Betis and Dresses

Posted by Olly on September 27, 2005, 11:14:08 AM

It’s 8pm the day of the game.  We pull up outside the Estadio Manuel Ruiz de Lopera and I clamber out of a horse and cart, holding an empty bottle of rum and wearing something resembling a flamenco dress.  How the f*ck has this happened?!

I arrive at Stansted airport on Sunday with my girlfriend’s words ringing in my ears – “Make sure you bring me home a present”.  For the first time I’ve been instructed to bring her home something other than a headache and kidney pains.  Finding Plum and Billy in the bar we settle down to watch English cricket fans celebrate bad light as though they’ve seen a rather pendulous streaker, and enjoy a few of the airport's finest beers. As our flight is called, Plum brings out two bottles of Spanish wine, opens them, recorks them and puts them back in his bag. An hour later and we are sipping our Rioja whilst the Ryanair cabin crew try to flog us seven pound quarter bottles of plonk.

Landing at Jerez we jump into a taxi to take us to our hostel. Hurtling down the narrowest of cobbled streets at 60 miles per hour we find our humble home for the night, drop off our bags and head out in search of beer. Finding a couple of bars we settle down, and after asking a couple of Jerez beauties the best place for late night drinking on a quiet Sunday night we find ourselves in a lively bar full of scooter riding lads and fine young women. Immersed in our new surroundings we try out our pigeon Spanish, using as many hand signals as we can get away with, whilst becoming friendly with the bar staff in the hope of some free Rio Pepe.

As midnight turns to 3am, I fall asleep on the bar whilst Billy wanders round taking photos of the sleeping beauty and other, rather more attractive, scantily clad objects. Surprisingly enough I cannot remember much else of the evening, apart from attempting to find a beer on the way home in a toilet factory that had opened for the morning shift. I am fairly certain that falling asleep in bed wasn’t too much of an issue.

After an hour long train journey we arrive in Seville the next morning. Dropping off our bags in the new hostel, and in serious need of a couple of alcohol free hours, we take a walk round this beautiful city. There are tiny cobbled streets leading off every main avenue, and large majestic churches at every corner. And pubs everywhere. Wandering up the main shopping street and past the huge Puerto de la Baptista (an enormous cathedral), we walk past the university and eventually reach the river near the bull ring. With temperatures nearing 36 degrees we collapse by the river for some liquid refreshment in the shade.

A couple of hours later, and having done a little more sightseeing, we find ourselves back at the Puerto de la Baptista. Plum, having printed out his usual bar guide, is intent on finding a particular pub where you can drink the local Cruzcampo beer all day for just 10 euro. Fat chance! We walk up and down these little tiny streets for half an hour trying to find this drinking haven, until eventually we find it at the fourth time of asking. It’s closed.

After ridiculing Plum we jump into the nearest pub for a few beers and manage to catch the end of the Ashes. A TV crew asks for a few words which I politely decline.  Seconds later I turn round and find Plum singing to them watched by a bemused, but very attractive, anchor girl armed with a microphone. Lee, Ali, Sarah, Brenda and Christine find us a couple of hours later and are soon dragging us out in search of cocktails. Finding a suitable pub we settle down to enjoy one too many long island ice teas (beer became the ”chaser “ for a while) whilst catching up and inevitably reminiscing over a certain night in May.

As the night wears on, and our vision starts to blur we set off in search of Pete and the lads. After what seems likes hours we bump into them outside another lively bar, surrounded by reds with a few Seville fans hanging around for the party.  A few more beers, and some friendly banter with our Spanish friends and I realise I’ve lost Plum. Then I hear a rather angry sounding bloke shouting “Not the leg mate – get off the leg!” Plum is slumped outside the bar by the window ledge, and has wrapped his arms round some bloke’s leg falling asleep. And the bloke isn’t happy.  Every time he shrugs Plum off, he feels round aimlessly for a while trying to find his security blanket, until “bingo” he finds someone else to wrap his arms round.

The next day we wake up starving, and immediately set off in search of some tapas. A few minutes later and we are sat at a street side café devouring plates of garlic stewed bull’s tail, garlic tuna, garlic potatoes, garlic tomato salad, garlic sausage, garlic bread. Bloody garlic everywhere. But it’s delicious and after 30 minutes of solid eating, not only do we stink, but we’re also stuffed. Feeling a little worse for wear after the previous nights exertions we decide we need to relax, and so head up to Sevilla’s football ground and to find Pete’s hotel. With a roof top pool we have found our home for the afternoon. From the top of the hotel you can see right over the city – a fantastic view, spoilt, only slightly, by the sight of a sunburnt Bungle clambering out of the pool wearing just his pants! No shame!!

