2020 in New Grounds

Welcome to the first of my year-end round up posts.

With football taking a break in Spain over the Christmas period, I’ve decided to just start off with a round-up of all the new grounds I’ve visited over the past 12 months.

It’s not quite the scale I imagined it would be – I’ve not been to a single match outside the Communidad de Madrid this year – but there’s a nice mix of stadiums in here. Hopefully next year can see me broaden my horizons a bit again!

🗓 January

I got off to a good start with two new grounds in the first month of the year. I also saw my only La Liga game of 2020 (a big win for Getafe in the South Madrid Derby) and enjoyed a brilliant Día Del Fútbol Modesto.

1️⃣ Centro Deportivo Wanda, Alcalá de Henares

Atlético Madrid opened a new stadium for their multi-title winning women’s side in the autumn of 2019 and it had been on the list for a visit in before the end of the year only to just miss out because of a scheduling confict.

So I wasted no time in getting out to Alcalá de Henares for their first fixture of the new year against Sporting Huelva.

I was hugely impressed by the ground, with its modern design and facilities and there was a decent crowd and atmosphere too – a sizeable portion of them seemed to be Venezuelans eagerly waiting for Deyna Castellanos to make her debut from the bench. Her eventual entry got the biggest cheer of the day, even more so than Atlético’s winner.

Would I go back? I’d love to but unfortunately Primera Iberdrola matches are, like La Liga and Segunda fixtures, being played behind closed doors as a result of the pandemic. Given that I am covering the Spanish women’s league for Football España, I have been able to get to a few games elsewhere in a professional capacity (more on that later) but not any Atlético ones yet. Hopefully in 2021!

2️⃣ Estadio Antonio Sanfiz, Aravaca

The second part of Día Del Fútbol Modesto 4 took me out to Aravaca and the Estadio Antonio Sanfiz, home of Aravaca CF and site of one of my most enjoyable games of the year.

The home side suffered a 3-2 defeat but I was charmed by the ground, its small, extremely rustic bar, the sunset (common as Aravaca usually kick off late on Sunday afternoons) and of course, the giant puddle on the pitch which meant next to no football was played in front of the stand.

Would I go back? Definitely! Teams who regularly play on Sunday afternoons are in short supply in Madrid and it’s close enough to the city to make regular visits possible.

🗓 February

February was my most productive month of the year, with three new grounds visited.

3️⃣ Anexo de Santo Domingo, Alcorcón

Having just watched Depor secure a last-gasp victory against Alcorcón’s first team in the early kick off, I hung around for a few hours to see the B team and Unión Adarve play out an absorbing 1-1 draw at the Anexo, which is helpfully just next door to the main stadium.

It’s great for pitchside photos but that apart, it’s not a terribly interesting venue.

Would I go back? Being brutally honest, probably not. It’s just a pitch stuck beside the main stadium and there really aren’t great facilities for watching a game there. By far the dullest and most disappointing of the B team stadiums I’ve visited.

4️⃣ Estadio La Canaleja, Alcorcón

La Canaleja is the home of Trival Valderas and forms part of a large multi-sport complex outside Alcorcón. Clearly I hadn’t had enough of that particular satellite city as I was back there just a week after my experience at the Santo Domingo complex.

On this occasion the game wasn’t quite as memorable as the home side ground out a 1-0 win over an in-form RSD Alcalá, but there was plenty of colour and noise provided by both sets of fans.

I had a great pitchside viewing experience, although typically the only goal was scored at the far end of the ground. At least I was close to the bar, which is packed with memorabilia and is one of the nicest I’ve seen at this level of football.

Would I Go Back? I certainly would love to, but at the minute all games here are puerta cerrada so sadly I haven’t been able to make a return visit since football returned. Maybe in 2021!

5️⃣ Estadio Santiago Del Pino, San Fernando de Henares

The Estadio Santiago Del Pino is home to CD San Fernando de Henares, a team I’d seen as the away side on a few occasions but it took until February for me to get out there.

It has a sizeable stand and a decent bar by the entrance though unfortunately you’re quite far from the action due to the athletics track. My main memory of the game there is the San Fernando manager being sent from the touchline and ending up behind me in the stand – and he was not at all happy when Adarve scored a late equaliser.

Also, the low-flying planes overhead give it a similar vibe to The Oval in East Belfast.

Would I Go Back? Yeah, I probably will eventually. San Fernando’s games are being played with limited numbers of fans but it’s just not the most convenient place to get to on a Sunday morning.

🗓 March

Things got off to such a great start with a visit to the wonderful Mariano González in Navalcarnero before Spain was plunged into lockdown and all football was cancelled

6️⃣ Municipal Mariano Gonzalez, Navalcarnero

Navalcarnero was for such a long time the last football ground I had visited but at least it was one I had good memories of!

I loved the brickwork exterior of the stadium, the towers in the stand and the small but vocal home support ensured there was a good atmosphere too, even though they didn’t have much to cheer about in a dismal 1-0 defeat.

The bar is great too – they served one of the best bocatas de chorizo frito I’ve ever had there!

Would I go back? I’d love to go back not only to see another game but also to hopefully see the town on a better day as not only was it very overcast, but the centre was pretty much dead apart from a few bustling terraces in the main square.

🗓 April, May, June, July, August

Erm…

It’s fairly obvious that I don’t have much to say about these few months. Didn’t even get a chance to visit a new ground on my summer holiday – Leixoes’ Estádio do Mar in Matosinhos was just too far out of the way for me to fit in a quick visit.

🗓 September

And we’re back! Not back to normal obviously, but at least September saw football with fans return to Madrid at long last and I was able to fit in two new grounds thanks to some early pre-season games.

