Getafe: More Than Meets The Eye

The name Getafe may not resonate with the same history and glamour as Real Madrid and Atlético, but they could be joining them in Europe’s elite competition next season.

A Potted History

Football in Getafe goes back to the 1920’s but aside from a few seasons in Segunda from Getafe Deportivo in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, there wasn’t much to get excited about. The club in its current form as Getafe CF was founded in 1983 a year after Deportivo had been liquidated for financial problems.

They rose through the ranks quickly to reach Segunda again, then dropped back down again, only just avoiding relegation to the Tercera in 1997. They continued to yo-yo between Segunda and Segunda B for a few seasons until a remarkable 2003/04 season saw them promoted to La Liga for the first time.

Expected to go straight back down, they defied expectations and finished a comfortable 13th. The following year was even better and they came 9th, a feat they repeated in the 2006/07 season where they also reached their first ever Copa del Rey Final, stunning Barcelona in the semi finals. After winning the first leg 5-2, Barça probably had one eye on a final against Sevilla, but Getafe produced a remarkable comeback, winning 4-0 at the Coliseum with goals from Casquero, Dorado and a brace from Dani Güiza. Sevilla would edge the final at the Bernabéu 1-0, but their qualification for the final had earned Geta the right to participate in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup.

Here they produced an amazing run to the quarter finals, culminating in an enthralling tie against Bayern Munich. After drawing 1-1 at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Getafe went down to ten men early in the second leg, but still took the lead through a goal from Romanian international Cosmin Contra. However, a last-minute equaliser from Franck Ribery forced extra time. They then went 3-1 ahead but a brace from Luca Toni sent the German giants through on away goals. 2008 also saw them reach a second successive Copa final, but once again there was no fairytale ending as Valencia won 3-1 at the Vicente Calderon.

A sixth place finish in 2010 earned another shot at Europe, now in the rebranded Europa League but this time they exited at the group stage.

Zombies, Tinder and the Burger King

Getafe’s fanbase has earned something of a reputation. Not for being extremely entitled like Real Madrid, not for left-wing activism like Rayo, not even for violence like certain English teams. It’s for erm, not really existing.

This is somewhat unfair. They are a small, rather unfashionable club from the outskirts of a city which boasts two of the biggest football clubs in the world. Anyone who chooses Getafe (or indeed Leganés, Rayo or another local club) deserves praise, not mockery.

But during Geta’s initial run in La Liga, the small crowds at their home games frequently became a stick to beat the club with. And the club responded in typically good humour.

First up we have a video from their season ticket campaign in 2011. Here the club encourages supporters to donate sperm so that more babies will be born with Getafe DNA and help them conquer the world of football. As a side note, the video includes a movie about horny zombies (from Getafe of course).

Presumably this didn’t have the desired effect because several years later, after Tinder had revolutionised the dating scene, along came Getafinder. An ad for a social dating app aiming to help Getafe supporters find their perfect partner at the Coliseum.

And I’m sure for a lot of people, the first exposure to Getafe they had was not from their Copa del Rey Final appearances, nor for their UEFA Cup runs, but for the fact they had a shirt with a picture of the Burger King on it.

I’m unable to find if anyone ever risked a booking to celebrate in this fashion.

So if that’s got you interested, here’s everything you need to know about visiting Getafe!

Buying Tickets

This should prove relatively stress-free because (as mentioned above) Getafe very rarely fill their stadium. Their average attendance so far this season is around 10,000 with the Coliseum’s capacity being over 17,000. In fact, on my two visits I’ve been able to take advantage of empty seats around me to move to a slightly better position, or sit with a friend who had a ticket for a different sector.

One reason for this is that tickets are relatively pricey. For an average league game, they start at €35 for a seat behind the goal, €40 for the uncovered lateral este and €50 for the covered lateral oeste. The most vocal home fans are seated in the Fondo Sur, so if you fancy joining in with the rousing chorus of “Lucha Getafe” that’s the best place to head.

As is the case everywhere in Spain, prices will go up for visits of bigger teams and especially for derbies with Real Madrid and Atlético, it will be harder to get tickets as away fans will buy up more of the available seats.

Getting There

As with the other grounds to the south of the city centre, the best way to get there is take the Cercanias train from Atocha. Take Line C4 heading towards Parla and get off at Las Margaritas/Universidad and it’s just a short 10-15 minute walk to the Coliseum.

There’s also Line C3 which goes to El Casar, a bit further to walk, although if you don’t want to walk and don’t mind paying for a short Metro journey, you can hop on a train to Los Espartales, which is a stone’s throw from the entrance. Just remember that if you are travelling with a Zone A transport card, you’ll need different tickets for the Cercanias and Metro.

