The real-life tales of a football writer
After finishing fourth in the league in Barcelona, Manchester La Fianna play our final game of the season on Saturday.
Tomorrow, we set sail for a friendly against the U19s of third division SD Eivissa at their 6,000 capacity stadium in the glorious Ibiza Town – the antithesis of the dire San Antonio.
We’ll take a strong side but, after last year’s post-season game in Mallorca, my expectations of us playing well are low. Then, the team arrived 24 hours before the game and went straight on the beer. Until 5am. The pre-match warm up consisted of watching players scoff bananas and down as much water as possible.
Playing on a lush grass pitch overlooking the sea, we went 1-0 up in the second minute and thought it would be a stroll. Until we shipped six goals as the former Barca and current Falkirk midfielder Arnau Riera ran the show. He hails from Mallorca and was playing for his dad’s team.
A consummate professional, he’d already started a solo pre-season routine, while our captain was vomiting by the side of the pitch because of excessive alcohol consumption. We got battered, until we persuaded Arnau to swap sides for the second half.
The timing of the match is good as Ibiza’s clubs throw their opening parties this weekend. I wrote a piece on S.D. Eivissa - the white island’s main team last year - when their sporting director, an Andorran international, had copies of FourFourTwo stacked in a neat pile on his desk. And I was happy to accept an invitation to play a friendly – though thankfully not against their first team.
Ibiza may attract millionaire football stars from Ronaldinho to Raul, but most come to party rather than play. The Balearic island isn’t a football hotbed, but S.D. Eivissa were promoted to Spain’s regional third division last year.
Part of the reason for their success is tourism. It ensures that Ibiza’s economy is strong and businesses which include the biggest discos, are always keen to curry favour with the local authorities. A way of doing this is to support the island’s football teams.
Pacha, one of the biggest club brands in the world - used to be Eivissa’s main sponsor and still have a prominent advertisement at the stadium. Amnesia is a sponsor too. Discos support other smaller Ibercino clubs: Space sponsors San Antonio, DC-10 backs San Jordi while Amnesia’s money also assists San Rafael.
It is S.D. Eivissa who are making the headlines though, after they won their first Balearic league title - in Spain’s fourth tier - in 15 years with crowds as high as 3,000 last year.
Eivissa fans finally have something to shout about
“People associate Ibiza with discos, not football,” Luis Elcacho, the affable coach of S.D. Eivissa told me. “Hopefully that will change after what’s been happening.”
Gerard Pique, the former Manchester United defender and new Barcelona signing, found out that we were going to Ibiza and said: “I’m in Ibiza and Wayne Rooney will be there for his stag-do this weekend. Rio is coming too. I’ll come along to your game, but I won’t be allowed to play in case I get injured.”
He’s a good lad, but the real reason he won’t play is because we’d never let anyone with a Marge Simpson/Kim Jong-II style bouffant wear the sacred shirt of Manchester La Fianna.
We’d break our ‘no-Scouse’ rule to give Rooney a run out, mind. The white Pele would be well suited to a game in the white island.
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