Faced with a free weekend of football, our man behind the very successful Daggers Diary, Brian Parish and Dan Campbell headed off to Barcelona for a weekend of football.

When Dagenham Dan and I were on our way back from Qatar in January, the idea of another trip to Barcelona to watch a weekend of football came up. We went through the fixture list, and decided that we would have to wait until our season had ended before we headed out  to Spain. Unfortunately, after the Daggers relegation last weekend, this trip was going to be a welcome distraction from our end of season disappointment.

We’ve been here a few times before. Aside from a couple of visits to watch England play against Andorra in the Olympic Stadium, we generally manage to get a couple of games in whenever we visit. Aside from the obligatory game at the Camp Nou, the local area has quite a few third and fourth division teams in and around the city. There are four in the third division alone, with three on the city wide metro, the fourth (Sabadell) being a thirty minute train journey from the centre. In the fourth, it’s pretty much the same kind of story.

One of the quirks of Spanish football is that kick off times are not generally announced until about a week or so before the game is due to be played. In England, we like to know way in advance about our games, but not on the Iberian Peninsula. The only game before our trip to Peterborough that had been confirmed was the Barca B game against Las Palmas, which was handy as neither of us had managed to get to a game at the Mini-Estadi. After the post-mortem at work on Monday morning, by lunchtime, Barcelona’s game against Deportivo had been announced as a 9pm start, which meant two games on Sunday. This became three, when CE Europa’s fourth division game against Pobla de Mafumet was confirmed as a mid-day start. So, all this meant a day of sight-seeing on the Saturday, and then a whole day of football on the Sunday, which seemed like a pretty good way to get over the dreaded drop.  We could have had a fourth (this one being on Saturday evening) in the Catalan Premier League, but with a 5pm start and a 40 minute train ride (and 30 minute walk) each way, it wasn’t one that we were too concerned about attending. A good job really, as it started to pour down, just at the time we would have been leaving. Still, we can always save that for next time.

Game 1: CE Europa v Pobla de Mafumet, Estadi Nou Sardenya
Our first game of a very busy Sunday was in the north west of the city. Europa went into this game with no chance of making the play offs, while Pobla had a slim chance of winning the league. This would all depend on results elsewhere, but at just €10 to get into the stadium, it felt rude to pass up the chance to attend. Plus, it’s another new ground for us both. The forecast for Sunday had been for the occasional shower, so we took rain jackets with us, in that scout-like “be prepared” kind of way. Of course, when you take stuff with you “just in case”, it invariably means that you won’t use whatever you took, and this turned out to be the case. Bright sunshine and a cloud free sky greeted us when we left the hotel for the twenty minute metro journey to Alfons X station. Europa is a fourth division team, who celebrated their centenary in 2007; I know this because the signs are still up all over the place. To be going for a century is an impressive feat, particularly when you consider that the official attendance for the game is given at 600. Continue reading