7️⃣ Estadio Municipal El Soto, Móstoles

Long ago, I had pencilled in Móstoles as my ground for the last day of the 2019/20 season, where I would achieve the mythical feat of completing the Madrid Tercera.

It wasn’t to be though and when I finally made it down here, it was a pre-season friendly and actually the first game in the Communidad de Madrid where fans were allowed back in.

It was worth the wait though as El Soto quickly became one of my favourite grounds in the region. It’s large open terraces, the blue and white seats, but mostly the trophy cabinet in the middle of one of the seated areas.

Would I Go Back? I’ve already gone back once, to see the ill-fated Móstoles CF-Villaverde game in November which was abandoned at half time. I’d quite like to see the other Móstoles here soon to see if the bar will actually be open when they play!

8️⃣ Estadio Amelia Del Castillo, Pinto

Another pre-season friendly, this time kicking off at the wonderfully early time of 9:30am, saw me making the trip south to Pinto.

This was another one I’d been close to visiting previously, last December I was on the way there when an accident on the Madrid Cercanias network forced a change of plan.

The game I saw, a pre-season friendly between Pinto and CD Coslada was a strange one, very little happened but I still saw four goals – one of which was a superb free kick. The ground was well set-out with seats cordoned off to help social distancing and the bar was open too!

Would I go back? I’m sure I will, despite the distance from my flat. I did decide against going to the Villaverde away game there recently partly because I didn’t fancy a long journey, but also partly because I’d like my next visit to be once a little more normality has returned.

🗓 October

October was slightly frustrating thanks to second waves and local lockdowns which stopped many teams from being allowed to host fans and stopped me from leaving the city of Madrid to find a game on the opening weekend of the Tercera season. Thank goodness for Primera Iberdrola though!

9️⃣ Estadio Nuevo Matapiñonera, San Sebastián de los Reyes

Matapiñonera was a ground I’d planned to visit before the end of the 2019/20 season but it took until October for me to finally make it there and in a slightly different capacity to normal, through press accreditation to cover Madrid CFF games.

It’s a slightly odd ground, with one main stand and one end occupied by a block of flats (the ability to watch regular football through your window is a definite plus point for me) but it’s hard to get a feel for what it’s actually like on a matchday when the only other people in the crowd are journalists and the substitutes from the two teams.

It feels wrong that UD Sanse in Segunda B can host fans here while Madrid CFF cannot, but that’s down to the different leagues and their different protocol.

Would I go back? Given how easy it is to get there from my flat near Plaza de Castilla, I feel stupid for not having gone there sooner. Hopefully in 2021 I can experience a proper matchday here with fans present. It’s also handy if you want to go to Ikea after the game!

🗓 November

November was a busy month in Madrid with not one, but two long weekends at the start of it! It was also my busiest month of the new season for matches – five in total!

1️⃣0️⃣ Estadio Navalcarbón, Las Rozas

This was a last-minute pick, I was on my way to Chamartin intending to travel to Alcalá and try and get into Complutense’s game – with its limited capacity of 196 – so the ability to buy a ticket online for this one swung me.

I really liked it too. There’s a nice walk through a forest to get there from the Cercanias station at Pinar. The blue athletics track, for some reason, doesn’t bother me as much as traditionally coloured ones do. And it’s the only new ground I’ve been at this season where both bar and shop have been fully operational. I was able to pick up an extremely high-quality scarf for the collection and enjoy a bocata de tortilla at half time. The game was pretty good too, even though the draw wasn’t much use to either Las Rozas or their opponents Poblense, and was part of a run of results which would see Real Madrid and Spain legend Ivan Helguera relieved of his duties after only a few months in charge.

Would I go back? The €20 ticket price is a bit steep for Segunda B, but given that they sell tickets online, it’s a useful option to have in the event of there not being other closer games. With Las Rozas likely to draw a La Liga club in the next round of the Copa Del Rey, I may end up making a very early return visit in January!

1️⃣1️⃣ Estadio Los Prados, Parla

Parla was one of my revelations of the year.

The wonderful mixture of a small stand and old-school terracing, the slightly faded athletics track that encircles the pitch, overgrown grass everywhere, a random tree in one corner – it’s a perfect fútbol modesto ground!

It also has a bar with a terrace as you go in, with a small room packed full of newspaper clippings and old team photos – several of which feature a young Rafa Benitez, who spent a significant part of his playing career at the club

It was also the scene of one of the best games I’ve seen all year too, with the home side coming from a goal down to defeat El Álamo with a late winner, which was celebrated with a classic pile-on.

Would I go back? Easy answer to this one. Yes! Ok, it’s not the closest ground but it’s a nice place for a morning out.

🗓 December

In December I reached a big personal milestone by logging my 100th ground on Futbology App but with the Spanish game winding down for the holidays, there weren’t many opportunities to add to my total.

1️⃣2️⃣ Campo de Fútbol Eustasio Casallo, Madrid

This one was supposed to be CD Barajas’ Campo Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, but their game was postponed less than 48 hours beforehand due to Covid-19.

I was keen to reach the 100 ground milestone on Futbology before the end of the year and this was probably my last chance as the 13th saw the final full round of Preferente and Regional fixtures for 2020.

I wanted to stay in Zone A of the Madrid transport network, so Los Yébenes, near Laguna on Metro Line 6, fitted the bill perfectly.

It’s a charming little ground, with people standing around the edge of the pitch or sitting on benches, but unfortunately something is lost with the bar area adjacent to the changing rooms being closed to the public. The Covid-19 protocol meant a limited attendance, but that didn’t stop plenty of people from watching through the fence!

Would I go back? I probably will, if only to get the full experience of a normal matchday there some day.

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