An Englishman's unhealthy obsession with lower league Spanish football
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Time gentlemen please.
A couple of days after Elche and Levante bored the pants off nearly six thousand people, Santa Pola welcomed near neighbours Alone de Guardamar to the Manolo Macia, where nearly six hundred people, a fantastic crowd at this level, turned up to watch. In fairness, one or two of them were wearing the colours of Glasgow Celtic, a sure sign of an allegiance to the visiting side who's Junta Directiva, (Board of Directors), these days has a heavy Scottish bias. It's not very far away, less than twenty kilometres, so perhaps the large number of "sweaty-socks" were hoping their heroes could avenge the easy 0-3 Santa Pola victory in October, when, three goals to the good at half time, the visitors "parked the bus" and strolled through the second half to help themselves to a simple three points. Today though, just like before, it wasn't to be for the Jocks!
Quite by accident she who must be obeyed and I have got into the habit, every second Sunday morning, of arriving in Santa Pola about ninety minutes ahead of each home fixture, this time is put to good use in one of the town's very best cafeteria's, "Juande" a people watchers paradise opposite the town square that offers the very best in toasted offerings, coffee and clientele. In actual fact, "quite by accident" is anything but, and for a great many footy people the place is the first stop on a three legged coffee/football/tapas tour where a few of the same faces appear before, during and after the game.
One ten minute walk later and suitably coffee'd up, yours truly was helping himself to a team-sheet and a place to sit, because, being a bit of a murky, overcast kind of day brave boy didn't trust the sky overhead not to piss it down. In the end, it stayed dry and for a brief spell the sun made a fleeting appearance, before that though, a black cloud appeared to hang over Santa Pola, who, try as they might, were unable to score. To kind of give the referee from Elche a little bit of credit, conditions weren't ideal, rain was in the air and on a greasy surface players from both sides had difficulty keeping their feet.They only had to endure those difficulties though for forty three and a bit minutes because that was the (slightly early) point at which Sr.Albadalejo blew for half time, perhaps he was dying for a pee!!
Mid-way through, nil-nil.
Watched from the press box high in the stands by a few spectators who would normally be much more involved, Santa Pola and Alone kicked off for a bit more of the same. Five minutes later frustration got the better of one of the elevated watchers and for the remainder of the match 'Pola manager Domingo Grau bellowed instructions from the tunnel area. The remaining Santa Pola players, like Grau banned due to previous disciplinary offences, stayed where they were. Once again Santa Pola were thwarted by either the brilliance of their oppenents goal-keeper or awful finishing, Chema watched as a goal bound header was clawed out by Julen who then punched out a shot by the same home forward. Just as things were beginning to get a little uncomfortable for the Alone defenders, one of their forwards, substitute Mario, took the wind right out of the Santa Pola sails by scoring with ten minutes left.
You could tell Alone were keen to hang on to what they thought were three away points by the ease with which their players went to ground, the slightly portly referee was having none of that though and eventually included an additional eight or nine minutes of "stoppage" time. Miguel Blasco Tari only needed five of them though, this was the point at which Julen made his only mistake of the game, dropping a corner at the feet of the grateful Santa Pola centre-back who prodded home from close range to rescue a deserved point. Quite a few of those visiting folk from north of the border in pretty green and white striped shirts were overheard at the end complaining about how long the official took to blow up, they'd obviously overlooked things like the lengthy substitution of Andres who took an age to hobble off, (helped by a man either side of him), to permit scorer Mario on.
Final score Santa Pola 1-1 Alone de Guardamar
PHOTOS; Top - Domingo Grau and three suspended players look on (Mark Welton) Botom - Adriano (14) feels the force (Mark Welton)