2021 in New Grounds

Welcome to another one of my end-of-year review posts!

This proved something of a hit last year, so here I am attempting to recycle the magic again. At least this year was a bit better for both football and travelling – although the pandemic continued to cast a long shadow, both in terms of restrictions limiting where I could go and in two cases, a game at what would have been a new ground getting called off.

🗓 January

I had big plans for January, but the Madrid weather had other ideas.

Storm Filomena hit on 7th January and caused the city to grind to a halt, and understandably enough football took a back seat. Many teams were unable to use their training facilities for upwards of two weeks and two weekends worth of fixtures were totally wiped out.

1️⃣ Ciudad Real Madrid Campo 11, Madrid

I’d tried to get access to Real Madrid’s Ciudad Deportiva on a couple of previous occasions, but due to Covid-19 protocols limiting the number of people allowed to attend, getting approved to cover a game there proved quite difficult.

Fortunately a couple of days before the first Primera Iberdrola round of the new year, I received a call informing me that my application to cover the derby with Madrid CFF had been accepted.

The Ciudad Real Madrid is right next to the Cercanias station at Valdebebas and as such, a very short trip from home for me. Upon arriving and handing over my Covid-19 declaration form, I was presented with a ‘welcome bag’ which included my accreditation (alas with my name incorrectly spelled), a spare disposable mask, some hand sanitiser and a bottle of water.

Campo 11 is located just behind the main stadium in the complex, the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, and boasts one stand full of blue seats with a clear view of the entire pitch. As this was a behind closed doors game, there weren’t any facilities for refreshments on site.

Would I go back? Since, Real Madrid have now moved Femenino matches to the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano (see below) a return visit seems unlikely.

🗓 February

February was an extremely prolific month as I was able to add three new grounds from various levels of the regional football pyramid in Madrid.

2️⃣ Polideportivo Rodríguez Sahagún, Madrid

Shortly after moving to the area in October 2019, I noticed a football pitch in the park at the bottom of my street while on the bus to work. But I didn’t think to investigate any further until late last year.

It was then that I found out the name of the ground and that it was used by a number of lower league sides over the course of a regular weekend. Then at the start of February I decided to actually check it out for a game – a 9am kick off no less!

The small stands were unfortunately out of bounds because they were filled with the substitutes from both sides. So it was watching through the fence for me and the few other hardy souls who had turned up.

It’s actually not a bad place to watch a game and the far side boasts a nice view of the iconic Cuatro Torres, but there are no other facilities on site. So no bar for a pre-game café con leche or a warming half-time caldo.

Would I go back? For the mere fact it’s extremely handy, yes! Plus there’s nothing quite like a 9am kick off to blow away the cobwebs on a Sunday morning!

3️⃣ Campo Virgen de la Esperanza, Madrid

My visit to AD Esperanza came about almost by chance but it turned out to be one of my more memorable games of the 2020/21 season, with visitors CD Barajas receiving four red cards in a crazy second half.

It lived up what was a fairly unpleasant morning weatherwise, after I initially went the wrong way from Esperanza Metro station and had to backtrack to find the ground. It’s in a fairly typical sports complex, with smaller pitches for 5/6-a-side out front and the main pitch behind.

One drawback is that the standing area has a net in front of it, which does partially obstruct your view – and makes taking good photos much more difficult – and of course there’s no cover.

It does have a small, but cosy, bar on site though with plenty of memorabilia on the walls including a rather unusual scarf bearing the name “Real Club Recreativo de Recre”.

Would I go back? Why not? It’s free entry and not particularly far from where I live, so a return visit could be on the cards next year.

4️⃣ Estadio Román Valero, Madrid

Despite having heard numerous tales of what a good place Colonia Moscardó’s ground is, I had never got round to visiting in my previous two-and-a-half years of living in Madrid.

This was finally rectified at the end of February when I took a trip to see Mosca play against EDF Ciudad de Getafe in the Preferente.

It has a small covered stand on one side, with rows of uncovered terracing behind one of the goals and facing the stand, offering you plenty of options to choose from when taking your place.

The bar at the ground is huge and serves a superb variety of food – not just your bocatas here – and is open throughout the week as well. Another small thing that I really like is that not only do they have a merchandise stall at the entrance, it also stays open throughout the game.

Would I go back? I’ve already been back! And not for the last time. It’s a great addition to the Tercera in Madrid this season.

🗓 March

March started off well with a long-overdue visit to Barajas, but it turned out to be my only new ground of the month.

5️⃣ Campo Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, Barajas

Barajas is a pretty unique place in terms of grounds I’ve visited so far and I think from looking at the pictures, you can see why.

It’s that pitch. In a world where more and more grounds have artificial surfaces, Barajas bucks the trend by eschewing grass entirely. Instead the pitch is made of sandy gravel, exactly the kind of pitch you ruined your good shoes playing on during lunchtime at school. Extreme caution is advised when slide tackling – even the visiting goalkeeper saw his tights ruined by too many diving saves.

