10am on a Friday morning may be an unusual time for a Football match, but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable – particularly when you’ve been able to go for so long. But with restrictions easing slightly and pre-season friendlies now underway, we did not miss the opportunity to get our groundhopping kicks once again in the home of a semi-professional outfit in Spain.
Needless to say that in the past 15 months it has been tough to find live Football games to attend, enjoy and subsequently write about. Travel has been limited, entry requirements into stadia have been very strict and – let’s be honest – in the grander scheme of things writing about Football fan culture has not been a high priority in the world recently. Since early March we have been to just one live Football match; a heavily regulated Tercera Group X league fixture between Xerez Deportivo and Rota. This weekend however that changes.
A small-time club that we have a bit of a soft spot for here at FBTG has hit a milestone today. Happy 8th Birthday to Xerez Deportivo Football Club – a sports team fighting to keep the Football traditions of a city alive and well.
The time would have been around 6pm. The final spots of daylight were fading quickly into the surrounding buildings. The sun had been kissing the horizon when we left the guest stadium in Bornos, but that had changed quickly in the bus ride back through the foothills of the Cordilleras Béticas. In the shadow of the Chapín, my two interviewees led me to an innocuous family bar.
Not wanting to waste more money on the metro, I bet with myself that I could make it back from the office to my home where I would be working for the rest of the day in time for my next meeting. The emergency dash to the HR office had taken care of my immediate concern with time to spare, so I decided to walk back from the centre of town towards my flat, snaking my way through El Born district. But in spite of my haste, one shop window still caught my eye and stopped me in my tracks.
One feature common to many cities across Catalonia is their “Rambla” – a surprisingly complex concept to describe when you stop and think about it. It is little more than a straight road (more or less), usually lined with trees either side that is located relatively centrally in the town in question. A suitable English translation could be something like “avenue” or “promenade”, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
I saw the work you see below from a moderate distance during a brief evening walk the other night on my way back home before curfew began. It naturally caught my eye and so I wandered across for a closer look, trying to figure out if it was the shutters for a Brazilian restaurant or bar or similar. But upon returning today with my camera to grab a photo, it transpired that the property is for sale. If it ever was a place of business, it sure isn’t currently.
For most people, 2020 has offered little cheer. But the year does mark a noteworthy anniversary for Football fans from one nation that has contributed extensively to the global game. This year citizens from Seville to Santander can celebrate the 100 year anniversary of Spanish international Football.