I’m not a huge fan of Spanish Football, the lack of fan culture and atmosphere in Spanish Stadiums does little to provoke my Interests. I do usually watch El Classico though like the rest of the world but every time I’m repulsed at how for 90 minutes some of the so called best players in the world spend the majority of the match rolling around whilst trying to get their opposition number sent off. I know this happen’s a lot now in all leagues but it really is a different level in La Liga.
However on a recent international week trip to Spain I couldn’t resist taking in a Segunda Division game on my way back from Alicante. I found myself inland to Albacete to see the home side take on Tenerife at the Estadio Carlos Belmonte.
My allegiances for this one lay strictly with the away side Tenerife thanks to some fellow England Fans who are regulars at Tenerife home games and had arranged tickets for my group as long as we could pick them up ourselves from the manager himself, naturally at the team hotel before the game.
In Spain away fans travel in very small numbers if at all so it’s no surprise that for a team like Tenerife where a flight is required for every away day that the club officials themselves take on the responsibility of distributing its away allocation. It was the first game for newly appointed Tenerife manager José Luis Martí and he requested we show plenty of “Animacion” in the away section today to support the team. I’ll do my best I told him.
After this rather unexpected occurrence we headed back in the town for a couple of beers on a rather chilly Sunday afternoon south east Espana before heading down to the ground about a hour before kickoff. There’s wasn’t much to the ground, a small kiosk selling club merchandise stood out amongst the dozens of men selling monkey nuts. Fortunately we did stumble upon a bar over the road from the stadium. First impressions from the outside left a lot to be desired, it looked as if half the bar had been blown up so understandable we were a little hesitant on entering, though inside this appeared to be the top spot for Albacete fans pre match Mahon. Remarkable prices too, 2 bottles of beer and a snifter of Brandy full to the rim, no half measures in Albacete, came to just €5.
It was here that we met up with a party of other England fans that also shared our intrigue for some domestic football that day and we soon had a strong group of about 20 fans ready to join the 60 or so Tenerife fans that had made the journey.
Once in the ground there wasn’t a segregated away section as such so we were left to our own devices and chose to just group together in block along the one side of the pitch amongst the home fans. The travelling Tenerife fans soon warmed to us once we’d began creating our own songs supporting the Canary Islands side which by the end of the game we had the natives singing them with us too.
The game itself unsurprisingly lacked any real quality with both teams failing to really put their foot on the ball and control the game. Tenerife had only picked up 1 away win all season so far and quickly became apparent why so it came as some surprise then when Tenerife took the lead midway through the first half with a clinical strike from outside the area after poor Albacete clearance. The home team equalised in stoppage time in the first half but it was Tenerife who found a winner with 10 minutes to go sending the Tenerife section into raptures. At the full time whistle the players came over to take our applause and even threw their shirts in the crowd and posed for photos with some of the die hards who had made the trip.
Post match some of the regular Tenerife fans thanked us for coming and for supporting their team. It was really enjoyable and somewhat unexpected personal experience of second division Spanish league football and one I can’t wait to follow up.