Matchday at the Coliseum

The Coliseum Alfonso Pérez is a relatively new stadium, having been opened in 1998, when Getafe were still in Segunda B.

It is named after former Spanish international forward Alfonso Pérez, most famous for his winning goal in the absolutely insane Spain v Yugoslavia Euro 2000 match, who is the most famous footballer from Getafe, even though he never did don the azulones shirt in a playing career which most famously took him to Real Betis (twice) and both Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The area around the ground is pleasant enough, plenty of bars and even a churros stand on the side streets for pre-match refreshment. A must-visit before the game is the Federacion de Peñas where they have a great collection of scarves, pennants and other memorabilia from notable games in the club’s history.

When you’re ready to head inside, make sure you leave plenty of time. There aren’t many entrances and the security checks can be quite slow, so you don’t want to get caught up in the rush immediately before kick off.

Once in your seat, you’ll find a compact ground which offers generally excellent views of the action. Just be aware that directly behind the goals there is a net (to save you from stray shots) and the front row of the upper tier has a railing, both of which do slightly affect the view if you are sitting there.

On my two visits I’ve found it to be especially conducive to photography and have taken some of my best match action shots of the season here.

José Bordalás – Miracle Worker

The Bordalás mask – essential for any Getafe fan

When José Bordalás took over Getafe near the beginning of the 2016/17 season they were in a bad way. They had been relegated at the end of the previous season and were struggling badly with the adjustment to playing in the Segunda again.

For Bordalás, it had been a strange few months. First he’d had the joy of leading Alavés back to La Liga after ten years in the lower leagues in his first season at the club. Despite that, he was sacked at the end of the season.

But at Getafe, he found a club which was a perfect fit for him and the results were striking. By the end of the season, he had lifted a group of players who had been in the relegation zone when he took over into the play-offs where they beat Huesca and Tenerife to clinch promotion back to La Liga at the first attempt.

Back in the top flight, they finished a highly impressive eighth last season and have continued to build on that this campaign.

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Celebrations after Jorge Molina scored against Rayo

Captain Jorge Molina might be 36, but he’s playing some of the best football of his career. Jaime Mata, after a couple of months of adjustment, is showing the form that made him the top scorer in last season’s Segunda, David Soría has been faultless between the posts since joining from Sevilla. The central defensive duo of Leandro Cabrera and Djené Dakonam are a nightmare for any centre forward to deal with, while no winger would want to come up against the hard as nails pairing of Damián Suárez and Vitorino Antunes, for whom hard tackles and overlapping are second nature. There’s even mid-2000’s Premier League throwback and renewable energy pioneer Mathieu Flamini rolling back the years in midfield!

There are many individual success stories, but it’s in shaping them into a team that Bordalás has excelled. They are an extremely cohesive unit and while the football won’t please the tiki taka purists, it is extremely effective and dare I say it, fun to watch. It’s not all long balls and set pieces like a throwback to the Crazy Gang, Molina and Mata are both over 6ft but are in no way one-dimensional targetmen.

The Rivals

Getafe players celebrate a goal against Leganés in El Derbi Histórico

Getafe’s traditional rivalry is with Leganés, whose ground lies a mere three miles away from the Coliseum. This rivalry is unique in having been played out at all levels of Spanish professional football and you can read more about it here.

However this season has seen the emergence of a new rivalry with an unexpected opponent. A number of heated clashes have seen an emnity develop between Getafe and Valencia and things reached boiling point over two legs of a heated Copa del Rey tie in January of this year.

Prior to the game, Valencia manager Marcelino complained about Getafe’s style of play. “They play on the limit of the rules” he claimed, so inevitably this provoked a reaction when the teams met. The Getafe fans chanted “Cry Baby” at him during the game and one of the Geta coaches celebrated their winning goal by making a crying gesture in his direction.

Then in an equally fraught second leg, Getafe led, were controversially reduced to ten men then eventually conceded an injury time winner. There were angry scenes at full time and the Valencia press took a typically poor view of Getafe’s behaviour over the two legs. One paper even posed the question “Where is Getafe?” in an editorial, comparing it to a Wild West town. Now the two teams could be fighting it out for that last Champions League place…

The Impossible Dream

Can they go where no Getafe team has been before and reach the Champions League? It’s hard to say, there are a lot of clubs in contention, all of whom with much greater resources than Getafe.

As a neutral, it’s hard to deny that the idea of Manchester United, Juventus or PSG lining up at the Coliseum next season would be amazing and great for football in general, showing that spending money isn’t the only way to success.

So with the race for Europe likely to go down to the wire, there are going to be some huge matches at the Coliseum before the season is out. If you can, definitely try to head down to Getafe, you might get to witness history in the making!

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