735 views)
Re: [StephenHarris] Madrid Weekend [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

Excellent stuff Stephen. Absolutely my favourite city, not just for the football but for the culture, people, bars and food.

First Team Sub

Jan 2, 2009, 3:08 PM

Posts: 1036
Location: Leyton, London, England
Team(s): Leyton Orient, Hastings United, CA Huracan

Post #3 of 3 (589 views)
Re: [DJLast] Madrid Weekend [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

For anybody who is interested, I have finally got around to adding links to my photos of two of the grounds detailed in the posting above.


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