Greetings from Madrid at the start of a new month!
Did anyone else feel like January would never end? I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like that. After two weeks of relaxation at home during the Christmas holidays, returning to the normal routine takes some getting used to so it’s safe to say I’m glad to have this past month over and done with.
February is going to feel a lot shorter with a lot of things packed into it so it should fly by!
Where I’ve been
I started off the month back at home in Northern Ireland and finished it off here in Madrid as usual. There was only one slight detour, I flew back to Spain via the Belfast-Málaga route and spent the night of 6th January on the Costa del Sol.
Sadly there was no time for a match while so was there, although I did fly over La Rosaleda during Málaga’s shock 3-0 home defeat by Reus, who since then have been kicked out of the Segunda and banned from professional football in Spain for failing to pay their players.
I did also manage to see the Christmas lights on Calle Marques de Larios (aka ‘the magical tunnel of lights’ ©️ Sarah), which surely must be among the best in Spain.
The long bus journey back to Madrid the following day was made to feel shorter by binge-watching Line Of Duty on Netflix. I’m super late to the party on this, having missed its original TV airing due to being in Spain, but I started watching while I was at home and quickly got hooked on it. With short series (or seasons as they say in America) of 5/6 episodes, it was really easy to get through. Plus the fact it’s filmed in Belfast led to some fun location-spotting.
Most Popular Post
It was a good month for traffic on the blog, the first full month on the new domain. It was a close-run thing but Picking My Madrid Team II: The Half-Term Report ended up as the most read post. Here I went through the La Liga and Segunda teams from the city and communidad and in true teacher fashion, have them a grade for their performance in the primera vuelta of the season.
Of all the teams I rated, Rayo Vallecano have undoubtedly responded the best, with a superb run of form in January lifting them out of the relegation zone.
Game of the Month
Plenty of choice in this category as I’ve seen some exceptional matches this month.
I’ve gone for the sentimental choice of Coleraine 4-1 Cliftonville from New Year’s Day, which wasn’t just a great game on a crisp January afternoon, it was a chance to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen since the end of August. Much had changed at Coleraine since I left for Madrid in September, but they’re my number one team and as the old saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
I’ve seen a couple of cracking games in Madrid over the last couple of weeks as well, so be sure to check out the 2018/19 in Pictures recaps for more about Rayo 2-2 Real Sociedad and Leganés 2-2 Eibar.
Picture of the Month
Sunset at Leganés vs Eibar. No further words required.
The Mis Viajes En Fútbol Curse
At the end of November I published All About Alcorcón, looking at how the tiny club from the south west of Madrid had risen to the top of La Segunda.
Playing attractive football and boasting the best defensive record in Spain, I said they had to be taken seriously as promotion contenders. But no sooner than I had published that post, they lost.
And then they lost again. And again. In fact, between the publication of the post and the 27th of January, they picked up a solitary point before breaking the curse with a 2-1 home win over Córdoba – a match I had considered going to before a bout of flu laid me low on Sunday afternoon.
We’ll soon see if they can return to their early season form on a permanent basis. In the meantime, I’m available to jinx teams for a small fee.
Book of the Month
I’ve enjoyed David Squires’ regular cartoons for The Guardian over the last few years, so this compilation of some of the best ones was a pretty obvious purchase for me with some of my leftover Christmas money.
I’ve passed quite a few bus journeys to work browsing through it. Grouped by theme, Squires covers the madness of Jose Mourinho, the annual outrage about wearing/not wearing poppies, the uneasy relationship between football and politics, the major international tournaments of Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018 and a series of cartoons only connected by the fact they feature a character named Janet.
Personal favourite – The Arsene Wenger/Gunnersaurus spin on The Shawshank Redemption.
Shirts of the Month
Normally this section is reserved for a kit I see in action during the month which is aesthetically pleasing to me. Indeed had I been attending the reverse fixture between Rayo Vallecano v Real Sociedad, it would have thrown up a clash between two of the best kits in La Liga this season, Rayo’s black with red sash effort and La Real’s classic blue and white striped home effort.
Instead, it’s shirts I’ve bought that take the spotlight this month.
While at home for the holidays I had to get my hands on the current Coleraine home shirt. Partially because I have every Coleraine home shirt going back to about 2000 and also because it was the shirt the Bannsiders wore when they lifted the Irish Cup back in May.
The Leganés shirt was just opportunism. It was cheap, reduced to €19,99 in their excellent new store at Butarque. Would you believe that it is the first Spanish club football shirt that I’ve bought since I moved here in 2013?
I generally don’t buy football shirts very often these days, thanks to the ridiculous prices they retail at but when you see a bargain, it’s hard to resist!
Well, February is going to be a pretty busy month. Next weekend I’m going to get the opportunity to accomplish one of my Six Football Dreams for 2019 by going to the Derbi Madrileño at the Wanda.
Unfortunately because of Real Madrid’s midweek Champions League commitments it’s a Saturday afternoon kick off, but it should still be a special occasion, especially if both sides could get a little closer to Barça before then.
Then the following weekend I’m playing host, as one of my friends from back home visits Madrid. Safe to say there will be a lot of football watched that weekend.
Then at the end of the month, it’s my birthday! Which is unfortunately during the week and with me no longer being in Andalucía, I don’t have what had become the traditional ‘day after my birthday’ holiday. I’m hoping that by the time March rolls around I’ll have some travel plans outside the Madrid area to share with you.
All the best,