On 5th March 2016 I got back from a long walk along the river to the Punto del Sebo in Huelva and sat down and wrote the very first post on this blog.
Why did I start it there and then? I’m not really sure. The idea of writing a blog had been in my head for a while, partly through visiting a few different locations for football the previous Autumn and now that I was settled in a new part of Spain with lots of exciting travel opportunities close at hand (I had trips to Málaga and Lisbon booked, while Euro 2016 was on the horizon) I probably just felt that if I didn’t do it then, I never would.
I was reasonably prolific during the first few months but during 2017 and the first part of 2018, my commitment wavered somewhat. Long gaps between posting were followed by frantic periods of playing catch-up and then extended silence again.
Summer 2018 was a bit of a watershed moment for both me and the blog. In my personal life I moved to Madrid at the start of September and perhaps inspired by this, I decided to make a proper effort to update this more regularly. A consistent and varied supply of football has definitely helped with that.
My first year in Madrid was mostly about big occasions at big grounds. I visited all the La Liga and Segunda clubs within a couple of months, saw the Madrid Derby at the Wanda, experienced the historic rivalry between Leganés and Getafe up close and ended the season at the Champions League Final. Oh and I got to meet the legendary Super Pepino at Leganés.
Year two saw me focusing less on the big leagues and starting to visit more lower league clubs. I bought a season ticket for Tercera side Unión Adarve and delved more into the wonderful world of Fútbol Modesto until the season was cut short in March last year. Then throughout the darkest days of the lockdown, writing this blog gave me a positive hobby to keep my mind active and stave off boredom.
So far, year three has just been about getting football wherever and whenever I can! With most grounds operating with restricted capacities or being closed to the public completely, picking my weekend game has become something of a challenge and government restrictions have made travelling outside Madrid pretty much impossible.
Hopefully before 2021 is out I can get back to the original description of being a football and travel blog. Better days are coming!
A Few Highlights
One of the main highlights came within a few months of starting the blog, watching Northern Ireland at Euro 2016 in France. Having literally waited my entire life to see my country at a major tournament, this was understandably a very special moment, especially since we beat Ukraine in a memorable game in Lyon and reached the last 16.
Another of my favourite trips of the last five years was going to Valencia around the May public holiday, when I just happened to be present for the game where Levante won promotion to La Liga and the scenes at full time, a spontaneous outpouring of joy, will always stay with me.
In 2018, I finally saw Coleraine win a trophy again, after 15 years of waiting. The 3-1 Irish Cup Final win over Cliftonville more than made up for the disappointment of missing out on the league title the week before and losing the previous year’s final – which I had also travelled home for – and surely ranks as one of the happiest days of my life.
Thankfully, the wait for the next trophy was much shorter, the NI League Cup arrived a year and a half later, but for that and some memorable European exploits last summer, I was limited to watching online from Madrid.
So what does the future hold?
Well, I’m going to keep writing that’s for sure!
Going to football and writing about it has been very important for my mental well-being over the last 12 months and even when I’ve not had anything current to write about, it has helped me diversify my content a little bit. Some of my most popular posts from last year were the ones where I reviewed the official films from every World Cup, rated the intros from BBC and ITVs Euros coverage or took a look at some of my favourite football shirts.
Away from the blog, I have recently started work on an exciting new project, which I hope to reveal to you all in good time. As I get further along with it, it will take up more of my free time, but I will still be able to post regularly. Monthly Musings and 2020/21 in Pictures will of course continue on a regular schedule, while I have plenty of drafts sitting waiting to be published!
So here’s to the next five years!