A long weekend in the south of Spain/Gibraltar for my legal wedding ceremony. Naturally this meant the perfect opportunity to take in two games in the shadow of the Rock of Gibraltar, one on each side of the border!
Finding a game to attend in Gibraltar was more complicated than you’d think. Firstly, fixtures for the Gibraltar National League weren’t published until right before the season was due to start. Then three of the teams from the 16-team top division dropped out of the league before the big kick off and some hasty rescheduling meant that the second round of matches would be finished before I even arrived in Gibraltar.
Thank goodness then for the Gibraltar Intermediate League, effectively a reserve league but also incorporating FC Hound Dogs, who previously played in the Second Division but were given special dispensation to compete alongside other clubs’ second strings this season. There was a match on as I landed at Gibraltar Airport on Wednesday evening but it was another 24 hours before I got my chance, with the aforementioned Hound Dogs taking on College 1975’s Intermediate side.
Entry to the Victoria Stadium was free so I wandered in through the open gates just as the game kicked off. The crowd wasn’t big, but more people filtered in through the match, many seemingly coming straight from their own training sessions on the other pitches around the stadium.
The game itself, while not exactly high on quality, was certainly incident-packed. College 1975 took the lead before the break with a goal from an extreme angle, which went in off the post for extra aesthetic value. Hound Dogs levelled in the second half but then looked to have shot themselves in the foot as after a good save from the goalkeeper, the ball rebounded straight to a defender and bounced off his shins and into the net.
But they got the point they probably deserved on balance of play with a goal two minutes later from substitute De Ath, who provided the killer touch (sorry!) to level the scores.
Match Cost: Free! 💷
Match Rating: 7/10
Sunday brought me back to the familiar surroundings of Segunda B Group IV, which was my regular source of football for the two and a half seasons I lived in Huelva.
Linense and UCAM were both teams I’d seen take on Recre back in the day so it was good to see some familiar teams again in my first Spanish game of the season.
The Estadio Municipal is in a stunning location. In fact, the view of the Rock is probably even nicer than from the Victoria Stadium due to a little extra distance.
The first half was mostly a struggle to stay cool in the early evening sun which was beating down on the stone benches on the far side of the ground where I was sitting. Lots of water was consumed.
Linense took a deserved lead midway through the first half, Tomás Sánchez finding a gap for his shot and clipping it in off the post for what would prove to be the only goal of the game.
Thankfully as the game wore on, the intense sunlight gave way to a beautiful sunset. The home fans were extremely loud, helping to cheer their team over the line to an important victory.
I got a sense of how much Linense really mattered to the community and on the way out I even heard some English as the local guiri army took down their banners.
Match Cost: €10 💶
Match Rating: 6/10