For once the La Liga fixture schedulers had been kind to me.
Deportivo La Coruña’s fixture at Alcorcón was scheduled for an early kick off at the Estadio Santo Domingo on Sunday 9th February. This meant that Unión Adarve’s visit to play the B Team on the same day would be played later on in the afternoon.
Sign me up!
Longer term readers may remember how I covered Alcorcón last season as they surprisingly climbed to the top of the Segunda and looked like they could become the latest small club to reach La Liga.
Then this happened…
After the win over Real Zaragoza on a rain-lashed, horrifically windy evening in November, Alcorcón only won four further games all season – one of which was a walkover against Reus who had been expelled from the league in January for financial reasons. I also didn’t go back there again for over a year, half fearful of what might happen to me if their fans learned of my role in their downfall, half put off by the prices they were charging for what were in effect dead rubbers.
But when the chance to see a revitalised Depor play came up, I couldn’t really stay away and it was a happy coincidence that on the same day I would be able to combine it with watching Unión Adarve at their B team stadium, thus getting closer to my stated aim of completing the Madrid Tercera this season.
So that’s the background all set up. Here’s how the day unfolded… (All timings are approximate)
10:30am First things first, coffee!
After that much needed caffeine boost, I caught the Cercanias to Atocha from a very foggy Chamartin station, enjoying my coffee along the way and when I got to Atocha, I had a stroke of luck, my train dropped me off on the platform next to the one the train to Alcorcón was leaving from. So no mad dash up the stairs and across the walkway to another platform. All I had to do was wait.
When the train arrived I spotted a few Depor fans getting on
Game One – Alcorcón v Deportivo La Coruña
11:20am: My train arrived at Las Retamas station, just a short 5 minute walk away from the Estadio Santo Domingo. The fog from the north of the city was still a major factor down in the southern suburbs as I could clearly see the floodlights turned on as the train pulled up at the platform.
11:30am: I was at the ground early enough to take a look around, although I was unable to get a photo with the Depor team bus, which was sadly parked away in an unreachable part of the car park.
I did take a walk past the ticket offices which were closed and displayed the dreaded “Entradas Agotadas” signs on the windows, much to the dismay of a few people who had turned up ticketless, hoping to buy one on the day. Later on, it would become clear that Alcorcón’s definition of a “sell-out” is somewhat different from the reality.
11:45am: Upon finding my seat in the upper part of the lateral stand, I was pleased to discover that I was almost totally surrounded by Depor fans. There wasn’t a yellow shirt in sight as the seats were filled with Galicians singing about the virtues of Fernando Vázquez, the recently returned manager of Depor.
The First Half
12pm: The game got underway and not much happened.
So little happened that I thought it was an interesting fact that the two sides were captained by goalkeepers, both with the same number and almost identical names, Dani Giménez for Depor and Dani Jiménez for Alcorcón.
I had been hoping that Depor might wear their lovely Galician flag/anthem-inspired third kit (which I wrote a gushing tribute to for Sartorial Soccer back in the summer) but alas the hooped kit was the one on display. Thankfully a couple of recent wins have dispelled the notion of it being a cursed kit, but it just didn’t really look like the Depor I knew playing.
Probably the most notable thing that happened was Fernando Vázquez getting booked. Needless to say, his appearance on the big screen brought another loud chorus of “FERNANDO VÁZQUEZ LOLOLOLOLO FERNANDO VÁZQUEZ” from the Depor fans.
They were in fine form, but the players weren’t. Attacking the end where the majority of their fans were located, Depor struggled to get out of their own half at times and barely threatened.
Surely things could only get better?
By this point it was also pretty obvious that the empty seats in the fondos were not just waiting for latecomers to fill them up. Those people I had seen around the ticket office earlier had every right to be annoyed.
12:45pm: I needed a bit of a snack after such an uninspiring first half so headed to the bar under the stand to join the queue for a slice of pizza freshly brought in from a nearby Domino’s. 🍕
Once again luck was on my side as I managed to secure the last slice going. It was a little bit cold, but it filled a hole ahead of the second half.
The Second Half
1pm: So the second half got underway and continued in much the same pattern as the first.
Depor were slightly better, in that they managed to actually get the ball into promising attacking positions, but still never looked like scoring. Nothing was clicking in the final third.
Meanwhile Alcorcón added to the 90’s Cult Hero element of their strike force by bringing Rui Costa on to partner Stoichkov.
One extremely irritating thing I noticed as the game wore on is how someone at Alcorcón decided that a good way to make up for the lack of actual atmosphere would be to pipe in a recording of the Icelandic “thunderclap” every time they won a corner or a free kick in a threatening position. This happened quite frequently as the game reached its conclusion but Dani Giménez was thankfully equal to everything thrown at him.
It was a slightly stressful watch though, every foul by a Depor player seemed to warrant an automatic yellow card and the seconds ticked away ever more slowly, especially as the men in blue and white dropped deeper and the yellow shirts buzzed around in front of them, probing and looking for a gap.