We decide on taking a closer look at Sevilla’s ground, the Esyadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, and wander round in the hope that one of the many doors will open. Bingo – we find an unlocked door and walk in. It’s a pretty good ground and looks huge from the inside as it doesn’t have a roof. No need I guess with this sort of weather.  I read somewhere recently that 10% of the population of Seville are season ticket holders at either Betis or Sevilla, a figure not matched anywhere else in Europe. After a few photos we turn round just in time to see a woman walking out of the door and sliding a bolt across it.  F*ck!! Screaming at her, she unlocks the door and appears slightly surprised to see three lads running at her begging to be let out. Would have been fairly ironical to miss the Betis game due to being stuck in the home of their local rivals.

Deciding that we need supplies we venture in to the supermarket next door and stock up on all the essentials – water, ice, rum, coke, cheesecake, pistachio nuts and Babybels – before returning to the pool for a swim and soak. Ahh this is the life. After a few hours, and with the first signs of sunburn appearing we head off back to the centre of the city and meet up with Aidan, Bucharest John and Nick in a pub just behind the cathedral. A good few reds have already started on the beer and soon the songs are flowing, with a number of Beatles numbers ringing out.  The other lads, including Dan and Paul, find us and we have a bit of friendly banter with some Betis fans.  It suddenly dawns on me that this is my last evening in Spain, and I still haven’t got the missus a present. She’s going to have me balls for breakfast!! Leaving the lads for a little while I wander round a few of the small tourist shops trying to find a suitable present, until my eyes land on something perfect - an apron in the style of a flamenco dress. My drunken mind immediately springs into action:

“She’ll love it” – drunken mind.
“Are you sure?” – weakening sensible mind.
“Of course I’m sure. I know what she likes!” – drunken mind.
“I’ll have one of those please” – fully confident Olly.

I go back to the lads, full of pride with my purchase. After being asked to model it, everyone falls around in laughter. Thinking about it now, I was wearing a dress. Aidan and Plum immediately want one (Aidan’s missus is mates with mine, and if she doesn’t get a present he’ll be in even more trouble than me, whilst Plum just likes wearing dresses), and return shortly dressed up.

Belgian Nico and Johnny Mac enquire about our new found attire, and race off to get one as well. Soon enough there are five of us prancing round the streets singing, beers in hand, aprons round waists!! Plum starts salivating as he spies a guitar and upon receiving it starts strumming away as more and more songs ring out. What the Spanish lads must have made of a dress wearing Liverpool fan playing the guitar whilst a few other dress wearing drunken fools dance around singing at the top of their voices, we’ll sadly never know.

With time ticking, we all decide to head to the ground. About 15 of us head to the cathedral in the hope of securing a taxi, but there aren’t any available. What are we going to do now? We can’t walk – it’s miles. We all turn around, and I’m sure instantly came to the same conclusion – Horse and Cart!! Squeezing into 3 horse and carts we ask the driver Pedro to take us to the ground, and we set off at a slow trot through the narrow streets of Seville.

As we leave the city centre behind us we begin to pick up speed and suddenly our convoy erupts into a chorus of “Ring of Fire”. A bottle of rum appears and the songs continue, waving at the locals, high-fiving Betis fans and blowing kisses at the local women. Brilliant – and without doubt the best way I’ve ever travelled to a game. Certainly beats the 3 hour bus rides in May!  Half an hour later and we clamber up to the clouds to take our positions in the away end – there is actually a better view of the sunset over the city from up here than there is of the pitch! – and watch us gain a valuable opening three points.

After the game, and feeling that a celebratory drink is in order we start the walk back to the city centre. This takes ages, mainly due to being stopped every 50 metres by amateur photographers wanting a snap of the 3 muskateers in dresses. Eventually we hail a cab and escape back to our pub, where we all sit in the cobbled streets drinking more Cruzcampo with the odd Sangria thrown in as a toast to our very own little Spaniard.  As the night wears on, we’re herded into a small bar to stop us from waking the neighbours and sing a few songs for the Betis fans, as they sing a few of their own to us. One particular lad feels the need to scream “Betttttis Betttttis” at the top of his lungs every 10 minutes or so, but other than that we have another cracking night. A guitar comes out again, and an old bloke plays a few Spanish tunes to huge applause until, at 5 am, we are made to leave.

Having to get up two hours later to make our train to the airport, it came as no surprise that we miss it. And the next one. But then a European away wouldn’t be the same without the stress inducing mad rush for the plane at the end would it?

Oh, and she didn’t like her present.

© Olly 2005

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