Monthly Musings (October 2021)

Greetings from Madrid!

It’s the start of October, Autumn is here and the football season is well and truly underway. September was a busy month with lots going on as I settled back into Madrid life and returned to a few old favourite grounds – along with one new one.

Where I’ve Been 🗺

Another month where I’ve been travelling, starting off September back home in Northern Ireland before returning to Madrid via Dublin on the 7th.

Our last few days were mostly spent with my family (and cats) so travel wasn’t a huge priority, but the first of September was a rare lovely day weather wise, so we made the most of it, driving round the coast for lunch in Portrush, before going on to Downhill, the beach below the famous landmark of Mussenden Temple.

Then on the 7th we had our big travel day, starting off with a train to Belfast, a bus to Dublin Airport, where our suitcases thankfully both came in under the allowed weight, followed by our flight to Spain. Compared to our experience flying back from Málaga last month, this was much more like the experience we were used to in the past, the airport was busy, the flight was almost full and we had to queue to get through passport control.

Once back in Madrid, we took advantage of our free time and free entry to a number of the capital’s museums to visit the Museo Arqueologico and the Thyssen-Bornemisza as well as taking a walk around Retiro. Since I started back to work, excursions have largely been limited to football, though we did go and see a friend performing in a play, something that would have been unthinkable even a year ago.

The city almost seems back to “normal” following a year and a half of pandemic restrictions.

Game of the Month ⚽️

I managed to pack in five games during a busy September in Madrid across five different grounds and featuring ten different teams – I’m half-tempted to see how long I can go without repeating a team or a ground this season.

Independiente celebrations at La Unión

Of these games, probably the most exciting was Independiente de Vallecas 3-2 Vallecas CF B, which had pretty much everything – great goals, a comeback, catastrophic mistakes and a tense finish with the result in the balance. All for an entrance price of zero.

Alas, the same couldn’t be said for my big Champions League night out at the Wanda Metropolitano which, at least on the pitch, was a massive damp squib. The atmosphere was great though, almost worth the ticket price on its own.

Most Popular Post 💻

The Northern Ireland 2004-2006 home shirt

Nostalgia won out this month! While I was at home I took the opportunity to go through my wardrobe and not only catalogue my entire scarf collection, but also photograph a few shirts for future “My Favourite Shirts” posts.

The first of these was my favourite Northern Ireland shirt, bought in 2004, most famous for being the shirt worn on 7th September 2005, when we shocked England at Windsor Park.

It also lived on as my “lucky” shirt for Northern Ireland home games at Windsor Park, until the crushing dullness of the Nigel Worthington era destroyed its magic powers.

Book of the Month 📚

I’ve been going through David Goldblatt’s The Age of Football for a couple of months now. I started it at the beginning of August, but put it on the back burner while I was home to concentrate on getting through a couple of physical books which I knew I wouldn’t have room to take back to Madrid.

It’s a sweeping portrait of the state of football across the world in the first two decades of the 21st century and provides a wealth of information about parts of the world that I really didn’t know too much about beforehand, finishing up with chapters on the scandals at FIFA and the fall of Sepp Blatter and the 2018 World Cup in Russia. It’s incredibly engaging and well-written although there are a couple of weird mistakes in it – confusing which parts of Ireland are represented by the IFA and the FAI and frequent references to the Europa League as the “Europa Cup” – but these didn’t impede my enjoyment of it.

A Month of Anniversaries 🤵🏻‍♂️👰🏻‍♀️

September is an important month as it sees Sarah and I celebrate our wedding anniversaries. Yes, anniversaries. Plural.

For any new readers, let me explain. We had two ceremonies back in 2019. One, our official wedding in Gibraltar, a private ceremony with just two witnesses and then three weeks later, a church service and celebration in Northern Ireland where some of our friends and families could attend.

In something of a reversal, we spent the Gibraltar anniversary in Northern Ireland this year and actually went back to Larragh Lodge, the place where we had our reception for a walk by the waterfalls and a meal.

Then obviously we were back in Madrid for the 21st, we just went out for a meal the night before because my schedule didn’t really suit going out on the anniversary itself. It wasn’t a big celebration, but a nice way to mark getting to two years together, especially considering the challenges the world has thrown at us in the last year.

What’s Up Next?

I can’t imagine going very far in October, I’ll try and fit in a few new Fútbol Modesto grounds in the Communidad de Madrid (including one that’s been on the list for a very long time) and, finances depending, maybe go back to another one of the big grounds around the city.

Maybe the last weekend of the month will represent a chance to get away as 1st November is a national holiday in Spain and it gives us the luxury of a long weekend.

We will see…

Until next time,

All the best,

Andrew

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