Monthly Musings (March 2021)

Greetings from Madrid!

The shortest month has been a largely uneventful one for me, as reflected in the relatively brief nature of this post (If you want a long read – check out my 5,000 word effort about supporting Depor over the last eight years, just published on Saturday.)

Anyway, on with the musings…

Where I’ve Been 🗺

Here goes the broken record again…

We spent another month entirely inside the city of Madrid, mostly by choice on this occasion. Sarah and I have both been busy on weekends and anyway, most of the towns in the Communidad de Madrid have been under perimetral lockdowns for most of the month.

At least restrictions have been lifted in a number of areas outside the city so next month, all being well, I might have some day-trips to report on, although we’re well aware that the places we want to go to will probably be swamped with our fellow city-dwellers.

I have at least managed to get to a few different parts of the city in search of football. I visited Esperanza in the north of the city and then Moscardó south of the river for the first time and made return visits to Villaverde and Canillas.

Most Popular Post 💻

Number one for February was my post looking back at my very first visit to the Estadio Riazor in November 2013 for Deportivo La Coruña vs Mallorca. It was fun to retrace my trip that day and think about how different my match day routine in A Coruña would eventually become – although a walk on the beach was almost always included.

It was definitely a nice nostalgia trip and along with the follow-up post, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Depor this month, which given their abysmal form of late is not really good for my health.

Also featuring strongly this month (and with a Depor connection as well) was my post from last year looking at the strange story of the proposed 2001 FIFA Club World Cup in Spain which was cancelled only weeks before it was due to kick off.

Game of the Month ⚽️

I’ve gone a bit off the beaten track for this month’s selection.

I didn’t have huge expectations for my visit to AD Esperanza on 21st February. But it ended up being one of the most entertaining games of the season so far. Admittedly most of the entertainment came from opponents CD Barajas losing it and having four players sent off on the way to a 3-1 defeat.

I’ll definitely be going back to Esperanza sometime before the end of the season, it’s a bit of a hidden gem up in the north of the city and has a great bar to boot!

Book of the Month 📚

On 1st February, I listened to the Outside Write podcast on my way to work and heard Chris interviewing Adam Bushby and Rob MacDonald about From the Jaws of Victory, a collection of essays about some of the great teams in football history who fell just short of ultimate glory, but nevertheless live on in the public imagination.

The authors are a who’s who of top football writing talent, including Barney Ronay, Patrick Barclay, Daniel Storey, Nicky Bandini and more besides, each telling the story of one team. If I had to pick out a favourite, it would probably be Rich Hall’s look at what might have happened if Yugoslavia hadn’t disintegrated in such a violent fashion and their supremely side had been able to compete in the international tournaments of the mid-1990’s.

If I was to nominate my own “nearly team” for a chapter I would go for the Deportivo La Coruña team of 1993/94, who famously missed out on the La Liga title in the final minute of the season when Miroslav Djukic missed a penalty which would have won it. Or closer to home, the ridiculously entertaining Coleraine team of 2009/10 who scored and conceded goals in almost equal volumes, reaching one domestic cup final, the semi-final of the other and somehow ending up seventh in the league after looking set to push for the title at the end of February.

Food, Glorious Food, 🥘

A change in my teaching schedule this month has unfortunately affected our attempts to work through as many of northern Madrid’s lunchtime menus as possible before the end of the year. Still, at least one of the last ones we had, at Royal Thai Cuzco, was one of the best.

Their menu is one of the best value I’ve had anywhere in the city, with starter, main course, dessert and drink all for €12,50. And the portions are absolutely huge too. Just looking at the pictures I’ve posted above is making me hungry, so I should probably move on…

My 35th Birthday 🎂

Goodness, I’m getting old…

To kick off the day, Sarah and I had brunch at Mazál Bagels, one of our favourite cafés in the city

Brunch courtesy of Mazál Bagels

Then later on in the day Sarah and I went to Pacífico Metro station to visit the Vestibulo de Pacífico which is the old entrance to the station which has been restored and now operates as part of the Madrid Metro’s Andén 0 network of historical spaces.

You get to go through a hidden door on the Line 1 platform and walk up the stairs (pictured below) where you get to watch a video and receive a short presentation about the history of the Madrid Metro and this station in particular. Entry is free but you have to book ahead.

But most importantly, Coleraine won their game against Warrenpoint to go second in the league. It’s not quite the same given that I can’t be there in person, and I’m not sure anything will ever top my birthday in 2009, when Coleraine beat Linfield at Windsor Park for the first time in almost nine years.

What’s Up Next?

March will of course see the first anniversary of the moment our lives changed and Spain went into full lockdown.

There has been talk of teachers in Madrid being given early access to the Covid-19 vaccine, but no one is really sure yet whether or not this applies to teachers in my line of work (private academies and such) or only to those in the state school system. The vaccination procedure in Spain has been frustratingly slow thusfar, but there are signs that it might be finally getting up to speed, with Atlético Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium being announced just recently as a hub. I’ll not lie, the idea of going back there to get the vaccination which will ultimately pave the way to allow fans back in stadiums again greatly excites me.

The end of the month will line up with the start of our Easter break, but I would imagine the now familiar protocol of the Communidad de Madrid closing its borders on the Friday evening that the school holidays begin will take effect once again. I’m not really bothered about not going anywhere, by making small sacrifices now, hopefully we’ll be able to travel again in the summer.

And by staying in Madrid, I should hopefully be able to see a lot of football!

Until next time,

All the best,

Andrew

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