In a city with as many top tier options for football as Madrid, why should you consider visiting Fuenlabrada, a comparatively unknown side currently playing in Segunda B? Well, I aim to make the case for them as one of Madrid’s hidden gems for a football day out.
Who are they?
Fuenlabrada were founded in 1975 from a merger of two local sides and within eleven years they had climbed up to the Tercera division, reaching Segunda B for the first time in 1994. Recently, they’ve been consistent contenders for promotion to the Segunda, last season reaching the second round of the play-offs before being defeated by Villarreal’s B team.
Last season also brought one of the greatest nights in the club’s history as they were drawn to face reigning European and Spanish champions Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey. After losing the first leg at home, Fuenla produced an outstanding performance to get a 2-2 draw at the Bernabeu in the return leg.
Their stadium is a fairly new construction, only opened in 2011 and it bears the name of Fuenlabrada’s most famous son, scorer of the winning goal in Spain’s Euro 2008 triumph, Fernando Torres. Of course El Niño has never actually played for his hometown team, though who knows, maybe he will be tempted to finish his career there after his spell in Japan is over?
First things first, don’t take the Metro all the way. Line 10 linking to Line 12 (Metro Sur) is one of the longest and slowest journeys in the whole of the Madrid transport network, just don’t do this to yourself! I’m speaking from experience as on my first visit, unaware of better ways of getting there, I did this and it took forever.
The much simpler and faster way of getting there is a combination of Cercanias train and Metro. Atocha to Fuenlabrada via the former is €5,20 for a return ticket and takes about 25 minutes.
Once you get there, you will have to change to the Metro Sur by going downstairs in the station and heading to Platform 2, where it is two stops down the line to Hospital de Fuenlabrada.
As this is in Zone B2, city centre travel passes won’t cover your journeys here, so you will need to buy your tickets before getting the Metro (it’s €3,00 for a return) as you are required to scan your card on the way out.
From Hospital de Fuenlabrada, it’s a 10-15 minute walk down the road until you eventually reach the Estadio Fernando Torres.
It probably goes without saying that Fuenla do not sell out every week, so tickets are readily available on the day of the game. Just make sure you get there in plenty of time because the queues can sometimes build up just prior to kick off.
There are three prices available. €5 to go behind the goals, €10 for the uncovered stand on the far side and finally €15 for a seat under the roof, which may be preferable in Winter given how exposed the rest of the stadium is.
Wherever you go, the view is pretty good and the atmosphere travels around the ground pretty well. The main singing groups can be found at either end, but there is also a group with megaphones in the covered stand. It’s pretty much unreserved seating, though be aware that season ticket holders will probably want to sit in their allocated seat. However, you shouldn’t have a problem finding somewhere with a good view of the action.
Around the Ground
Unfortunately there’s not much worth seeing or doing around the ground as it is a little bit in the middle of nowhere.
There is a decent bar at the ground where you can get drinks or snacks, but if you’re looking for something a bit more substantial, then your best bet is probably the small retail park adjacent to the Hospital de Fuenlabrada Metro stop. There you have fast food options, including Spanish classic 100 Montaditos (if the game is on a Sunday, everything on their menu, drinks included, is €1) to fill up on before or after the game.
There are also bars on Avenida del Hospital (on your right after you exit the Metro) which are a good option for a relaxing drink before you begin the walk to the stadium.
For merchandise collectors, Fuenlabrada do sell replica shirts and pennants and (at last) scarves! I was finally able to add a Fuenlabrada scarf to my collection in May 2019 after my previous three visits where the only ones available were half-and-half scarves commemorating the aforementioned Copa del Rey tie with Real Madrid.
What is it about south Madrid sides and their mascots? Leganés have Super Pepino and at Fuenlabrada you can meet the brilliant/terrifying Kiriko.
Who is Kiriko? Well, he’s a giant chicken (or more accurately, a person in a chicken costume) who wanders around the ground during the game encouraging the crowd. In contrast to most mascots, who rarely stray from the edge of the pitch, Kiriko plays more of an active role, mixing with supporters in the queue for tickets before the game, high-fiving supporters and posing for selfies and even occasionally taking a seat to discuss how the game is going, though I’m not sure how they make themselves understood through that mask – lots of hand gestures are presumably involved.
To further cement the legend of Kiriko, the teams run out for the start of the game from under a giant inflatable replica of him.
Obviously you need to remember, this is Segunda B. The idea that every Spanish team plays flowing possession-based football clearly isn’t the reality, even in the top flight. So when you get down to the third tier (which due to the four regionalised groups, is in reality more like something between the third and sixth tiers combined) you’re going to get some variety in playing style.
Here you find village teams and reserve sides rubbing shoulders with big clubs who have fallen on hard times. Fuenlabrada are definitely not one of the biggest names in their section, with a number of teams having recently spent time in the Segunda, or being the conveyor belts of talent for some of the biggest names in the league.
But despite this, they have continually punched above their weight and if the first few months of this season are anything to go by, they will continue to do so. Their games generally don’t contain many goals (I’ve been to three and the scores have been distinctly binary; 0-0, 1-0 and 1-1) but they’ve contained plenty of incidents and have generally been very entertaining (except the 0-0, that was truly forgettable.) It can be pretty rough sometimes, the recent game I attended between Fuenla and Unionistas de Salamanca was most notable for the amount of snide fouls and off the ball incidents, which only added to the entertainment value.
So if you’re in Madrid and fancy taking in some football away from the glitz and glamour of the Bernabeu and the Wanda, Fuenlabrada is a great place to go!