Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pre-season friendlies are rarely friendly

The first few from ten passed off fairly innocuously, but then, as fitness and testosterone levels slowly crept up so too did the aggression and niggle, culminating in a spectacular fifteen man row and a badly fractured tibia. Seven pre-season friendlies in, an initial thirty plus training group was whittled down to twenty five with only a couple not sure of a contract. FFCV, (Federacion de Futbol de la Comunidad Valencia), league rules restrict Preferente teams, Santa Pola C.F. included, to twenty two contracted players and any number from the reserve squad, El Promesas.

At the end of the 2008/09 season, near neighbours Torrellano, just fifteen minutes down the road, ended up top of the Preferente Group 4 pile and, via the play-offs, were promoted to group 6 of the regional third division, two divisions and an even harder pair of play offs beneath La Liga. It was good to see that even amongst both teams radically changed squads, the historical simmering resentment hadn't completely disappeared, presumably because there were sufficient players from either team with recent experience of the fixture. Money must have been the only reason to schedule the game because these two don't get on and probably never will.
Either way, the respective Presidents swallowed their pride, were civil to each other on the telephone for the five minutes it took to agree the fixture and set a date.

Wednesday August the 19th at seven thirty saw four hundred odd spectactors, about a third of whom were visitors, witness Santa Pola on the wrong end of a 1-5 hiding. All was going well at the half way mark with the visitors 0-2 ahead. Curiously, with wholesale changes at the break, you could be forgiven for thinking any developing feuds would have been closed down before they had an opportunity to escalate, wrong! In time honoured tradition a yellow card for his assailant failed to appease Santa Pola captain Monsa who went looking for his man a short time later. You know the rest.

The initial couple became five, then eight before only six or seven thought better of it and half heartedly acted as peacemakers. One bloke, their centre half, who could and should have attempted to quell things, actually ran the width of the pitch to get stuck in. Once all concerned had put the lipstick back in their handbags, Torrellano scored the final goal of the game and the referee, who, had he had his wits about him could have tactfully suggested a couple of substitions to the opposing coaches, blew for time. On the upside, walking back to my car at the end of the hostilities, I caught sight of at least two Torrellano players hobbling towards the bus home.

A week later, in their final outing before the season proper Santa Pola made the trip to Los Montesinos to take on the home side of the same name on a plastic pitch. A comfortable 0-1 win for the Marineros was marred by a sickening tackle on 'Pola winger Paloma, who, doing a passable impression of Ed Moses didn't quite hurdle the outstretched leg of the Montesinos sub' who'd only been on the pitch twenty minutes. Paloma eventually got to his feet and continued until the end, the other bloke lay there groaning. Ten kilometers down the road on my way home, I passed the ambulance going in the opposite direction heading for the stadium, it's two man crew about to be pre-occupied by the unenviable task of piecing back together groaning boys shin bone.

Friendlies, I have my doubts.
PHOTO: Club captain Vicente and two of his mates

No comments:

Post a Comment