Monthly Musings (April 2020)

My lockdown face

Greetings from Madrid at a very strange time. We’ve been on lockdown since the middle of March and there’s no sign of it ending imminently. As a result this is a somewhat stripped back version of the usual Monthly Musings post – I don’t have an awful lot to share with you!

Where I’ve Been

It feels like a lifetime ago, but on 8th March, I went to a new part of the Communidad de Madrid, taking the bus from Principe Pio to Navalcarnero and ticking the Estadio Mariano Gonzalez off my list. And that was that.

After 14th March, a trip to the supermarket turned into the biggest adventure we could undertake. Limiting yourself like that is very difficult – at least back in the UK people are allowed out to do exercise once a day.

I’ve already taken a look at life under lockdown here, and thus don’t really have much more to add. It’s been a frustrating period, I have managed to get a bit more writing done and I’ve been able to do a lot more reading (see below) and catching up on some TV and films I’ve missed out on. 

But that urge to travel and explore just won’t go away. I’ll have to keep it in check for a bit longer.

The excitement of queuing to get into Lidl

Game of the Month

Pozuelo celebrations

Unfortunately this month I’ve been rather limited for choice. I only managed to make it to one game before all football in Spain shut down, so Artístico Navalcarnero 0-1 Pozuelo de Alarcón is possibly the most underwhelming game of the month I’ve ever picked.

I mean, the game wasn’t bad, but there wasn’t too much memorable about it, other than the fact it was an actual live football match, something we’ve been sorely lacking this month.

I did love visiting Navalcarnero though, it’s jumped straight to near the top of my list of favourite grounds in Spain and I’m sure I will go back there again once everything returns to normal.

Most Popular Post

March hasn’t exactly been the most normal month, but I was able to finally get a piece out about my favourite ground in Madrid – Villaverde’s Estadio Boetticher and it was by far the most popular post of the month. In fact, it’s been by far the most popular post of the year so far. The reaction to it has been fantastic and it’s good to see that in the midst of the current climate, people still want to read positive stories about great little football clubs like Botti – it’s top of my list for another visit once this all blows over.

With not much actual football to write about (as I said before, I only went to one game during March), I also tried my hand at writing about football that never actually took place. I’ve had plenty of nice comments about my post on the cancelled 2001 Club World Cup in Spain, which would have pitted SuperDepor, Galacticos-era Real Madrid and Carlos Bianchi’s Boca Juniors against each other for the title of best club side in the world.

I may have to come up with more football history-type articles in the next few weeks if the situation doesn’t improve.

Book of the Month

Happier Times: Reading on the Metro

I’ve had a lot of time for reading this month. Not being allowed to leave the house does that.

Before the lockdown started, I had already been reading Welcome to Hell? by John McManus, all about Turkish football, not one of my specialist subjects, so it was a goldmine of new information about the world of Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, Besiktas and all the others. It’s the fact that whole chapters are devoted to teams from cities outside Istanbul, which dominates so much of our understanding about Turkish football, that I really enjoyed along with the insights into the complicated political situation of Erdoğan’s Turkey. It has reignited a desire to travel to Turkey some day, combined with watching a few documentaries about the history of Byzantium/Constantinople/Istanbul. And I also realised I’ve been pronouncing Turkish footballer/club names wrong for most of my life.

I’ve also had a chance to re-read Uli Hesse’s Tor! A History of German Football, a classic which I’d read many years ago, but I was granted the opportunity to revisit it through its availability on Kindle Unlimited, which I took up a 30-day trial for near the start of the lockdown period. Its football selection is a bit hit-and-miss but there are plenty of other titles from my interests which will keep me going over this current crisis.

What’s Up Next?

Erm, more of the same really. 

Our lockdown in Madrid is not scheduled to end until after Easter, but if I’m totally honest I don’t think it will. The number of infections and deaths in Spain continues to rise, especially here in Madrid, and until there is a very real indication that the lockdown is playing its part in ‘flattening the curve’ I’d expect it to continue. I certainly don’t expect football to return to normal right away – there are far more important things to worry about. 

Just to put it out there – I firmly believe that this season needs to be finished. Simply writing off seven months of football (as has been done in the non-league pyramid in England) and starting again in August seems ludicrous to me. These are clearly unique circumstances, but it’s hard to accept that all those games we’ve seen counted for nothing. Should next season have to be truncated in some way, then so be it – maintaining the integrity of competitions already in progress has to take precedence.

France’s Number One Fan in 1998

Meanwhile, I’ll just keep waiting for football and life to return to normal. I’ll be getting my football fix through various documentaries, match re-runs online and on TV and watching the remaining World Cup Official Films on Amazon Prime. Oh and the second season of Netflix’s Sunderland Till I Die launches today (1st April) – the first season released in December 2018 was great television and I’m sure this one will prove likewise.

Until next time,

All the best,

Andrew

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