Gareth Bales on us

It’s not often you get the opportunity to travel from one end of the footballing spectrum to another in just a few hours.  But today was one of those days.  After the highs of Lewes’s win at Wingate & Finchley yesterday it was a rude awaking at 3am for the trip to Madrid, on the first flight out of Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport.  So early was the departure that I had the BA lounge to myself for a good 15 minutes.  Still no Marmite though, but that is another story.  As the plane hugged the Atlantic coast of France I looked back on my previous trips to the Spanish capital, each memorable for different reasons.

9893199025_1e372f1884_b (2)In 1998, the Current Mrs Fuller and I made our first ever trip to Madrid on Debonair.  Remember them?  They flew from London Luton and went head to head with Easyjet for a number of years.  We pitched up in the middle of the Summer, not realising how hot Madrid could be.  A tour of the Bernabau raised temperatures even more, although the roof-top swimming pool of the Emperador was certainly a bonus (Madrid tip number 1: Not only an excellent rooftop pool but a huge buffet breakfast).

Two years later and we were back again.  In lieu of Christmas presents to each other we had invested in four consecutive weekends in European destinations that just happened to have four of the biggest football teams in Europe.  Milan, Madrid, Munich and Rome.  What an outstanding month.  Only it seemed such a good idea when we booked it in July.  Come January time and CMF was “just” five months pregnant.  Not handy for walking up to the top tier of the San Siro but she was a trooper and so I decided to treat her to a seat in the lower tier at the Bernabau.  Oh how she enjoyed sitting in the Fondu Sur with flares for company.  Nobody has ever mentioned that passive flare smoke is bad for unborn babies so that is OK.  In those days the East side of the stadium only had three tiers, rather than the five elsewhere.

Four years later and I was back to help Spain celebrate their 500th fixture.  And how were us party guests treated?  With water cannons in the streets around the ground, unprovoked baton assaults on the fans in the stadium and the racial abuse of Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips.  The actions of the Spanish police went unpunished although their FA were fined $87,000 for failing to act on the abuse from the crowd. So that makes it all alright then. Continue reading

La Beuna Vida

After a totally depressing week watching the daggers lose again who can blame Brian Parish and Dagenham Dan for wanting another change of scenery.  So as a treat we sent them off to Madrid to take in a weekend of La Liga action.

Booked several months ago, I am torn as to whether this is a good time to be going or not. At least we will know how we get on before our first game of the weekend starts. It is a tough choice; jet off for a couple of games in the sunshine, or watch your team (possibly) struggle in a game they simply have to win. There is a part of me wishing I was staying in the UK.

Before we get any further, one quick thing; did you know that, on an Android phone, when you try to type in Madrid, it offers the word “masturbated” as well? Honest, its true.

As with most of the airlines that don’t allocate seats prior to boarding, the crowd starts to build up early for the scramble to the departure gate. I had to stop myself doing a pit walk, a la Martin Brundle, because once the gate number appeared, it was like the start of a grand prix. As we approached the first corner, I was certain that we would have at least one coming together. After all, that’s why most watch formula one, isn’t it?

The flight out is also made more eventful by the presence of about forty Spanish school-kids, which means that, as one fellow traveller remarks just as we are about to board the plane, this could be a painful flight. Luckily, it isn’t too bad, and despite leaving Gatwick late (because the fuel truck hadn’t shown up in Madrid on an earlier flight), we land in Madrid just after the scheduled time, and about forty five minutes after landing, we are safely ensconced in our hotel. Let the football begin! Continue reading

So that is why they are one of the richest club in the world!

Deloitte Money Football League 2012

The Deloitte Sports Business Group presents the Football Money League 2012

What is the most you have ever paid for a ticket for football? An official one, mind, not one from a tout. £50? Certainly not if you follow your team away from home and have been to the Emirates, Stamford Bridge, White Hart Lane or even in the nPower Championship at Upton Park recently where £50 will get you entry and not even a sniff of a bottle of Emirates water or pie and mash in East London. What about for a cup final? The FA think fans will bend over backwards to be shafted for these tickets but rarely do they go into three figures. Continue reading