Just when I’d settled for a 0-0 draw (only my second of the season after Coleraine’s 0-0 at home to Institute all the way back in August) as a decent result for Depor, the game had one further twist.
Depor won a free kick in a promising position, Keko crossed it in and Mamadou Koné got his head on it. The whole section of the stand around me erupted! I hugged a couple of random Galicians I’d only just met. Koné was buried under a pile of his team mates and coaching staff members. Fernando Vázquez initially sprinted to join in but quickly turned back, remembering his earlier yellow card.
There was barely time for any further action, Alcorcón tried to get the ball into a dangerous position but the full time whistle cut that short and was greeted by a huge roar of approval from the stands. Seven wins in a row – this was probably the most fortuitous of them all but no one really seemed to care that much!
2pm: I needed a break after that!
I stayed behind a bit after full time to enjoy the atmosphere as the players came over to salute the fans and join in with the party atmosphere. Things could hardly have been more different from the first part of the season, where Depor won only two of their opening 21 games (oddly enough the first and the 21st) and looked nailed on to be relegated to Segunda B.
Now, although not totally clear of the scrap at the bottom, most of the fans around me were wondering if a run at the promotion play-offs was out of the question?
But after that finish, I was hungry. Thankfully Alcorcón has a couple of bars near the ground and after a quick look at a collection of football memorabilia in one, I went just around the corner to Cafeteria Las Robles which I made my base for the next couple of hours.
A nice cheap bocata, a caña, the Basque Derby on TV and plenty of Depor fans staying behind to celebrate the win, a perfect recipe for a good afternoon.
But as the clock approached four, it was time to have a quick coffee and head back up to the stadium for my second game of the day.
Game Two – Alcorcón B v Unión Adarve
4pm: Alcorcón play their B Team games on one of the two full-size pitches which flank the main stadium and it has to be said that the Anexo is not the most inspiring venue.
The main stadium looms large over its smaller sibling, which only boasts one small stand, with a slightly restricted view due to netting covering parts of it. Thankfully the weather was nice enough to enable me to stand pitchside in an uncovered area. I can’t imagine this would be a pleasant place to watch a game on a cold, wet day.
I did have one other grumble, the cost of the ticket. As an Adarve season ticket holder I was told that I would be allowed into away games for half price – but it turns out that Alcorcón hadn’t signed up to this agreement, so I had to pay the full €10. Standard for a Tercera game, but a little annoying nonetheless.
A decent crowd had gathered (in spite of the price) for a match which promised much. 2nd v 3rd. Vital points in the play-off push at stake, especially as Navalcarnero have such a commanding lead.
The First Half
4:10pm: Full marks for the slightly idiosyncratic kick off time, it reminds me of the days when on Grand National day, Irish League matches sometimes kicked off slightly late so that the race could be played over the speakers at half time.
This match started at a frantic pace which was maintained for almost the entire 90 minutes. Alcorcón started slightly better, as you might expect with home advantage and hit the front after 11 minutes, César Gomez’s shot taking a huge deflection off a defender to totally wrong-foot Guille in the Adarve goal.
The visitors slowly began to find their feet in the game and equalised just before the half hour, Quique rifling in a shot from the edge of the box.
4:55pm: Not much to report by this stage. If I’m honest, I was starting to feel the effects of my early start and was looking forward to getting back on a train up north. But first to see what the second half would bring…
The Second Half
5:10pm: The second half offered pretty much the same thing as the first, end-to-end action, but surprisingly no goals this time. Though not for want of trying.
Whereas the hosts had probably enjoyed the better of the first 45 minutes, Adarve seemed to edge it after the break, but make no mistake, these were two very evenly matched teams.
The game also developed a bit of a nasty streak the longer it went on, Alcorcón’s goalkeeper reacted to an Adarve player going down in the box, there were a couple of poor challenges, a bit of handbags, all the things you’d normally expect.
There were plenty of chances, Guille made a couple of diving saves to tip away efforts which looked destined to nestle in the top corner, while his opposite number literally stopped a certain goal but putting his face in the way of the ball. On another occasion Adarve were denied by two successive blocks on the goal line as they pushed for the second goal which just wouldn’t come.
6pm: With the final whistle blown and the players thanking the fans for their support, I was free to make my exit, heading through the sizeable sports complex and back towards Las Retamas station.
On the platform I had time to reflect on what I’d seen. I actually really like the Estadio Santo Domingo, though I can’t imagine myself ever going there more than once or twice a season, possibly due to distance or the price of tickets. This one was worth the €30 I paid for it though, more for the experience than the match itself, but that last-minute goal from Koné will almost certainly feature when I inevitably do my end of season awards round-up.
I actually enjoyed the Tercera game a lot more, though that could have been due to me still being on a bit of a high from how the first game finished. I somehow doubt I’ll be rushing back to the Anexo anytime soon though. It’s easily the least pleasant of the B Team grounds in the Tercera and now that I have it ticked off the list, that should be that.
As a day out though, this was a good one!