Friday, January 15, 2010

Crappy New Year

Full credit to the lads and lasses of easyJet, their collective efforts managed to get me and the good lady home to Spain in time for the first Santa Pola fixture of 2010. After the misery of our outward journey, we could have been forgiven for worrying about the fact we only had about nineteen hours between our scheduled departure time and kick off. I did have a contingency though, this involved either walking or grabbing a taxi direct to the game from Alicante airport, thankfully neither were necessary which was quite a relief because I didn't really fancy lumping a big old black suitcase around with me pitchside.

Had I known two important things, for sure I would have extended my UK stay into the following week, in this order, those two things were; (a) the game wasn't taking place at the remodelled Estadio Manolo Macia and, (b) Santa Pola would lose to league leaders Horadada despite a terrific team effort that posed the visitors quite a few questions. In the end, both happened and more by outrageous luck than judgement we avoided the UK's worst winter for ages which left everywhere buried beneath a foot of snow for at least a week and would have delayed our late return home by a further fortnight.

For the first time in twelve days I didn't need a huge coat and gloves, a scarf was sufficient together with a light fleece, Sunday January 3rd was the date and for a week or so after the game I wished I was somewhere else because unfortunately Santa Pola lost. Credit where credit is due though, Horadada are a decent football team and their position at the top of the charts most certainly isn't some kind of fluke. So far this season teams have been nicking points off each other all over the place, not many though have taken on Horadada and emerged with very much at all.

For eighty minutes Santa Pola gave them a stiff test and looked good value for at least a point, unfortunately, football is played over an hour and a half and the final ten proved crucial as the visitors scored two unanswered goals. Both teams were mighty impressive for the duration, shifting the ball about quickly and with intent, frequently a single touch was enough to put both defences on red alert. At the mid-way point, both goal-keepers had warmed their hands without being required to bollock the centre-back as they always do once a goal has been conceded.

Sometimes you enjoy a first half so much that the second is eagerly awaited and disappoints, for sometimes, read 'today'. Horadada continued where they left off and Santa Pola didn't seem able to continue their high tempo. Visualise a Tug of War with eight muscle bound hard men on each side, the red tape in the middle of the rope barely moves, but then slowly, imperceptibly one side gain an advantage and from that point on the momentum shifts, thereafter the winners become obvious. Santa Pola got to that point at about seventy five minutes. For the home side minutes eighty to about ninety three or four contained two goals, zero points, fourteen crestfallen players and about three hundred and fifty disappointed locals as 2010 began with a defeat.

I think, after about five months, I've got it sussed. Santa Pola are a good football team and play extremely well against outfits with technique and fitness, but when it comes to the crunch against cack teams they're found wanting and get dragged down to a level beneath them, a bit like Liverpool and Reading in the Cup.

Actually, it wasn't such a crappy New Year in fairness. So what, 'Pola lost but after a two week break it was right nice to be amongst familiar faces, all of whom were there for the same reason. Full time Santa Pola 0 - 2 Horadada.

Top - some ropey old weather in the UK
Middle & Bottom - no quarter asked or given when these two squared off

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