Thursday, February 18, 2010

Welcome to the (concrete) jungle

If you were to believe the Wikipedia entry for the town of Aspe, aproximately 20 kms from Alicante, you would never even consider visiting what, in essence, is a small but perfectly pleasant inland town. In point of fact the Wiki' words are possibly one of the biggest crocks of shit ever to appear on t'internet. Presumably the author/ess isn't a resident, visited the town out of season just after a massive row with his/her partner, it was raining and he/she had a hangover. With it's orange tree's on public streets and typically beautiful parish church, Aspe is no worse than any other similar sized town and considerably nicer than many others.

On Saturday afternoon February the 13th, a coach party arrived in the town, but not to buy cheap underpants at the market or spend some time in Mercadona with loads of elderly Brits though.The bus contained the players and management of Santa Pola CF, in Aspe to take on the local team in a scheduled five o'clock kick off at the stadium on the edge of town. Trust me, Aspe IS a lovely place, but it hasn't half got a shit football ground! To call the "Las Fuentes" facility ugly would greviously offend people like Carlos Tevez or Ian Dowie, who would hate to have such a dreadful place compared to them. A waist high wall, most of  which long ago lost it's coat of white paint, protects the playing surface, which in turn is surrounded on three sides by high, derelict industrial buildings featuring rusty corrugated roofs without an intact glass window between them. The whole place is reminiscent of 1970's Vladivostock, even the small trees behind each goal do little to lift the depressing aura which would still pervade the place on even the sunniest of summer days. Fittingly, the afternoon of the match was perfect for the surroundings, cold, damp, gloomy and miserable.

Looking at the state of the pitch, uneven, bare earth in places, straw coloured and with a smattering of anaemic looking grass, the eventual result against a team rooted to the foot of the table could probably have been predicted. Neither team were really helped by a match official who, for want of better words, made some curious decisions that on balance seemed to favour the home side. With the man in black out of earshot, a couple of local fans took it upon themselves to berate the young female referee's assistant with foul language and vile insults, to her great credit she not only ignored the morons but rose above them to perform admirably in pretty trying circumstances. Of the thirteen or fourteen card carrying decisions referee Conejero made only a few were actually correct, including red cards for a man from each side. Carlos for Aspe left early after trying to emulate John Fashanu with an elbow to the face of Monsa and Miguel for Santa Pola walked off before he was told to following a shocking tackle on Pablo, who somehow, was still able to use both legs at the finish.

Five hundred odd words into this blog entry, you could be forgiven for asking, "well, what about all the goals?" and that's a perfectly reasonable question to which the short answer is there weren't many, or rather, any!! Santa Pola ended up playing the better football by far, but a passing game on a surface better suited to mountain biking isn't easy, especially when the team you're trying to pass the ball around exhibit the finesse of Mike Tyson. No doubt at all in different circumstances, Aspe would have done things a little differently, but when you're deep in the ess aitch one tee at the foot of the table you have to scrap for things and as the poor form continues you scrap even harder. Through no fault of their own Santa Pola were dragged down to the level of the home side and didn't get anywhere near their performance of a week before, not it must be said, for want of trying. Full time Aspe 0 - 0 Santa Pola

Aspe's home ground is more like a concrete bungle to be honest, but bless 'em, they've got to play somewhere and I really wish them well, this time in 2009 they set off an unbeaten charge up the table which surprised me and quite a few others to ensure their Preferente safety for another year. Given a straight choice between Albatera and Aspe, you're talking "no brainer". Maybe the chump on Wikipedia got his A's a bit muddled up, the two towns are miles and miles apart, perhaps his words were meant to sum up Albatera.

Top - Aspe is a nice town whatever the internet tries to con you into believing.
Middle - Marcos tries to ignore his surroundings by looking straight ahead at a Santa Pola corner.
Bottom - By not reacting, this young lady made fools of two locals oafs.
Just above - check out the salubrious seating area behind German

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