An Englishman's unhealthy obsession with lower league Spanish football
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Not even close
PHOTO: All smiles before the start, captains Willy Caballero (Elche) and Tote (Hercules) pose with the match officials.
After a six day build-up "derby day" eventually arrived, and, as with Christmas, it was over in a flash. Following a week of intrusive interview and photo requests, both sets of players and their coaching staff, just like Grand Prix drivers cocooned in their cockpits on the grid, were at long last granted the sanctuary of the pitch and technical areas.
For the visiting fans and the objects of their desire, the respite was shortlived, Hercules were on their game from the moment Sr.Francisco Ramon Hevia Obras blew to start proceedings, from then on Elche were on the back foot. Twice in a one sided first half Montenegrin striker Andrija Delibasic ruptured the visiting rearguard, thereafter the result was a formality.
In fairness two would have been plenty, so short on confidence were Elche, in the end that man again notched his third and took the match ball home as Hercules delighted their Alicante faithful. As much awaited derbies against the hated local rivals go this, to say the least, was quite a tame affair. Eighty five innocuous minutes flew by before the briefest hint of handbags, Elche defender Marti Crespi made a token effort to square up to Hercules counterpart Rodriguez. When you're three nil to the good though it's hardly surprising most confrontations can be sorted with a smile and a pat on the head.
Final score; Hercules 3 - 0 Elche
Huge credit is due to the 1500 or so visiting Ilicitanos, impeccably behaved throughout, their team was outplayed and never had a chance of winning. Not for them though the age old disruptive tactic of hurling missiles or punches. Word of mouth was the weapon of choice and even during the thirty minutes they were detained behind closed doors at the end of the game their supportive voices continued without interruption.
Unfortunately for coach Claudio Barragan, defeat in the "Clasico Alicantino" was his last contribution to the Elche C.F. cause. Just hours after this dispiriting reverse he was sacked after less than a year in charge. President Jose Sepulcre finally lost patience with the man, who, in November 2008 turned the club's fortunes around after a similar dismal start to the 2008/09 campaign.