Villaverde’s Estadio Boetticher is a groundhopper’s dream.
A wonderfully rustic, old-school ground just a short journey from the centre of Madrid with a homely bar, a well-stocked kiosk and hosting one of the most likeable clubs in the city. Where do I sign up?
A Bit of Background
Chances are that unless you are already something of a Spanish lower-league aficionado, you will never have heard of SAD Villaverde San-Andrés before.
The club was created in 1988 out of a merger of Boetticher (founded 1948) and Villaverde (founded 1970) before the name change to the current title in 2017. There are still plenty of references to the old name around the ground (including on the match tickets!)
There are no great trophies in their history, no heroic underdog cup runs, indeed their current run of four seasons in the Tercera Division is the longest in the club’s existence.
But Botti (as the club is mostly known) is about far more than just the team on the pitch. In a world where some huge teams profess to be more than simply a football club, Villaverde San-Andrés is a true community club, representing the local area.
The most straightforward way to get there from the city centre is to take Metro Line 3 and head all the way down south to Villaverde Bajo-Cruce. It’s the third station from the end of the line and the journey from Sol will take about 20 minutes.
After you get off the train you will have a little bit of a walk, around about ten minutes, along Calle Cifuentes (you’ll recognise it by the multicoloured edifice of the La Nave cultural centre, which is situated close to the stadium.
Alternatively there is the local rail service, the Cercanias, which stops at nearby Puente Alcocer station. You will need to catch Line C5, which runs between Móstoles-El Soto and Fuenlabrada/Humanes, passing through Atocha station on the way. From Atocha, you’ll need to get on the train going in the direction of Fuenlabrada/Humanes and it’s just four stops.
There are also a number of buses which go right past the ground, with the number 18 from Plaza Mayor being your best bet if you’re in the city centre, though I’d honestly recommend travelling by Metro or train as much faster and more convenient means of getting there.
When you get to the ground, you’ll have to buy your ticket from a small window and then show it to the man on the gate to get in. Tickets cost €10, which is the standard price for Tercera in Madrid.
Once inside you’ll be greeted by the wonderful stone terraces of the old curva. Unfortunately no one really stands here during matches any more. Its distance from the action (and the bars) and a large net aimed at preventing balls being lost to the street behind probably contributing to this.
You can either head over to the small covered seating area in front of the bar or head over to the far side by the kiosk. Usually you should make your decision based on what way the sun is facing at a given point in the game as it may be too warm to stand out in the direct sunlight for the whole game.
If it’s not too warm, the spot by the kiosk is a great place to get a drink while watching the game (or buy your souvenir scarf) with the added bonus of fresh bocatas being made throughout the game.
Wherever you end up watching the match, you’ll have a great view of the action. Villaverde was the first Tercera ground I visited (back in December 2018) and it remains one of my favourites. It’s definitely one of the best grounds in the league for a social gathering, which we’ve had plenty of over the last couple of seasons!
Far removed from the glamour of the Santiago Bernabéu and the Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid’s smaller clubs have their own very passionate following. At Boetticher, the noise and colour is provided by the Bottis Verdes.
A small, but passionate group which follows the team to grounds all around Madrid and are surely one of the highlights of any Botti game as is the end of game tradition which sees the players, win, lose or draw, head over to the kiosk side of the ground to show their appreciation for the support they’ve received.
Unfortunately for Botti, things are looking grim on the pitch. After such a good season in 2018/19, their squad was picked apart over the summer and they weren’t able to replace them with similar quality.
Their poor start led to a change in management and the new manager brought in a lot of his own players, who didn’t perform significantly better and he was replaced in December.
When the season reached its midway point in January they sat bottom, with only ten points to their name and nine points adrift of safety.
When I went to visit as part of the fourth Día del Fútbol Modesto in January, it looked like it would be another hard luck story in a season which has been full of nothing else. Going into injury time, Botti had played reasonably well and looked set to pick up a point against Mostóles, not bad but not exactly much consolation when they hadn’t scored a single goal in their previous six home games and were on a winless run stretching back to September.
Then something magical happened…
After his teammates cleared a corner, Alex Áragon, the lone man left forward, chased what seemed to be a lost cause. But his pressure caused the defender to stumble, leaving him with a clear run on goal and al the time in the world to pick his spot and cooly slide the ball home. The entire home support (myself included) erupted. Áragon and his teammates sprinted to celebrate with the Bottis Verdes, a wonderful communion of players and fans who have been through the ringer this season, but have stayed united in spite of it all.
There have been a couple more decent results since then, including a win over play-off chasing Trival Valderas, but the gap at the bottom looked too great to surmount, which would have meant a return to the fifth tier, the Preferente, next season. Then Covid-19 intervened. The Tercera season was cut short by the pandemic, with the league positions after 8th March standing as the final table and the top four going into the play-offs in the summer. It was also decided that there would be promotion but no relegation, with the Madrid Tercera group for next season being split into North and South sections to account for the extra teams. Botti were thus saved, though not in the manner they would have liked to be.
So it will be another season in the fourth tier next season, but whatever league they play in, Botti will always be worth watching and their ground always worth a visit.