Sunday 22nd December 2013 ko 12.00
Liga Adelante (Segunda A)
R.C RECREATIVO HUELVA 2 (Joselu 24) Cifu sent off 13 (denying clear goalscoring opportunity)
U.D. LAS PALMAS 3 (Christantus 22 Valeron 40 Nauzet Aleman 51)
So an early start and check-out for Andy and I from our base in Seville’s Old Town. As we walked over to the bus-stop there were still young people partying from the night before, things start and finish later in Andalucía.
We soon arrived a Santa-Justa station and this time we were charged for our coffee (!) before catching a commuter train due west to the terminus at Huelva. The impression we got of Renfe the train operator, was that although the trains are modern, and the prices cheaper than in the UK, there aren’t that many trains running. Perhaps that was due to the economic downturn in Spain, it was clear time after time that the recession has hit this part of the world more heavily than in the UK.
The city of Huelva grew as a port town, and in particular the export of copper and iron ore, and was a notable Roman town, Onuba, complete with a mint. Modern inhabitants of Huelva are called Onubenses in Spanish.
However to the British, Huelva is most famous as where during World War II Operation Mincemeat allowed a body carrying false information to wash ashore. Mincemeat helped to convince the German high command that the Allies planned to invade Greece and Sardinia in 1943 instead of Sicily, the actual objective. This was accomplished by persuading the Germans that they had, by accident, intercepted “top secret” documents giving details of Allied war plans. The documents were attached to a corpse deliberately left to wash up on a beach.
The corpse, given the identity of Major Martin, was in fact Glyndwr Michael, a Welsh alcoholic vagrant, from Aberbargoed, but the ruse worked and German reinforcements were sent to Greece, Sardinia and Corsica instead of Sicily. The deception was the subject of the classic 1956 film, “The Man Who Never Was.”
The football club has the honour of being the honour of being the oldest in Spain. It was formed in 1889, by two Scots, Alexander Mackay and Robert Russell Ross, to provide workers at the mines owned by Rio Tinto with physical recreation. They played at the local Gas Works’ playing fields, but when these became a dock for local trawlers, landing their catch on the less than romantically named Barriada de Pescadería or Fish Slum the club moved to firstly the Estadio del Velódromo, then in 1957 the Estadio Colombino.
By the turn of the millennium the Estadio Colombino was not fit for a club in the second tier Segunda A, so a new ground, the Estadio Nuevo Colombino, was built near the banks of the River Odiel, on the former Gas Works land where the club was formed over 100 years previously. The club moved to its new 21,000 capacity home in 2002. Since then the club have alternated between the Segunda A and the top flight, with their current stint in the second tier starting in 2009.
We arrived at the ground early, and following the previous day’s success bought the most expensive tickets available, which again proved to me a good move, the uncovered Frondos all suffering from sun in the spectators’ eyes at some point. It also made procuring a teamsheet from the directors’ box straightforward!
Before entering the stadium we went for a stroll round the ground. Three Spanish lads saw my camera, and thinking I was a professional photographer handed me a mobile phone and asked me to take their picture with the main stand in the background. As I lined them up I decided to have a little fun. I said I’d teach them a new English word, and as I lined up the shot, I got them to repeat,
“One, Two, Three, B*****ks!” pressing the shutter as they repeated the fourth word. I am indebted to Andy for remembering the Spanish translation, “Cojones!” We laughed, shook hands, before they made a beeline for the Ultras section. And other than the game, the Recreativo Ultras were what Andy and I will remember our visit for. They were magnificent, keeping up singing and supporting their team on a difficult afternoon for Huelva.
Unquestionable the game hinged on the dismissal of Huelva captain Cifu in the 13th minute. The Ultras will no doubt disagree with me but I felt it was the correct decision, Las Palmas forward Christantus was clean through when Cifu brought him down. The big forward was irresistible scoring soon after, taking advantage of Huelva not replacing the departed defender. That said, the ruse seemed to have worked when Joselu soon equalised, and forward Linares was sacrificed soon after to bolster the defence.
The problem is the no one could handle Christantus, and his influence was obvious as the side from the largest of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria scored each side of half time to put the game beyond Huelva’s reach.
After the game we followed the Ultras through a short-cut across the car park towards the station. As we helped a couple under a chain-link fence, we discovered that the Recreativo Ultras have only been going for a year. They’ve certainly come a long way in a short space of time. We had a little time before the train left for Seville, and found a coffee bar showing “Los Simpsons,” but before long we were “enjoying” Ryanair’s “hospitality” on our flight to Stansted.
Finally, I like to thank Andy for asking me on this jaunt, and for not looking too frightened at his driver who learned left hand driving on the job!!
Since its reached that time of the year, I’d like to wish both of my readers a very merry Christmas, and here’s to wherever we pop up next year.
Research on Heulva’s ground history from the excellent http://estadiosdeespana.blogspot.co.uk/