My 2020 Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions. You either love them or hate them.

I do think it’s genuinely helpful to make them, but also believe that they have to be realistic. So you won’t catch me going vegan or signing up for a gym membership which will swiftly end up forgotten about. I’m a runner anyway, I hate gyms.

So here are my 2020 resolutions for the blog and football in general. It’s a big year for football, the Euros are on, there’s lots happening in Madrid as usual and most importantly, Coleraine have a cup final coming up!

Complete This List

In August last year I shared my personal list of five (actually six) grounds I wanted to visit this season.

Of those I’ve managed to visit the Victoria Stadium in Gibraltar and the Estadio Vicente Del Bosque here in Madrid (plus special bonus ground, La Línea’s Estadio Municipal) so that means I have three left.

Of these, CD Toledo would appear to be the easiest, I’m just waiting for the right time to take a day trip from Madrid and work that in.

Next Step – Getting Inside!

La Romareda in Zaragoza will be a little more complicated. I visited the city in November, but was unlucky with the La Liga kick off times lottery. A day trip with the sole purpose of seeing a game is possible, but it depends on the optimal combination of day, kick off and available buses. We shall see.

As for number five on the list, San Mamés, see below…

See Northern Ireland at Euro 2020

This is slightly beyond my control – all depends on those March play-offs, but the weird structure of the 2020 Euros has given me a tantalising glimpse of what might be.

I bought a ticket for the final group game in Bilbao when they went on pre-sale last summer and thanks to the draw, I now know that my game will be Spain v the winner of Northern Ireland’s play-off path.

Complete the Madrid Tercera

One of my favourite Tercera grounds – Villaverde’s Estadio Boetticher

Fairly self-explanatory this one. As of the end of 2019, I have visited ten of the 20 grounds in my local division of the Spanish fourth tier. So, preferably before the end of the 2019/20 season, I want to see the other ten.

This is likely to mean some seriously early starts as most of these are grounds outside Metro Zone A, so there could be a few long journeys on Metro/Cercanias/Bus to make it to 11:30am kick offs in the likes of El Álamo and Pozuelo. At least the wonderfully named Artístico Navalcarnero usually play in the afternoons…

Finish my Drafts

Not every trip turns into a great story. Sometimes I start writing, hoping an angle will come to me while I’m typing and it never does. Or sometimes it’s just a matter of time – some posts require more research, more editing and more revisions than others.

I have a significant number of posts sitting in my drafts folder which I know will never see the light of day. With some I just don’t like the idea any more or simply their time has passed (How many 2010’s retrospectives did I need?) and their chance at relevance has faded away.

There are still plenty that are salvageable – and I do hope to bring them to you this year. As well as lots of excellent new ideas of course!

Read More

Some of the books in my flat – no apologies for putting mine on top!

This always seems like a reasonable goal to set yourself at the beginning of a new year. While I do already read quite a lot, there’s always room for some more. I’ve come back to Spain for the new year complete with a selection of new and classic football books to get through – and that’s not even counting Kindle downloads (one-click ordering is an amazing yet terrible thing).

My reading list also goes way beyond football – as it should – I have numerous books on history and film as well as a few fiction titles that I want to get round to reading (or even re-reading) in 2020.

I love the words George R.R. Martin gives to Jojen Reed in A Dance With Dragons

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

Shame that never made it into the TV show really.

Just Enjoy Football (and don’t take it too seriously)

Legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once said that “Football isn’t a matter of life and death – it’s more important than that” – I’m pretty sure he was joking but unfortunately more and more people take this comment at face value and even use it as the guiding principle of their life.

The amount of nonsense surrounding football at the minute, from sportwashing, to raging about VAR to #SomebodyOut, can almost overshadow the fact that football is just 22 men kicking a ball about. It’s meant to be a bit of a laugh.

Fun and Games at Canillas

In early January I paid a visit to CD Canillas, playing in the Madrid Preferente, the fifth tier of Spanish football. It was a freezing cold morning, I knew none of the players on either team and yet I loved every minute of it. (And where else in the world would you find a bar with its own mini-shrine to José Mourinho?)

Still Special

Here’s to more days like that in 2020!