An Englishman's unhealthy obsession with lower league Spanish football
Monday, February 1, 2010
"Welcome home" said Gérard Depardieu.
A few weeks after the Santa Pola playing squad ended their work for the season towards the summer of 2009, another set of employees started theirs. That July, work started on the renovation of the Marineros home ground, the Estadio Municipal Manolo Macia in the town. Fast forward to early 2010, and the morning of Saturday January 23rd, a morning on which Mother Nature did a terrific job of disguising a bitterly cold day beneath a weak sun and blue skies.
Shortly after 12 noon, town Mayor Miguel Zaragoza Fernández and Valencian Autonomous Government Deputy for Sport, Don Bernabé Cano symbolically cut the tape and walked over the threshold, accompanied by about a thousand locals, football fans and journalists, to begin a tour of the remodelled stadium.
Inspection over, the dignatories made their way onto the pitch to officially declare the place open with a succession of short speeches and photo call with the two Santa Pola academy teams who had the honour of staging the first match on the billiard table smooth, grass playing surface.
Five hours later, and more than six months since the last competitve league game, C.D.Thader de Rojales arrived and promptly proceeded to ruin a gala day for the town of Santa Pola and it's proud football team. It seems Thader hadn't bothered to read the script or if they did, the words were studiuously ignored as the visitors romped to 0-2 victory, aided by two somewhat streaky goals.
Actually it was nothing like a romp for the away side, in a forgettable first half half punctuated only by a scruffy, to say the least, goal off the knee of Gerard Depardieu lookalike and occasional Thader full back Aurelio. Dear old Gerard knew nothing whatsoever about it and wheeled away in celebration, when, really he should have been deeply embarrassed and perhaps even a little ashamed. I certainly would have been.
Once the game resumed for the second half, Thader goalkeeper Toni staked a claim for man of the match on the back of about thirty five minutes of play. The battering started shortly after visiting defender Marcos was asked to leave by referee Iannopollo. Down to ten men, none of whom ventured very far forward, Thader were clinging on for grim death as Toni used various body parts, and, once or twice a couple together, to ensure his net remained intact. When your luck is out it's amazing how often two posts and a crossbar represent a far bigger target than a twenty four feet wide and eight foot high goal mouth. By now you can guess the kind of second half Santa Pola were having. It got worse four minutes into stoppage time.
The umpteenth panic stricken ball thumped out of the Thader box pitched halfway into the Santa Pola half, with perhaps the only mistake he's made all season long, the ultra reliable Carlos Fernandez conceded possession, and, while the hitherto bored home goalkeeper Pazos filled his nappy, Thader sub' Marcelino filled his size tens. And that was that!
PHOTOS: Top - A couple of VIP's do the business with some scissors Middle - The ugly French actor who opened the scoring Bottom - Santa Pola players, coaching staff, the Mayor and his missus