Planes, Spain and Automobiles – