Everything you never knew you needed to know about Fuenlabrada (REDUX)

Last year I wrote about visiting Fuenlabrada when they were still aiming for promotion for Segunda B, it’s safe to say a lot has changed in the meantime…

So here I present the freshly updated Redux version of the post complete with all the information you need to enjoy a day out at the Fernando Torres.

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.

2017 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.

After many years of near-misses, the 2018/19 season was to prove Fuenla’s year to make their big leap forward. They topped the notoriously difficult Group 1 in Segunda B, featuring clubs from Madrid, Galicia, Asturias and Castilla y Leon to earn a spot in the Champions play-off against Recreativo de Huelva. The winner would gain automatic promotion to the Segunda and Fuenlabrada simply demolished Sapin’s oldest club, winning 3-0 at home before finishing the job with a 1-1 draw down in Andalucía. To top it all off, they went on to defeat Racing Santander in the Championship Final, ensuring they would be promoted to as Champions.

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 and sadly he never will, unless he makes a surprise u-turn on his recent retirement decision.

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Getting There

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.

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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.

Getting Tickets

While in the Segunda B, Fuenla rarely sold out, so turning up early on the day of the game was usually enough to ensure you got your seat, but in the Segunda things are slightly different. I’d advise you to check availability online and probably buy your ticket before heading down – it is a long way from the centre and I’d hate for anyone to end up disappointed.

There are three prices available. €15 to go behind the goals, €20 for the uncovered stand on the far side and finally €35 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 group can be found behind the goal (only one end is seated now) but there is also a group with megaphones in the covered stand. While in the Segunda B, it was pretty much unreserved seating but with their promotion things have got a lot stricter.

The capacity of the ground has been expanded as well, with larger temporary stands added behind the goal, along the side and underneath the main stand. The away section has attracted much comment, stretching high above the rest of the stand, leaving fans perched precariously as the watch the game. The stand certainly shakes when full, as I experienced when I attended the game against Rayo Vallecano in September.

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. If you’re there early enough, you might even catch the Fuenla supporters’ botellon before they march en masse to the ground.

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.

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The Mascot

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, at the beginning of the 2018/19 season, the teams ran out for the start of the game from under a giant inflatable replica of him. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to have survived the step up to the Segunda.

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A Surprising Success Story

Most people probably expected Fuenlabrada to struggle this season. After all, they are one of the smallest clubs in the league, rubbing shoulders with fallen giants of the Spanish game such as Deportivo La Coruña and Real Zaragoza.

However, they have defied all expectations on their Segunda debut, starting the season with three consecutive victories and as we enter December they have spent pretty much the whole season in the automatic promotion spots or the play-off places. Along the way, they’ve taken the notable scalps of Oviedo, Sporting, Zaragoza, Huesca and recently, runaway leaders Cádiz.

Their coach Mere has them extremely well drilled, last season they had the best defensive record in the Segunda B and this was the base which their promotion was built upon. They have carried this with them up to the Segunda and have ground out a lot of 1-0 and 2-0 victories so far (making the 2-2 draw I saw look like even more of an oddity). They have plenty of pace in the team and their strength at set pieces makes them very difficult opponents.

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!

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