A famous advert in Spain shows a young boy asking his father: "Dad,
why are we Atleti fans?" His father looks blank. There's no decent
answer, no logical explanation; it's nothing to do with gleaming
trophies and still less glamour. It's just part of you. Being an
Atletico is, another advert suggests, a special, unfathomable feeling,
something you can't shake off.
This time, Atletico's 90-year-old member No.1 explains how he gave up
smoking, red wine, spirits and a host of other vices because they were
"killing me", but he just couldn't give up his Atleti. "Atletico kill
me, but give me life," runs the slogan.
Well, they could hardly claim to be the best. And nor would they want
to (well, they would, but that wouldn't be the point), because Atletico
Madrid are the self-professed people's team, the truly Madrileño club,
proud of being irrational, convinced that their fans live the ups and
downs with far more intensity than their rivals from the plush end of
Atletico can seriously damage your health. They were born under a bad
sign, battlers whose hymn lauds "what a way to lose!" Their glory comes
not from their players but their fans; when they were relegated in
1999, they still regularly drew gates of over 50,000 – unthinkable at
Real. And yet Atletico are, in fact, Spain's third most successful club.
They won the double as recently as 1996 and, although they were
relegated to Second Division 'hell' within three years, the gallant
losers bit has been exaggerated. Atletico have boasted some superb
players, too, from Diego Simeone to Fernando Torres.
There is certainly something different about their fans, though. You
can feel it as soon as you step out of the Metro, south of the city
centre, to make your way to the Vicente Calderon, alongside countless
cheap, cheerful bars where fans decked in their famous red-and-white
stripes drink beer from plastic litre glasses.The atmosphere inside is
unquestionably among the best in Spain and Atletico feels like a real
football club, a community.
There is suffering and a sense of perpetual robbery – indeed, that's
almost the defining feature of being an Atletico – but there is also
much humour and passion and song, particularly song. It's certainly
worth the trip to hear the Calderon chant "Atleeeeeeeeeeeeti", if not
always for the football itself.
Part of the M30, Madrid's mentalist inner-city version of the M25,
runs right underneath the main stand of the 55,000-capacity Calderon, but driving
isn't a great idea – even if you make it alive, there's nowhere to
park. Far better to walk (20 minutes south from the Plaza Mayor) or,
better still, go by Metro to Vicente Calderon (which used to be called
Piramides). The journey takes little more than 10 minutes from the city
Club address Paseo Virgen del Puerto n67, 280050
Telephone (0034) 913 664 7070
For regular updates on the crazy world of Spanish football, see our blog La Liga Loca
FourFourTwo.com: News • Features • Interviews • Videos • Forums
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010