Happy New Year!
It’s the first of January, the first day of a new year and also of a new decade, so what better way to start than with some Monthly Musings?
Where I’ve Been
In short, Madrid until the 22nd, a flight to Dublin, bus from Dublin Airport to Belfast and since then I’ve been spending the holidays in my home country.
The first part of the month was very busy, we had a nice long weekend early in December which I took advantage of to get to a couple of Tercera matches, but there was no time to get out of the city. I also made use of that weekend to get my Christmas shopping done and take my legally-required, one trip into the city centre to see it all lit up before avoiding it for the rest of the month as it gets too manic.
At home I’ve been a bit limited due to a heavy cold I picked up before I came back, but hopefully I’ll be able to go a couple more places before heading back to Spain on Saturday.
Game of the Month
After a few underwhelming lower league contests in Madrid, I had to head back home for some top quality football. While the 2-0 Boxing Day win over Ballymena United was extremely enjoyable, the one-sided nature of the contest prevented it from being a true classic.
But fast forward a couple of days and The Showgrounds provided one. Linfield arrived in town smarting from a 3-0 defeat in their own Boxing Day derby and initially looked like running away with the game, taking the lead through a long-range wonder strike, while Coleraine struggled to get a foothold in the game.
Everything changed after the break with Coleraine in the ascendency, pinning Linfield back and eventually grabbing a deserved equaliser through Aaron Canning. Both teams had chances to win it, but after Linfield had Ryan McGivern sent off, Coleraine had the better opportunities and really should have sealed the three points. Games like this one showcase the very best of the Irish League.
Most Popular Post
It was all about books this month! Clearly quite a few of you were looking for ideas for Christmas presents or just looking for something to read yourselves as Recommended Reading – Best Books for Christmas 2019, came out well on top and is still getting good traffic even after Christmas ended (perhaps it’s people looking for something to spend all that Christmas money on?) and has gone on to become the second most-popular post of the year! In case you’re wondering, number one was my 2018/19 in Review post from back in June.
Also proving very popular was my look back at the highlights of the decade gone by, from Pirlo at the San Siro to enduring a Champions League Final and everything in between.
In fact, last month was a record-breaking month for the blog, with both the largest number of hits and the most unique visitors in the site’s history (going back to March 2016) and I reached my set targets for hits and unique visitors for the year with plenty of time to spare. I’d like to thank everyone who has clicked, read or shared anything over the last month – I do this for fun, but it’s always great to know that other people enjoy this too.
Kit of the Month
— huelva24deportes (@huelva24deporte) December 14, 2019
Recreativo de Huelva are Spain’s oldest football club (and more importantly my old local team) so when they celebrated their 130th anniversary in the middle of last month, they did so in style with a beautiful, limited edition retro kit.
With an old-school lace-up collar, blocky numbers and no logos bar the club crest the players looked like they had stepped out of the early 1900’s, which is when Recre first adopted the greatest of all football colours, blue and white stripes, having previously worn white.
As much as I love the outfield kit, what really makes it is the fact that goalkeeper Nauzet Perez donned a flat cap with his all black goalkeeper kit as the players came out, though I believe he didn’t wear it throughout the game.
Recre also picked up an important three points with a 1-0 win – much needed after a difficult first half of the season.
Book of the Month (aka Shameless Plug of the Month)
I normally like to share with you all a book which I’ve enjoyed reading over the past month, but just this once, I want to share a book that I’ve helped to write!
A New History of Coleraine Football Club (1927-2018) is the culmination of something I started doing in 2011. I started writing the framework for it over the summer that year but life got in the way and it fell by the wayside and was more or less forgotten about as I moved to Spain. But a couple of years ago, Hunter McClelland approached me to ask if he could use that framework for his book and he was kind enough to give me a co-author credit. So a dream came true for me, albeit in a rather roundabout way this year.
At the minute the book is only available from the club, but hopefully they will become available online in the first few months of the new year.
Food, Glorious Food!
It wouldn’t be the Christmas season without the traditional Christmas dinner, which in my family we’ve always had on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day. So here’s the obligatory dinner photo just to prove how good it was.
And it wouldn’t be a trip home without at least one visit to the Ramore in Portrush – in this case the Harbour Bar as the main restaurant was too crowded – and the classic Chilli Chicken Penne Pasta, with a really large piece of garlic bread, followed up with the Strawboffee for dessert.
I’ve been stocking up on home comforts to take back to Madrid as well, it’ll be a long time until my next trip home…
What’s Up Next?
We’re back to Spain on Saturday, flying from Belfast to Málaga and staying a night on the Costa del Sol before heading back up to Madrid on a long bus ride. I’ll be back to work on Tuesday 7th after Reyes – though at time of writing that still seems a very long way away! I’ve already started planning my football watching for January, but I’m wary of going overboard because of January’s reputation as the longest, most financially punishing, month of the year.
I’ll keep you well-updated on what I do anyway.
Until next time,
All the best,