Monthly Musings (December 2018)

Hello from Madrid for the last Monthly Musings of 2018!

November has been a pretty busy month for me in every part of my life. The end of the first term of the academic year is fast approaching, so that means lots of exams to correct, Christmas is coming, so there are presents to buy, there’s been a rather exciting development in my personal life (more on that later) and of course, I’ve been busy going to matches and producing content for this blog!

Game of the Month

Compared to the last few months, November has been a bit of a quieter month for football. I’ve only gone to three matches, but thankfully one of them was a proper classic.

Rayo Vallecano are always good entertainment so I was excited to make my second visit of the season to Vallecas as they took on Villarreal on November 11. Attacking football and ropey defending we’re both in plentiful supply as the two teams fought out and end-to-end 2-2 draw. Neither side deserved to lose, but Rayo will probably feel most frustrated at the result, having come from behind to lead and dominate the early part of the second half, before running out of steam.

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Some final instructions for Santi Cazorla before he entered the field in Vallecas

For Villarreal, it was nice to see a wee cameo from Santi Cazorla, back at one of his former clubs as he continues his recovery from a horrific injury which robbed him of almost two years at the peak of his career and left him at one stage wondering if he’d ever be able to walk again.

Book of the Month

img_9772Jonathan Wilson has been one of my favourite football writers for quite a while now, ever since I first read his book ‘Behind the Curtain’ about football in Eastern Europe after the collapse of Communism. ‘Inverting the Pyramid’, his history of the evolution of football tactics, is another personal favourite.

So with all the hype about Superclásico rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate meeting for the first time ever in the final of the Copa Libertadores, South America’s equivalent of the Champions League, I decided that the time was right to properly dive into his history of Argentine football, called ‘Angels with Dirty Faces’.

My attempts at getting through the book have thus far proved as successful as those to get the Libertatdores Final played. Divided into seven sections, I’ve so far read the first two, which cover the origins of the game in Argentina and then everything up to 1958 when Argentina went out of the World Cup in the first round, finishing behind the mighty Northern Ireland!

It’s just such a detailed book that even a quick reader like myself can’t just breeze through it. There’s so much to take in, especially as I wouldn’t consider myself to be that familiar with the subject matter. I’ve also been alternating my reading a bit this month, switching between this and the Hilary Mantel ‘Wolf Hall’ novels about the life of Thomas Cromwell (which I’ve made considerably more progress on.)

Maybe the news of the Libertadores Final now being played in Madrid will lead to me getting a move on and finishing it! Although it would probably be extremely expensive and nigh-on impossible to get tickets, going to a Boca-River match here (and such an important one too) is probably a once in a lifetime experience. Could I really afford not to go?

Most Popular Post

The spiritual sequel to Picking My Madrid Team, Seven Things I’ve Learned So Far in Madrid, has also proved to be one of the popular posts I’ve made this year! It was fun to write as a way of summing up my first couple of months in Madrid and it did make me think about a few things, notably the problem of early Sunday kick-offs.

It was only published on Monday, but I’ve already had a lot of positive responses to my look at the potential miracle in progress at Alcorcón. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out!

Visiting Salamanca

I visited Salamanca at the start of November, spending the best part of two days there over the puente.

I’d never been there before, so it was nice to spend a couple of days away from the busy city, exploring a place that was completely new to me. The weather was great too, which meant I was treated to views like that of the cathedral above.

I managed to take in the three key sights for any visitor to Salamanca: the old Cathedral, the University and its Plaza Mayor. I found the Astronaut on the door of the Cathedral and the frog on the facade of the University building – something which students at the university traditionally do before their exams to bring them good luck. It’s also teeming with affordable tapas bars and you simply can’t leave without trying the leche merengada ice cream from Novelty in Plaza Mayor!

It wasn’t a football trip so I didn’t visit the city’s stadium, located well outside the centre. I was also a bit disappointed (but not surprised) to see city’s two teams totally unrepresented in the football section of any of the hundreds of souvenir shops I visited. However, I did manage to get a photo of Salamanca’s most famous footballing son, Spain’s World Cup-winning manager Vicente del Bosque – well, at least a very recently erected statue of him.

Some pretty big personal news…

Not long after returning from Salamanca I asked a certain someone a very important question… and she said “Yes”!

I’ve not really mentioned this side of my life much on the blog (since you know, it’s mostly about football and stuff like that) but Sarah and I have been together for 14 months (as of today) and being with her has changed my life completely. For most of our first year together, we were in a long-distance relationship, with her in Madrid and me in Huelva, so that was the major reason I decided to make the move to the big city in the summer.

I’ve known for quite a while that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her and was considering proposing while we were away in Salamanca, but eventually decided against it and instead went for Puerta del Sol on a chilly Sunday evening, sitting by the same fountain where a year before, I’d told her for the first time that I loved her.

BTW Sarah is also a blogger and her blog, Sarah La Viajera, is well worth a look. There’s not much football on it, though that may change in the future. She’s going to Leganés with me next week to meet Super Pepino and have a lomo sandwich!

What’s Up Next

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Christmas Lights in Puerta del Sol – 2016 Style

Before the madness of Christmas begins, Spain is nice enough to provide us with another puente next weekend! I’m going to take full advantage of this by going to three matches in three days! First up, Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey tie with Melilla at the Bernabeu which helpfully kicks off at 4:15 on Thursday afternoon. Then it’s off to Leganés again on Friday night for the South Madrid derby against Getafe before finishing things off at the Wanda on Saturday afternoon for Atlético v Alavés! There’s also the small matter of that Copa Libertadores Final that same weekend…

I am also heading back home for the Christmas holidays so that should mean I’ll get a few Northern Irish matches in while I’m there including, weather permitting, one ground I have never been to before!

It feels too early to write this but as this is my last Monthly Musings until the new year, I’d like to take the opportunity to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and to thank you for all the likes, shares, retweets and comments I’ve received over the past few months. Since August, I’ve managed to hit my targets for at least four posts a month and the number of hits on the blog. The number of visitors is going up steadily as well. This may be just a hobby at the moment, but I love sharing my stories with you and I also love hearing back from you!

So until next time,

All the best,

Andrew

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