First – here’s something to listen to while you read.
A visit from Real Madrid usually makes Real Murcia season ticket holders suddenly more popular. Old aquaintences call out of the blue, the wife’s cousin’s brother sends a message, the normally aloof financial controller or HR boffin at work is suddenly your best mate….the chitchat always end with the same question…¿any chance of getting me a ticket? But it’s not just Real Madrid, the other powerhouse, Barcelona, would create a similar, but perhaps not quite so obvious, sudden recognition that you are in fact human and living.
It is unsurprising that these two, and especially Madrid, are so popular in Spain. They almost completely dominate sports news. The daily sports publications and radio programs, talk almost exclusively about these two. Indeed, the papers, although distributed nationally, have clear favor, and zero credibility – serious impartial sports reporting is hard to find, as even the serious daily rags’ hacks have clear preference. To give you an idea, not so long ago, TVE (state TV) opened their sports news section with the a detailed report on Cristiano Ronaldo’s movements – not because of an important upcoming fixture, no…..but because it was his birthday! Even local editions (such as our own La Verdad, La Opinion and El Faro) will carry Real Madrid and Barsa stories before anything about Real Murcia, as the readership is far more interested in the stars than anything local. You could say this is normal, as Real Madrid and Barcelona have almost exclusivity on the trophies – but other countries have few candidates, in England you can’t see far past Chelsea, Man Utd or Arsenal winning the title and the cup, yet coverage isn’t polarized, and attendances for Championship, League One and League 2 fixtures dwarf their counterparts in Spain by a massive margin.
There is a pride in supporting the local side, a belief that one day your boys will make the dream come true, that is missing in the majority of football lovers in Spain – they need the silverware, need the best players on their side, must have the nonstop coverage, require guaranteed glory and feel uncomfortable going against the tide. Support for a local unsuccessful side is ridiculed rather than admired as honest. I can see that in Murcia, we Peppermen, those with no “Blanco” (Madrid) or “Cule” (Barcelona) leanings, are becoming more and more vociferous in our annoyance at the comments and general sniggering from the sheep like gloryhunters that surround us. Often, before I can get a grip on what I am saying, I find myself snarling and barking like some kind of rabid dog. I don’t see the game as entertainment, I don’t need to see great play by great players….it’s tribal….it’s the beers with the lads and shared dreams and disappointments. Counting a title for a team 400 miles away as if it were your own, just seems so artificial and false.
But there is worse to come…..the behavior of a percentage of these people is beyond belief.
Imagine…..a Saturday in (I think it was) May, 2008. Real Murcia, who after a decent start in Primera, had gone into meltdown (I won’t go into all the reasons, but some of the blame is with the sheep and their journalists), and lost 3 – 2 at Racing Santander after being 0 – 2 up. This result confirmed relegation to segunda. The very same day, just 2 hours later, Real Madrid were crowned champions for the….who cares….thirtysomethingth time. Was there respect for the local club? Was there fuck….the Redonda (the main square in Murcia - although it’s round) was simply awash with Real Madrid fans celebrating, dancing in the fountain, flags, scarves, horns, fireworks, unbridled joy. And not just a few. There were thousands. I can bet that 99.9% of them have never, never seen a Real Madrid game or been to the Bernabeu. And have never really suffered (When have Real Madrid ever had dodgy refereeing?). And 50% of them would be in the same fountain the next time Real Murcia get promoted.
At the same place, but in May 2006, just after the Arsenal – Barcelona Champions league final. I had been to a bar (in an Arsenal shirt) to watch the game with a few mates. I had to go near the Redonda to reach my car. It was complete chaos…again, cars honking, fireworks, flags…..so much joy, again, not a few people, literally thousands. A few patted me on the back….but…..one even wanted to have a fight! You….you monkey…..that have never even been near the Nou Camp or had dodgy penalty against you in the last minute of suffered relegation or a decade in a football desert….you want to fight me, with hundreds of dull Real Murcia and other hundreds of dull Arsenal games in the 80’s, and thousands of euros following my dull useless charges up and down the country? Me that can only dream of silverware, and you want to hit me you muppet? NO….I refuse to fight people with farmyard animal IQ’s (apart from being a coward!)
The duopoly is strong. Even from birth in Spain you are in danger of becoming part of it…..everyone has a uncle who sends Real Madrid pajamas. I took my son to football training last week and of 15 boys, 8 were in full Real Madrid kit, 2 in full Barsa kit.
My brother in law is a good case. So proud to be from Murcia, so pround of Murcia, the city, the region, everything about it….except one thing. “Yo….yo soy del Real Madrid”. And he can’t stand Real Murcia…..and there is only one explanation. Winning. And his sons are just as anti Real Murcia, despite my efforts. “Real Murcia don’t win” is the answer to everything…..and kids don’t understand reasoning about distance or anything else. Logic to a point…playgrounds are cruel places for anyone but Real and Barsa supporters – my own son knows this (see http://oneandonlyrealmurcia.blogspot.com/2010/06/murcia-are-s.html ).
Real Madrid’s last visit to Murcia was a case in point of what can happen. When the tickets went on sale, such was the rush of the wooly that soon enough the cheaper seats were gone. Cue incidents (see these photos), arrests and complaints. Real Murcia season ticket holders had no issue, and preference for tickets…..so it does have some small advantages. Real’s away support isn’t really away support. When you go to, say, Wigan against Chelsea, you know that the away support are Chelsea fans, normally club members or similar, that have come up from London. Real Madrid’s support at the NC last time was 90% from within 15 kilometers of the stadium. And celebrated wildly a goal against their local club when Robinho put Real Madrid ahead from a ridiculously offside position. Real Murcia equalized, and I could see that we were in the majority, which is great…..until, looking across at the “lateral” stand, you could see various Barcelona flags being waved furiously.
Consider what the proper Madrid based Real Madrid fans think of all the “peñas” from outside Madrid. Their president even said once that they should stop using Real Madrid as a blanket to comfort themselves with for the failings of their own local teams. They go to the Bernabeu once a decade, parade their Real Madrid flag with the name of their village, but the Madrileños just see them as silly bumpkins.
No doubt that for the cup game there will be queues, complaints……hundreds of adolescent girls and boys will crowd around the entrance to whichever hotel Madrid stay at. We will see Madrid shirts on Murciano backs. In the fondo Sur we will have "visitors"......but....they may get an earfull from me.
YOU BETTER WATCH OUT.........THERE MAY BE DOGS ABOUT......