Monthly Musings (February 2021)

Greetings from Madrid!

January was an interesting month to say the least. Things started off pretty well but the arrival of Storm Filomena and several inches of snow quickly changed everything.

Where I’ve Been 🗺

I feel like a broken record at this point, this was another month where I didn’t leave Madrid. And this time I didn’t even venture outside transport zone A!

The post-Christmas expenditure crunch obviously played a part, as did the snow. I had been weighing up a trip to a new ground in El Álamo towards the end of the month, but decided to wait for better weather. Hopefully I don’t end up regretting that decision a couple of months down the line!

Most Popular Post 💻

The most-read post of January by quite some distance was my look at Madrid’s oldest ground – RCD Carabanchel’s home at La Mina.

Only the giants of Real Madrid and Atlético have a longer history in the city than Carabanchel and it was good to be able to share their story on the blog. I even learned a few things myself, including the fact that Mono Burgos briefly managed Cara before beginning his successful stint as Diego Simeone’s right-hand man.

Game of the Month ⚽️

And it was back to La Mina for my game of the month. My choices were limited this month given the number of games postponed but RCD Carabanchel 2-2 Real Aranjuez was a worthy winner for any month.

There was a bit of narrative before the game as Aranjuez had actually requested that the game be postponed as they were unable to train in the week leading up to it. Carabanchel turned down their request, as they were perfectly entitled to do – although it might not have been exactly in the spirit of fair play.

The visitors took an early lead, but Carabanchel soon turned the game around and pushed for more goals. But the longer the game stayed at 2-1, the more you felt Aranjuez would get at least one big chance to equalise – and so it proved. Carabanchel laid siege to the visitors goal in the final minutes, but just couldn’t find the winner. Great entertainment for €10 on a Sunday morning.

Snow! ❄️

The start of the month was dominated by cold weather and in particular, the heaviest snow to hit the city of Madrid in over 50 years.

Just to get this clear, I don’t really like snow. It looks pretty, but unless you live in a country that gets it on a regular basis, it causes chaos.

Despite the severe weather warning being common knowledge for weeks, the regional government in Madrid was spectacularly unprepared for what followed. Roads and footpaths became impassable, schools, universities and offices were closed, forcing many people to work from home. Supermarkets ran out of fresh meat, vegetables and other commodities as panic buying set in, and due to the roads being blocked, they were unable to replenish their stores. Rubbish sat piled high on street corners as the trucks couldn’t get through to collect it.

It’s only a minor concern compared to these things, but the snow also wiped out two whole weekends of football in the city, with the disruption extending into a third week for clubs below the Tercera.

Even some of the bigger clubs were caught out. Leganés were forced to move their Copa Del Rey tie with Sevilla to the Wanda Metropolitano and Rayo ended up playing Elche at the Ciudad de Fútbol in Las Rozas after both the Estadio de Vallecas and their training ground were declared unfit to host the game. In contrast, Artistico Navalcarnero called on volunteers to help them clear the pitch for their cup tie and not only did they get the game on, but they caused a famous upset by knocking out La Liga side Eibar.

Book of the Month 📚

With not much of an opportunity to get outside in the middle part of the month, I returned to my old habits from last year’s lockdown – lots and lots of reading. As ever the holidays saw me spend quite a lot of my Christmas money on new books (sadly all Kindle editions this year as I was unable to go home and nip down to Waterstones or Eason (RIP) on the main street in Coleraine. English books are a lot harder to source in Madrid – and much more expensive too!

In terms of football reading this month, I was looking forward to reading Golazza – The Football Italia Years by Jonathan Grade, who worked as a producer on the eponymous cult 1990’s show. Growing up in a house without Sky, I probably watched far more Serie A matches than any other and it’s unlikely I’d be as big a football fan as I am without it. Reading the book brought a lot of fond memories flooding back. Having said that, once I’d finished I was left wanting more. It’s very short (only 177 pages – I flew through it in less than two days) and the behind-the-scenes insights were more about editing highlights packages late at night than travelling around Italy eating ice cream with James Richardson and hanging out with Gazza. However, if you’re looking for a quick read, full of nostalgia for the days when Serie A ruled the world of football, then this will definitely do the job.

Then towards the end of the month I started reading Blue and Gold Passion, the English language history of Boca Juniors written by Daniel Williamson. Going to a match at La Bombonera some day is one of the top items on my football bucket list (there’s an idea for a post I should probably get working on!) and although I’ve only just started the book it has already stirred that desire to go to Buenos Aires in the very near future.

What’s Up Next?

We’re fast approaching the first anniversary of last year’s lockdown and it feels like the authorities in Spain are doing as much as they possibly can to avoid a repeat.

The latest set of restrictions announced for Madrid at the end of January brought the nightly curfew forward to 10pm, with businesses and restaurants having to close at 9 and they have also banned us from having guests in our homes. Other regions have even stricter regulations, with earlier curfews, perimeter lockdowns of whole cities and non-essential businesses closed.

February is going to test these restrictions to their limits.

Me? I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing, teaching, writing, watching The West Wing and taking in a football match or two every weekend for as long as I’m allowed to.

Until next time,

All the best,

Andrew

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