There’s a little bit of cover should the weather be inclement and there is a bar with a view of the pitch. Plus points for the murals outside as well!

It helped that the day I visited in March was one of the nicest days of the year so far.

Would I go back? A massive yes! I actually went back to see Barajas’ pre-season trophy match in September and I’m sure I’ll pay another visit this season.

🗓 April

Only one new ground in April, but it was a good one!

6️⃣ Instalaciones Deportivas La Unión

La Unión is home to a number of teams in the Vallecas area, but I visited to see the fan-owned club Independiente de Vallecas – and enjoyed the experience so much that I ended up staying for two games in that one afternoon.

It’s fairly basic in terms of facilities, but the Independiente fans produce a great atmosphere and every game I’ve seen there has produced a lot of goals.

Special mentions for the bar and its excellent sandwiches and the Independiente merchandise stall, responsible for probably my favourite addition to my scarf collection this year!

Would I go back? Already have been! La Unión is not the flashiest of grounds but it’s a great matchday experience.

🗓 May

May was busy as I went to both ends of the Communidad de Madrid in search of new grounds as well as visiting a new one not too far away from my first flat in the city.

7️⃣ Estadio Asociación de Vecinos de Orcasitas

The Estadio Asociación de Vecinos de Orcasitas had recently received a much-needed facelift, with an artificial pitch replacing the old gravel one. Much to the relief of everyone who plays on it I imagine!

When I went it was serving as the home ground of Flat Earth FC, in their final days of existence under that name, not that many of their fans bothered to turn up. Almost everyone here was supporting visitors Parla, or waiting for their turn to play on the pitch afterwards.

It’s a nice place to watch a game pitchside, with a decent amount of cover should the weather be unpleasant. Plus the bar has a terrace facing the pitch!

Would I go back? A return visit is definitely on the agenda.

8️⃣ Estadio Municipal El Deleite, Aranjuez

Get the binoculars out!

I picked a great day to visit Real Aranjuez’s Estadio Municipal El Deleite in May and the game turned out to be one of the best I saw all last season.

The walk to the groundthrough the picturesque town of Aranjuez was pleasant enough, albeit quite long and trying to find the entrance was more complicated than it needed to be. After buying my ticket (at €15 one of the most expensive in the Tercera!) I was required to walk up a steep hill to find the one gate that was in operation.

The main stand was impressive for this level and the view of the mountains in the background is lovely, but the athletics track around the pitch makes the action seem a million miles away.

And to compound things, on one of the warmest days of the year so far, there was no open bar or refreshments kiosk on site. The only food or drink I could see had been brought along in a picnic basket by some home fans

Would I go back? It’s a maybe for this one, it has potential as part of a day trip but the lack of amenities was a real let-down.

9️⃣ Campo de Fútbol Alberto Ruiz, Colmenar Viejo

A grey day in May took me north to Colmenar Viejo, a place I had previously only visited for an admin appointment back in November last year.

The ground was a bit of a trek from the train station, but with its unique roof design, murals and an excellent bar behind one of the goals, it was a worthwhile addition to my list. The game was fairly exciting too, even if it did end in a defeat for the hosts.

A special shout out for the club official who missed about ten minutes of the game hunting through the office to see if he could locate a scarf for me, alas to no avail.

Would I go back? Yes, it would be nice to see the ground on a clear day and maybe even get a scarf (if they’ve managed to locate one in the office!)

🗓 June and July

Sadly there were no new grounds for me in either month. In June I just visited two very familiar grounds, Villaverde and Santa Ana, at the end of the Tercera season, while in July I didn’t actually go to any games at all.

Pre-season had started in Madrid, but most teams were either playing behind closed doors or limiting attendance to socios only.

🗓 August

Alas, although I made it back home to Northern Ireland, there were no new grounds for me this month either. My big chance, Coleraine’s final pre-season friendly away to Dollingstown, fell foul of Covid-19 and then the two games I did go to were at grounds I’d been to numerous times before.

🗓 September

Back in Madrid for the new season, I mostly stuck to familiar haunts until the end of the month, when I made a short trip to somewhere new nearby.

1️⃣0️⃣ Polideportivo La Cabrera, Madrid

My first new ground of the 2021/22 season was the home of Club Unión Zona Norte, newly promoted to the Madrid Preferente. I visited for their first home game of the season, against CD Canillas at the end of September, and really enjoyed the experience.

Zona Norte have a small, but extremely loud, group of fans, who really added to the atmosphere and it’s hard to beat somewhere where you can just stand pitchside. Unfortunately I didn’t get to visit the bar as I was concerned about losing my standing space, that’s something for my next visit.

Would I go back? I think I probably will. It’s quite close to my flat, easily walkable on a nice day

🗓 October

October was a good month, with an extended period of good weather helping me to get out and about plenty and add three new grounds to the list.

1️⃣1️⃣ Campo La Herrería, San Lorenzo de El Escorial

A day trip to San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday.

After a morning of walking around the town and a nice lunch, I walked down to the Campo La Herrería for a Segunda Regional match between local club San Lorenzo and Alpedrete. Entry was free to a rather charming ground with a small stand, some terracing and a small bar tucked away in the far corner.

But really, it’s all about that view. The sight of the Real Monasterio and the Sierra de Guadarrama rising up behind the stadium is wonderful and certainly makes for one of the most stunning backdrops anywhere in football – even if I wasn’t able to get the perfect angle on it!

Would I go back? Definitely! Already thinking of a return visit in the spring.

1️⃣2️⃣ Polideportivo Municipal La Concepción, Madrid

Located in Madrid’s Barrio de la Concepción and part of a larger sports facility, this ground plays host to Preferente side EF Concepción.

It boasts two covered stands with concrete terracing and although entry was free, on the day I visited, there were almost as many people watching from outside through the fence as there were inside.

Alas there’s not too much to recommend it for visitors, the athletics track means that you’re not overly close to the action and bar a very old-looking vending machine, there aren’t any facilities for refreshments unless you leave and visit one of the local bars.

Would I go back? The game I saw there will hardly go down as a classic and the lack of facilities on site makes a return visit unlikely.

1️⃣3️⃣ Ciudad Deportiva Getafe, Getafe

Getafe’s Ciudad Deportiva is handily located right next to the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez. What’s not so handy is that they charge €15 to watch their B team in the Tercera!

That said, this is one of the nicer training ground stadiums I’ve been to. The main pitch has an uncovered stand along one side, which offers good views of the pitch and there is a nice bar with a terrace and lots of memorabilia inside.

Would I go back? Probably not to be honest. It’s not that convenient for me travel-wise and the price is a bit off-putting.

🗓 November

My busiest month of the year so far brought seven games, three of them in new grounds.

1️⃣4️⃣ Campo de Fútbol Recinto Ferial, Alcalá de Henares

I visited Recinto Ferial as part of a double-header in Alcalá and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it.

It’s pretty much the opposite of Alcalá’s other Tercera ground El Val. While it is huge and open, Recinto Ferial is tight and compact, with one small stand along the side – although you could possibly count the seated area outside the bar behind the goal as a second stand.

Would I go back? It’s a yes from me! I’m hoping to make a few more trips to Alcalá next year and I’m sure I’ll tie them in with a game or two.

1️⃣5️⃣ Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano, Madrid

By the start of the 2021/22 season, Real Madrid had moved their Femenino games from Campo 11 to the main stadium at Valdebebas, and by November had even allowed us normal people to buy tickets.

I liked the path up to the ground which is lined with replicas of Real Madrid’s 13 European Cups. Once inside, you can see it’s essentially a larger version of Campo 11, with an additional stand on the far side. It’s a good quality stadium, albeit one which lacked a bit of atmosphere as the crowd was a bit spread out throughout the one stand which was open.

The other main problem is that there are no real facilities for supporters on site. The kiosks remain closed and the only option for refreshments comes at half time when people go around selling bottled water.

Would I go back? The lack of facilities is a bit of a turn-off, but if Real Madrid keep making Femenino tickets available to the public at an affordable price, I’ll probably go back again.

1️⃣6️⃣ Campo de San Federico, Madrid

Located in the middle of Madrid’s Dehesa de la Villa park, the home of Espanyol de Madrid is a wonderfully no-frills ground. It’s always nice to see the unusual sight of a sand/clay pitch and the fact the place is painted blue and white doesn’t do it any harm. There’s even a random graffiti dinosaur behind one of the goals.

There’s not much in the way of terracing and it might not be a great place to be when it rains but it has bags of character.

Plus at half time, you can get your snack or drink from a little shed by the entrance.

Would I go back? A massive yes! I loved the quaint, old-school nature of the ground and the people I spoke to were really friendly as well.

🗓 December

I finally went to a new ground outside of the Communidad de Madrid at the start of this month, but failed to further add to the list after a spate of virus-related postponements on Sunday 19th.

1️⃣7️⃣ Estadio Municipal de la Albuera, Segovia

Home of Gimnástica Segoviana since 1977, La Albuera benefitted from a major refurbishment at the start of the last decade and is a quality ground for the fourth tier of Spanish football.

I ended up sitting near the loudest section of the home fans and the atmosphere helped take my mind off how cold it was. The action on the pitch wasn’t bad either, as the home side came from behind to defeat Marino de Luanco 4-1. There was a rather lovely sunset as well.

On the negative side, the fact the ground is open at both ends adds to how cold it is and there was nothing on sale at the ground in terms of food or drink (presumably affected by Covid-19 restrictions, but a warm drink to keep my hands warm would have been greatly appreciated) or merchandise. I saw some excellent scarves being worn by fans and I was sad that I couldn’t add one to my collection.

Would I go back? I really enjoyed my day out in Segovia, despite the cold, and I’m sure I’ll go back in the future and hopefully get a scarf this time!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.