Greetings from Madrid!
September has brought about a lot of changes here in Madrid. We’ve seen lots of places reopening after the long summer holidays and paradoxically parts of the city are going back into confinement because of a spike in Corona Virus cases.
Autumn is here, football is back, I’m back working again but there’s an air of uneasiness hanging over the city.
Where I’ve Been
After getting to do a little bit of travelling at the end of July and beginning of August, September was another month spent entirely within the Communidad de Madrid.
I was able to travel twice for football, exploring the further reaches of the Cercanias network by visiting Móstoles and Pinto when it was announced they were allowing fans into the grounds there.
Pinto was nice enough for a Saturday morning walk before and after the game, though not the most exciting place to visit.
With some areas of Madrid entering a partial lockdown again, travel is largely being discouraged so aside from commuting to work and a couple of errands in the city centre, it’s not been the most interesting month for getting about!
Most Popular Post 💻
Understandably enough, I’ve been focusing a lot on the return of football this month. The Communidad de Madrid released guidelines in early September which paved the way for fans to return to stadiums under certain conditions.
I managed to get along to the first match with fans back in down in Móstoles and detailed the experience in Watching Football in the “New Normality” which ended up as the month’s number one!
Game of the Month ⚽️
At last I can finally talk about matches I’ve been at in person again.
I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so excited to go to pre-season friendlies – usually they’re just there, something to entertain during the summer and the chance to visit a couple of new grounds (and my annual trip for ice cream before Portstewart v Coleraine). But this year, starved of football since March, they’ve taken on an entirely new significance.
Of the two I’ve seen, I think Móstoles CF 1-3 Santa Ana was the better game, probably because it was the first one – it could have been a dire 0-0 and I would have still been buzzing to be back in a stadium again.
It would be remiss of me not to mention Coleraine’s heroic performance against Motherwell in the Europa League qualifiers. 2-0 down at half time, they produced a brilliant performance to level the scores through two Ben Doherty penalties and take the match to a penalty shootout, where unfortunately three great saves from the Scottish club’s Northern Ireland international goalkeeper Trevor Carson brought their great European run to an end.
Kit of the Month 👕
With football kicking off again around the world, I’ve been exposed to plenty of new kits these last few weeks.
Some have been great, some have been boring, some have been so unbelievably strange that I can’t quite process them – Man Utd’s zebra/dazzle camouflage shirt – I’m looking at you!
But among the great ones, I have to say that Real Betis’ new home shirt hits the spot. A beautiful classic Kappa design – and even better – available in adult sizes without the betting company sponsor!
The less said about the purple away kit the better though…
Also, I had the opportunity to guest on brilliant kit blog Sartorial Soccer again recently, sharing the story behind Recreativo de Huelva’s throwback orange and maroon away kit. Check it out and take some time to read the archives – it’s one of my favourite blogs out there.
Book of the Month 📚
One of the benefits of having a commute to work again is that it has actually allowed me to step up my reading!
After spending the early part of the summer indulging in Italia 90 nostalgia by listening to the Vincerà! podcast daily, I picked up World In Motion, written by one of the podcast’s regular guests, Simon Hart.
As with the podcast, it was the lesser known stories that I really enjoyed. Everyone knows about Gazza’s tears, West Germany’s last hurrah, Cameroon, Argentina, led by Maradona on one leg, using all the dark arts at their disposal to reach the final and so on. But Italia 90 was incredibly important for the USA in achieving some kind of respectability four years ahead of their turn as hosts, the lesser-known underdogs of Egypt and the UAE, and it would be the last time we saw the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia on the world stage. The story of the latter nation is perhaps one of European football’s greatest what-ifs, given the tragic circumstances of the break-up of the country in the following years.
Then I moved on to ¡Golazo! A History of Latin American Football by Andrés Campomar, one of my Kindle bargains of the year – only £3.99!
It covers a lot of the same ground as one of my favourite books from last year, Jonathan Wilson’s Angels With Dirty Faces in the Argentina sections, but obviously takes a wider look at the continent with particular emphasis on Uruguay and Brazil as well.
Food Glorious Food! 🥘
For some reason I forgot to include it in August’s Monthly Musings after my first visit there in July, but after a return visit to Le Coq on Calle Príncipe de Vergara at the start of the month, I was sure I wouldn’t forget this time.
As the name suggests, Le Coq specialises in roast chicken. We’ve frequently ordered from them over the last year – their full chickens are a great source of sandwich meat for 2/3 days – but the restaurant experience is just as good!
Their menu allows you to choose half a roast chicken, with your choice of seasoning (I chose chipotle, Sarah went for cajun) plus two sides. Because eating out is a rare occurrence these days we went all-in and got a starter of Tequeños and a cookie sundae for dessert too!
One Year! 🤵🏻 👰🏻
Sarah and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary on 21st September.
I think it’s fair to say that the first year of marriage hasn’t exactly gone 100% the way we would have liked. We’re still waiting to have our proper honeymoon as international travel was pretty much ruled out in the summer and we’ve spent far too much time looking at the very yellow walls of our flat, but we have each other and a place to live, so you do have to count your blessings where possible!
At least we were able to head out to celebrate, going to nearby Indian restaurant Sal y Chili for a great meal. Though in a reflection of the times we live in, we were the only people in the restaurant aside from one guy who popped in for a takeaway order.
What’s Up Next?
All being well, we’re close to the return of competitive football in Madrid.
Primera Iberdrola, the top flight of Fútbol Femenino, is due to resume on 3rd October, with the highlight of the first weekend being Real Madrid v Barcelona. Meanwhile, Segunda B and Tercera are scheduled to start on 18th October. Travelling restrictions may well affect which grounds I’m able to go to – and of course, the criteria under which fans are allowed to attend games is being revised on a regular basis.
As I mentioned earlier, some areas of Madrid have been put back into partial lockdown, with people allowed to leave their areas to work and not much else. At the minute our area hasn’t come under any restrictions and I hope it stays that way. It’s taken so long to get a little bit of normality back and losing it again would be a serious setback.
Until next time,
All the best,