SATURDAY OCTOBER 31ST
Just when I was giving some serious thought to changing my name to Harry, the North London derby occurred and immediately put the kybosh on a bit of flawed idea. I managed to watch the first forty three minutes before turning off the TV in a bit of a huff. One quick Google Earth later and I jumped in the car to scope out Santa Pola's next away opponents.
Orihuela is about twenty minutes away from Elche and their B team were taking on Mutxamel in a Preferente fixture I didn't really need to see but just fancied because Spurs were so shite. Orihuela have one of the leagues most attractive stadiums, Los Arcos, right in the centre of town. Unfortunately, it was out of bounds today which meant a slight detour around the city to the middle of nowhere, a small pueblo, (village), called Hurchillo, where, the rather grandly titled Ciudad Deportiva was anything but. The place was accessed only by seven odd kilometres of teeth jarring cobble stoned road, in England you'd be picking up stones and dog shit from the playing surface before attempting to stage the game. Surrounded on all four sides by a head high wire fence just three feet from the touch line, a reasonable crowd turned up to watch, all of whom sat on their car bonnets to view proceedings. With no cantina or loo's, (I took a wazz in the stinging nettles behind the decrepit changing rooms), I knew straightaway I'd not be hurrying back. After a brief chat with the Mutxamel coach to suss out his team, we were joined unexpectedly by one Domingo Grau, the Santa Pola manager who had the same idea as me. A last minute goal by Orihuela B's ginger haired full back Rojo shared the points in a 2-2 draw, shortly after I put my gum shield back in ready for the journey back.
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 1ST
After a quick dash home to knock up some words and email a couple of photo's it was back to Santa Pola to pick up my mate Mark for the third of three games, the Tercera group 6 clash between Torrevieja and Elche Ilicitano at the Vicente Garcia in Torre'. At the start of my Spanish odyssey I lived in Torrevieja for two months and hated it without ever being tempted to visit the local team. FC Torrevieja deserve all the plaudits that come their way, the club were almost bankrupt and out of existence just a couple of years ago, thanks to financial mis-management by the previous board. A fantastic effort by fans, a new group of Directors, local businesses and well wishers got the enterprise back on it's feet and they're now thriving. Santa Pola C.F. could certainly learn something from the commercial acitivities run by Torrevieja.
Elsewhere, and unlike Harry Redknapp, the two Segunda A teams I follow and watch closely did really well. Elche travelled to Madrid to take on Rayo Vallecano, the only second division team with a female President, Maria Teresa Rivero, and came away with an excellent 0-1 win. At the same time as Santa Pola meekly surrendered to Polop, Hercules took on Real Sociedad at home and spanked them 5-1. A bit of a mixed bag then really with the two most important games a bit crap.
Top - Santa Pola coach Domingo Grau
Middle - Captain Monsa, out of luck for 'Pola
Bottom - Alvaro for Elche B fends of Gustavo (3)