Monthly Musings (August 2020)

Greetings from Porto. 🇵🇹

Wait… that’s different!

In two years of Monthly Musings, I’ve never previously started one from a country other than Spain or the UK, so it’s nice to break some new ground here.

Sarah and I are here on a short holiday (further details of which I shall discuss later on) to take a break from the oppressive heat of Madrid in summer.

Where I’ve Been

It’s nice to finally be able to say something other than just “places around Madrid” again!

Right at the start of July, we were able to take a day trip to Guadalajara, our first trip out of the Communidad de Madrid since 29th February!

In terms of a day out, it was nice even though pretty much everywhere in the city was closed for most of the day.

I’m sure I’ll be making a return visit next season to see Deportivo Guadalajara who unfortunately have just missed out on promotion to Segunda B in the end of season play-offs.

Then last week, we took a trip south to visit Aranjuez. For me it was my first time, but Sarah was going back ten years after a quick visit on her final day of her study abroad semester. Most of our day was spent in and around the royal palace and its gardens, which are undoubtedly the town’s main attraction.

We also had a great Menu del Día in a restaurant by the river and explored the town centre before the 38° heat got too much for us and we headed back home.

I’ll also be planning a return visit next season to see Real Aranjuez, who are going to be playing in the Madrid Tercera. 

Most Popular Post

First things first, it has been a record-breaking month for the site! I’ve had more unique visitors and more clicks than at any time since March 2016. So thanks to everyone who has visited in July! Things are going quite well considering I thought this site’s viability depended on a regular stream of live football matches to keep interest going.

So anyway, the most-read post this month was one from the archives. Presumably the on-going redevelopment at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu piqued a bit of interest in some people on my old post Touring the Bernabéu, originally published in April last year, where I looked at the museum and stadium tour experience at the home of Real Madrid. 

Also scoring highly was the post featuring my candid, personal thoughts on the situation at Depor – more on that below…

Spanish Football vs Andrew

The 19th and 20th of July were pretty rough days for me and the teams I’ve taken an interest in.

Sunday 19th saw Unión Adarve play their long-awaited promotion play-off semi-final against Alcorcón B, sadly without fans present – our initial hopes that we might be allowed back by then having been dashed.

At first things were going well, Adarve led through a goal from Capdevila at the break, but a quick fire double from Alcorcón turned the game on its head early in the second half. Pushing forward for an equaliser, Adarve were caught out and conceded a third in injury time. Another season in the Tercera it is.

While this was going on (that particular Sunday night was a nightmare to stay on top of everything) Leganés were facing Real Madrid with their survival in La Liga on the line.

Lega needed to beat the newly crowned champions and hope for a favour from Espanyol against Celta Vigo. That game finished 0-0 and Lega came so close to pulling off the great escape. Twice behind, they battled back to equalise and should have been given the chance to win it when Luka Jovic controlled the ball with his arm in the box, but the referee chose not to take another look using VAR. Considering what a nightmare their season had been, the fact they managed to take it down to the final seconds was quite an achievement in itself.

But that was nothing compared to Monday night, when Depor’s survival in the Segunda was at stake – except they didn’t even get to play their game as a number of players from opponents Fuenlabrada tested positive for Covid-19. The game was postponed but, with all notions of sporting integrity going out the window, La Liga allowed the other games which involved Depor and Fuenla’s direct rivals to go ahead.

I watched on with depressing inevitability as all the results that Depor needed to go in their favour obviously went against them and so, twenty years on from winning La Liga, they would be starting next season in the third tier.

Food, Glorious Food!

It’s just nice to have been able to resume something of my usual routine of going out to do some reading or writing in cafés over the last few weeks.

Not using public transport as much has meant that I’ve been visiting a lot more places within walking distance of my flat. One of those, which admittedly kind of stretches the definition of walking distance as it’s a good half hour away, is Rebel Café in Chamberí.

I remember going there for breakfast on a visit to the city a couple of years ago, but as I was living further south last year, it wasn’t really on my radar. I rediscovered it in the early post-lockdown days when I was taking advantage of actually being able to go for walks again to explore a bit outside my local area. Since it reopened, I’ve been calling in semi-regularly for coffee, a quiet space to read and occasionally, lunch. Their special spicy chicken and avocado sandwich is great, as is the pulled pork one. Oh and anywhere which serves Fritz Cola is ok with me!

Book of the Month 📚 

I’ve been making my way through a bit of a backlog of Kindle purchases from lockdown these past few weeks.

Of these, one of the books I’ve enjoyed the most is Mister by Rory Smith.

I’m a little bit behind the rest of the world on this one, saying as it was published in 2016 and was nominated for and won several awards back then, but I’m glad I finally caught up!

The book covers the stories of English coaches who, frustrated by the lack of opportunities at home, went abroad to spread their knowledge of the game. With English football locked in a conservative, isolationist mindset, these men and their ideas helped football in Europe develop and ultimately overtake that which was played in its birthplace. 

Some of the names such as Fred Pentland, an icon in the history of Athletic Club, and Jimmy Hogan, famous for his work in Hungary, were already familiar to me. Others such as Jack Greenwell, a key figure in the early days of FC Barcelona, were not. As a lover of the history of football, this sheds plenty of light on some periods previously unknown to me.

Kit Of The Month

As it’s now officially the summer (although in this weird year, football is never totally going to stop and the idea of a close season seems frankly ludicrous) there are new kits being released almost every day. Which is great! 

One my favourites so far is Atlético’s new home shirt, which combines thick red and white stripes with slightly wavy edges and a classy dark blue polo-shirt collar.

And while things aren’t looking great on the pitch for Depor at the minute, they’ll at least look great next season in a classy home shirt which pays tribute to the distinctive style of stripes worn in the mid-1990’s, specifically in the 1994/95 season when they finished second in La Liga and won the Copa Del Rey. Halcyon days indeed!

And with Depor not returning for quite a while and Leganés absent next season, Alavés are basically my La Liga team now… Just for the kits.

Of course, you can keep up with my thoughts on the kits released by teams in Madrid through my regularly updated Football Fashion Parade post.

What’s Up Next?

Well, we’re spending another day in Porto, before taking a bus up north to Galicia, where we’ll divide our time between Santiago de Compostela and A Coruña.

They’re all places we’ve been before but we’re looking forward to exploring them together for the first time and showing each other our old haunts.

Then once the trip is over we’ll be going back to Madrid for the rest of the month. Now, we hadn’t really planned for this to be the case, in a non-Covid-19 world, we would probably have been back in Northern Ireland for the whole month of August but that’s out of the question now.

I’m sure there’ll be a few teams starting up their pre-season preparations with competitive football due to resume in September/October but recent pronouncements from La Liga and RFEF make the idea of fans returning to matches seem as distant as ever.

We shall see…

Until next time,

All the best,

Andrew

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