Monthly Musings (November 2020)

Greetings from Madrid!

It’s 1st November, so that usually means it’s a public holiday here in Spain, but as it falls on a Sunday this year, it gets pushed back to Monday, meaning a nice extended weekend for everyone!

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing second wave of Covid-19, there’s not much to celebrate this year. Last year Sarah and I used this long weekend to visit Zaragoza, but in 2020 with the Communidad de Madrid having closed its borders for the next fortnight, our only plans involve staying at home and perhaps finding a free museum or something else to visit here in the city.

Where I’ve Been 🗺

Nowhere exciting really!

As I said in the introduction, as a result of the confinement orders placed on the city of Madrid, we weren’t allowed to travel anywhere. I did make it out to San Sebastián de Los Reyes a couple of times for Primera Iberdrola matches at the Estadio Matapiñonera, but as that’s a 25-minute bus ride away it hardly counts.

Aside from that I’ve just been in the city, making the most of some good autumnal weather to take long walks and discover some places I’ve never really been to before.

Statue in the University Area of Madrid

At the start of October, we also went back to Retiro for the first time in several months. The last time we were both there was actually prior to the first lockdown in March and although it was quite crowded, it was a really nice way to spend a Saturday evening.

Most Popular Post 💻

October was the month which saw the return of Primera Iberdrola, the top flight of women’s football in Spain return with a hugely significant fixture, the first ever official meeting between the women’s teams of Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Although restrictions meant I was unable to go to the game in person, I felt that it was an important enough game to cover on the blog. In When is a Clásico not a Clásico? I looked at the long path Real Madrid have taken towards having their own women’s team and the challenge they face in building a side capable of challenging a very much dominant Barcelona side.

The final score might have been 4-0 to Barcelona but it highlighted a huge gulf in class, one which may take some time to bridge.

If you enjoyed that post, don’t forget you can read my weekly Primera Iberdrola reviews over at Football España as I follow the progress of the season and see if anyone can stop Barcelona this season. Given that in four games so far they have scored 24 goals and conceded none, I think the answer to that might be “No”.

Game of the Month ⚽️

Things are still pretty slow in the actual in-person football front. This time last year I had already been to 23 games in five countries – so far this season it’s only five, all within the Madrid region.

My three games in October brought a grand total of three goals – not exactly a vintage month but when live football is at a premium, you can’t be fussy!

Of the three games, I probably enjoyed my morning at Villaverde the most, maybe more down to the company and the fact I was back at one of my favourite grounds again rather than the match itself. Maybe November will bring a few more goals!

Kit of the Month 👕

Photo: David Cavan/Coleraine FC

I couldn’t really choose anything else this month!

Coleraine launched their long-awaited new home and away kits early in October, with something of a departure from recent years in reviving the pinstriped kits if the 1960’s, which then inspired a couple of cult favourite designs from the mid-1990’s.

I loved both kits Avec produced for the Bannsiders last season but these are on a whole different level entirely. All being well I will soon have one of each to wear on my regular morning runs in Madrid!

Book of the Month 📚

The secretive world of the German Democratic Republic (or East Germany as it is better known) has always been a source of fascination for me. Even more so since I visited Berlin on my summer holiday a few years ago and got an up close look at the world behind the Iron Curtain.

The chapter in Uli Hesse’s Tor which concerned the DDR Oberliga further intrigued me about the footballing history of the former state and how many of the clubs have sunk almost without a trace since reunification.

So at last, I’m the shape of Michael Wagg’s The Turning Season, we have an in-depth look at football in the former East Germany. Taking a look at each of the clubs who made up the Oberliga in the 1989/90 season – the year the Berlin Wall came down and signalled the death knell of the East as a separate country, Wagg finds clubs that once rubbed shoulders with such European giants as Ajax, Barcelona, Benfica, Coleraine and AC Milan amongst others are now playing in the regionalised lower leagues in front of handfuls of fans.

Ok, so I slipped Coleraine in there as a bit of a joke – our European adventures this summer don’t quite qualify us for giant status just yet – but it was fun to discover that fans of one of our former opponents, Stahl Brandenburg, still sing about their 1986/87 UEFA Cup run which included a tie against the Bannsiders.

What’s Up Next?

We’re well into Autumn now, days are getting colder and the nights are getting longer – sitting outside during my six o’clock break at work is now sadly impossible.

No more afternoons on the terrace!

I think the most frequently asked question I’ve had in the last few weeks is “Will you be going home for Christmas?” and alas the answer is no. Sarah and I just feel that it’s not really worth the risk this year, which breaks my heart to say.

We’ve weighed up everything and with a quarantine order still in place for people travelling from Spain to the UK, we’d have to isolate ourselves for the entire holiday anyway and there’s always the risk of getting stuck there if the situation at either end worsens significantly.

But that’s looking quite far ahead, we still have the whole of this month to deal with before we can talk about Christmas.

Hopefully football is still on the agenda for me this month, all being well I will be heading off to a Sunday morning Tercera game after I hit “Publish” on this, but with limited capacities and closed doors games all over the place, options are limited. Lower leagues are due to start later in the month which might help with that.

Things in Spain aren’t looking great but we’re staying strong and putting a brave face on it. We’re grateful that we have each other to rely on and that we’re not apart or alone in these difficult times.

Until next time,

All the best,

Andrew

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