Two games in eight hours played in cities located in two different Spanish provinces? Not a problem for the FBTG crew, but it made for a tight schedule. We dedicated our recent Sunday to the Beautiful Game as it is played in the lower leagues in the deep south of Spain.
For our first fixture of the day, we met up with Antonio of Rutassiera (one of the official media partners of Aroche CF) and travelled with the club away to Castilleja de la Cuesta in the outskirts of Seville. Aroche is a small town located in the highlands of Huelva province, and its Football club is celebrating its first year in the División de Honor Andaluza. The second fixture saw us back in the Estadio Municipal de Chapín, where our soft-spot Xerez Deportivo FC took on CD Utrera in La Tercera Grupo X. This is how it looked.
11:29 – arrival at Plaza de Armas bus station in Seville.
11:44 – Antonio of Rutassierra arrived in the car. I hopped straight into the passenger’s seat and we set off for Castilleja de la Cuesta in the outskirts of Seville.
11:57 – search for a parking spot close to the Estadio Municipal Antonio Almendro, home of Castilleja CF, and spend far too long circling.
12:02 – having downed an energy drink, we pay at the entrance of the small ground and enter. 8€ per adult. Antonio changes shirts and we take our places with the away fans. Considering the size of Aroche is a town of only 3,000 inhabitants, taking 150 to 200 fans away on a Sunday in the 5th tier of Spanish Football is impressive.
12:23 – after snapping a few pics (some of which you see here) of the ground, I had to the club bar and ground some cold Cruzcampos for Antonio and myself.
12:47 – the whistle blows for half time. All fans home and away congregate at the club bar for some bevvies, and we follow suit. Antonio introduces me to Juan Carlos, the media manager of the club, and then the president. In spite of being at work and I am sure very busy, both take the time to introduce themselves to me and ask about my business that weekend in Seville. Back at the bar, Antonio and I tank up and take our places once again in the away end, which was considerably louder during the second half.
13:43 – the keeper runs out to try clear a floating ball across the box, but his outstretched leg collects the leg of a Castilleja CF forward, bringing him to the ground. A penalty is awarded, and in the verbal melee that ensues, one of the Aroche CF players is shown his second yellow and begin marching.
13:45 – the penalty is consequently slotted away with a mere matter of minutes left on the clock.
13:50 – two minutes from four to go in extra time, and Aroche CF are pushing hard for an equaliser. But three players from Castilleja CF break and outnumber the Aroche defense, resulting in an easy slot-in to conclude the game. The result takes Castilleja CF, a club celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, to the top of the league, while Aroche CF finished the game with nine men after another red card. Yet the travelling Aroche fans gave the players a warm reception, and applauded their efforts.
14:18 – many of the travelling Aroche CF fans (and myself) walk to the Plaza de Santiago nearby and occupy the majority of the outdoor tables, before feasting on an excellent array of seafood tapas and sherry wines.
15:12 – I bid Antonio and the travelling Aroche CF fans adieu and make for the nearby bus stop to travel back to Seville.
15:56 – after hopping off at Plaza de Armas, I stride quickly to San Bernardo train station across town, conscious of the fact that the last train that can get me to Jerez in time for the match between Xerez Deportivo FC and CD Utrera leaves at 16:48.
16:36 – buy my ticket in a sweaty rush, only to discover that the train is late. Unsurprisingly.
17:58 – jump off the train with two minutes to kick-off.
18:10 – the Estadio Municipal de Chapín comes into view on the horizon. I swiftly purchase my ticket for 6€; an act that takes far less time than it usually does, purely thanks to the lack of a queue. I enter and grab a couple more beers.
18:14 – take my place in the Fondo Sur, among the noise. The members of El Kolectivo Sur are doing a particularly good job of bringing the atmosphere today.
18:47 – a particularly dry first half on the pitch ends, so naturally we all pile downstairs for more booze.
19:15 – a penalty is awarded to CD Utrera for a foul in the penalty box. Striker Sergio Navarro stepped up, but Xerez Deportivo goalkeeper José Manuel Camacho guessed correctly, diving low to his right to beat the ball away.
19:17 – our celebrations in the Fondo Sur were short lived; the referee decided to award a second penalty immediately to CD Utrera on the grounds of encroachment of the penalty box. Fans erupted, as did the Xerez players. Yet as the same player stepped up to try and convert, the hero of the day Camacho once again guessed correctly to palm the incoming ball safely away to his right. So enthusiastic was the response in the stands that one shoe found itself being flung onto the running track around the pitch.
19:50 – the game concludes at a dissatisfying, though probably fair, 0-0 scoreline. Fans begin to spill out onto the main roads, and I make for the train station.
21:20 – I step out of San Bernardo train station into the cool night air of Seville, stopping off for pizza on my way to my pillow.