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Saturday 21st December 2013 ko 13.30

1a División Andaluza Cadete

REAL BETIS CADETE A 7 (Santos 5 Toni 26 44 69 Ángel 83 Edu 86p José 85p)

SAN ROQUE DE LEPE 0

Att c200

Entry FREE

Teamsheet “FREE”

With a day in Seville and a Sunday spent doing little more than travelling to and from Huelva there was little point retaining the hire car. I returned it to the rental company at Santa-Justa rail station and the young girl who took the keys asked how I’d found the Fiat 500 to drive,

“Absolutely fine,” I replied, “But the steering wheel is on the wrong side!”

She panicked for a moment, glancing over to the car before realising what I meant! We exchanged a joke or two about driving in each other’s countries before Andy and I strolled over to the station to plan the details of our next two days over a coffee that the station café managed to forget to charge us for, then refused point-blank to accept my payment when I tried to be honest!

The tourist information booth is excellent, and the free map with the streets of Seville on one side, and Andalucía on the reverse was invaluable. They advised us to buy a 10 trip pass for the buses for €10; you can share the pass too, so it paid for all our transport in Seville for the rest of our stay, apart from the €4 trip back to the airport. You can buy and recharge the pass from most tobacconists.

It turned out that Santa-Justa station is a pretty good hub for Seville, if you’re visiting Sevilla’s home, the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán the ground is walkable, but our route meant taking the bus back to the Old Town, then walking through to the River Guadalquivir then catching another bus through to the Estadio Benito Villamarín in Heliopolis district.

The Old Town is fascinating, a real glimpse into Seville’s past. The area was under Muslim control from 712-1248 and the Islamic North African architecture sits alongside the Christian influences that followed. As an Englishman it was strange walking along the narrow streets without a coat less than a week before Christmas, seeing the famous Seville oranges ripe on the trees lining the streets. The Seville orange was introduced to the area by the Muslims and is a constituent part of that most English of foods, marmalade! I tried one, it seemed rude not to, but it was incredibly bitter!

Real Betis’ minor teams play at Cuidad Deportiva Luis del Sol, a stone’s throw from the main stadium. At the moment there’s a cafeteria and a concrete terrace, but in the background the new stand is taking shape which will offer a fine home to Betis II currently playing in the 4th division Tercera, on the near pitch. However, on a warm sunny day it was a pleasure to sit and watch a youth team game on the far pitch with the families of the players who’d all done what we’d failed to do and bring a packed lunch!

As games go it wasn’t competitive enough to be a good spectacle. The visitors first XI may play in the same Tercera division as their hosts’ reserves but their youth team was no match whatsoever to Betis youth’s first eleven. With deep-lying forward Toni collecting a straightforward hat trick Betis ran in goal after goal, and all Roque de Lepe had to show for it all was a solitary corner. Their shell-shocked keeper Chu was replaced for the last half-an-hour, but his replacement Eu shipped another 4 goals as the defence in front of him collapsed.

As enjoyable as it was, it felt like the hors d’oeuvres to the main event, and with the stadium clearly visible in the background it was soon time to make its acquaintance.