So, another decent result against a seemingly spirited Rotherham team. I use the word ‘seemingly’ because I was nowhere to be seen having booked a lads (old gits) trip to Barcelona a while back, and while the game was broadcast on some channels, all the Spanish drinking holes we went to had the Premier league on!

However, by the miracle that is the World Wide Web updates were easily acquired, plus texts came in from home ranging from ‘this is easy’ to ‘ we are hanging on’, just who do you believe?

It matters not now, an excellent three points still and after the miracle of the Norwich finale last Wednesday, we are now sitting nicely.

The Barcelona trip was not football free however, as we took in the mighty Espanyol versus Villareal. Espanyol are maybe the smaller of the two Barcelona clubs but they still compete with the big boys and have a passionate if somewhat smaller following. Villareal are a smaller club again and their 74 travelling supporters contributed nothing to what was a lively atmosphere.

Pre-match we had a wander around the pickpocket haven that is the Ramblas and my mind drifted back to a time in the not so distant past when several hundred of our own kicked a ball around the square while sampling the finest Spanish ale on way to the Camp Nou……..will we ever again I wondered?

Anyway enough of that though, what about Espanyol? Well they play in the newest stadium in Spain and attendances generally range from about 12.000, up to about 27,000, in the impressive 40,000 capacity stadium. It would seem that even when they play their hated neighbours, or the mighty Real Madrid, the capacity is still not ever reached.

As I said, the stadium is virtually brand new and far more impressive than the flat pack offerings occupied by the likes of Stoke, Middlesbrough etc, the steep seating ensures everyone gets an excellent view.

We opted for tickets just above the most passionate of home ends and for the first time I witnessed choreographed vocal support, led by a middle-aged ultra stood on a fence, microphone in one hand scarf in the other and two large speakers in close proximity so his leadership could be heard. For the whole game he and his followers never wavered, keeping up an impressive noise level with weird and wonderful chants, none of which we could understand of course.

However, it made for an impressive atmosphere in what turned out to be a half full stadium. Given the hard work put in by fans groups like Gallowgate Flags etc, I wondered whether this sort of thing would work in England…and in my opinion it would, as the vocal support was excellent!

 

espanyol

The game itself – it has to be said it was dull and ended in the most boring of 0-0 draws, though the home support never wavered…and when the middle-aged ultra needed a rest, he had a younger replacement on stand by!

The other noticeable thing about the stadium was the lack of stewarding or police, it was not needed at all, as seats were very easy to find and the 74 visiting fans behind a Perspex enclosure!

After the game we stayed around the ground for a few beers and witnessed first hand just how much the followers of Espanyol hate their more illustrious neighbours, as they cheered with lust each one of Celta Vigo’s goals as they carved out a three goal lead against a Messi-less Barcelona. Espanyol fans will indeed tell you that they are the real team from the city of Barcelona, proud to be Catalan but nothing in common with that other team!

From then it was back into the city with mission accomplished, where the bars showed that Celta Vigo had conceded two and a tight finish was on the cards,  cue a calamitous error by the Barcelona goalkeeper. We declined to cheekily cheer as there was a pro Barca intensity to those watching in the city centre.

So back to NE1 and another ridiculous international break, only salvation being that ‘he’, the man who  is indeed a legend in his own lunchbox, lost his dream England job for being too greedy. Yes you can add GREEDY to any you may already have for him!

The best manager Real Madrid never had is now surely finally confined to a place of laughable history, despite the 100% England record he will have added to his not so impressive CV

Just touching more on us, we are sitting nicely. A run of easier looking games could see us very healthy in another month, our strength in depth should ensure that when the going gets tough for others, we remain consistent.

We also have a good chance of progression in the league cup tie and sensible pricing should ensure another decent crowd, get yourself along if you can because you never know where this could end.

Our magnificent fans have now sold out Barnsley, PNE away will see another massive following, each and every away game is now a struggle for tickets and that is also great news.

At least the club is for once trying to meet demand by speaking to the home club – we could easily have sold in excess of 10,000 v Rotherham.

Happy days indeed.