El Camino de La Liga

Welcome to El Camino de La Liga

The challenge: to visit every club in La Liga and see a match in their stadium in one season. That means 20 teams in 38 weeks.

The reason: to see more of Spain, to learn more about Spain, to meet new people and to see some good football.

Bienvenido al Camino de La Liga

El desafío: visitar cada club de fútbol de La Liga española y ver un partido en su campo en una sola temporada. Eso significa 2o equipos en 32 semanas.

La razon: ver más de España, aprender más sobre España, conocer gente nueva y ver buen fútbol.

View Spanish football stadiums in a larger map

Red = Visited Blue = Still to visit

Friday, 5 March 2010

Pucelanos, Pulmonía and Purple

Castilla y León is the biggest of the Spanish regions but it only has one team in the Primera Division, Real Valladolid. They are the only one team who are either brave enough or pijo (posh) enough to wear purple. However, if we go on reputations, then it probably has more to do with the second reason.

Valladolid is the capital of Castilla y León, the region between Madrid and the north coast of Spain. It may be the largest region but it has a small population, only 2.5 million people. It’s not a region of big cities and heavy industry but predominately of small villages and traditional pastimes. The capital has earned the nickname of fachadolid due to its conservative, somewhat pro-Franco views. In Spanish the world facha describes someone with a very conservative attitude.

This description of Valladolid came from two fellow Castellanos Leoneses, one from Burgos and the other from Segovia. It’s certainly true that Valladolid is a far cry from Andalusia. The city is calm, clean and quiet and the people speak clearly. In fact, it is from this region that the Spanish language is said to derive and it’s alleged that the best, most correct Spanish is spoken in Salamanca, one of the region’s main cities.

As well as being famous for its linguistical influence, the region is also famous for its good food and wine. Having visited the region several times, I can say that it’s up there with the best Spain can offer. So it may be famous for language, food and wine but one thing it certainly isn’t famous for is football.

As I said earlier, Real Valladolid is the region’s only representative in Primera Division. They are also the region’s most successful team, which to be honest isn’t saying much. Real Valladolid have never won a league title or even the Spanish cup. Their most successful season ever was finishing seventh, under the stewardship of none other than Rafa Benitez. Currently though, their stay in Primera Division is in real threat as they languish in the relegation zone.

Their 26,000 seater stadium, Estadio José Zorrilla, is a unique ground with its moat around the pitch. Incredibly this stadium was built for and played venue to world cup matches during the 1982 tournament. Their stadium has also earned the knick name of El Estadio de la pulmonía, which translates as the stadium of pneumonia, due to the fact that it can get very cold in winter.

Well, it certainly wasn’t cold when I visited, it was one of those nice, dry, sunny but fresh Spanish February days. With some good food and wine in me, I was looking forward to the match. The atmosphere in the ground was decent for a winnable match against Real Mallorca. The Pucelanos, as the Valladolid supporters are known, were getting behind their team and the 16,500 who turned up were rewarded when they took a second half lead. In fact, this season the club got a record number of season ticket holders, with 18,600 people signing up. However the lead only lasted 20 minutes as Real Mallorca hit back to equalize. From then on the nerves set in and Real Mallorca unsurprisingly went on to the score the winner. The second Real Mallorca goal was enough for most of the crowd and the stadium started emptying rapidly. It seems the pucelanos are as fickle as their reputation suggests.

Either way, it’s a shame to say it but Real Valladolid look like a team destined for relegation and both the players and supporters seem to have reached the same conclusion. Perhaps some people won’t miss them but I think it’s a shame for a region to lose its only representative, even if they do wear purple.

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