Hello from Madrid!
September has been a really busy month for me. When I wrote my last Monthly Musings post, I was still at home in Northern Ireland, enjoying my extended Summer holidays. Since then, I’ve moved to Madrid, settled into a new flat, started a new job, made a quick visit to Huelva and, most importantly for this blog, attended five football matches.
I’ve seen games in all top three divisions in Spain already, in four different grounds, two of which were new to me. I’ve dealt with the first four games in a lot more detail here, so if you want to read a bit more about my visits to Fuenlabrada, Rayo Vallecano and the Wanda (x2), check that out.
My highlight of the month was probably getting to finally go to a game at Atlético’s magnificent new stadium on September 15, a great experience despite the oppressive heat of a lunchtime kick-off and being seated in the full glare of the sun for 90+ minutes. Although not a classic, there was plenty of drama late on with Atlético surprisingly going behind with only a few minutes left and then equalising deep into stoppage time. A week earlier I also took the stadium tour at the Wanda, which gave me a bit more background knowledge of behind-the-scenes stuff there. My favourite thing I learned? That the Atlético dressing room has a fridge which displays a slideshow of the team’s best moments on the door. Like one of those digital photo frames you can buy, but with drinks inside. So better.
I also managed to get up close (but not too close) to the two trophies Atlético have won in the last few months, the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup, the latter coming in August after a memorable win over arch-rivals Real Madrid in Talinn.
Game of the Month
Of the five games I’ve seen this month, the best all-round experience was at Rayo Vallecano v Alavés. There was a brilliant atmosphere throughout, both from the home fans who kept singing even though they were getting gubbed, and the away fans situated above me, who obviously enjoyed their trip to the capital.
The action on the pitch was pretty good too, with both sides starting at a frenetic pace, though the midday heat (and for Rayo, having to play for over half the game with ten men) eventually took its toll on the teams. I was very impressed with Alavés, who took their chances brilliantly and despite the result, I thought Rayo showed enough going forward to suggest they can be competitive this season. They’ll certainly be fun to watch if this is anything to go by!
Moan of the Month
Definitely what happened when I turned up outside the Wanda to watch Rayo Majadahonda v Extremadura. Only having three taquillas open resulted in a horrendous queue and caused me and lots of others (mostly visiting Extremadura fans) to miss the first half hour of the match. Lesson learned though, when I next decided to take in a Rayo Majadahonda game there, I’ll be there well in advance.
A secondary moan of the month would be missing out on the Madrid derby on September 29. I thought that going to a big game would have been the perfect way to round off my first month in the city, but with tickets starting at €90 for a seat up in the gods, I decided against it. Fortunately it wasn’t a great game anyway and my bank balance is significantly better off for giving it a miss.
Most Popular Post
It’s a second month in a row for Picking My Madrid Team! Published towards the end of August, it continued to pick up plenty of hits in the first half of the month. In case you’re wondering, no I haven’t settled on a team yet, although I have been to see five of the eight contenders so looked at in the post.
Following close behind was A Stadium Called Wanda, my look at visiting Atlético’s new ground for the first time which was only published last Monday.
What’s up next?
I’m hoping October can be another productive month in terms of games. I want to head to Leganés v Rayo next Saturday night (and see Super Pepino). The following week is an international weekend and a puente here in Madrid, so I was hoping to be able to travel to Northern Ireland’s away game in Vienna against Austria, but the price of flights has unfortunately ruled that out. It’s a shame as it seemed like the perfect chance to go and see my first NI game since Euro 2016 and visit one of my favourite cities to boot.
Thanks to everyone who has been reading the blog in the last month, especially those of you who have been liking and retweeting the posts on Twitter. I’m getting better at using the blog account (@viajesenfutbol) to post stuff but I still end up using my personal account (@andrewgillan) to interact with people.
Until next month then, all the best!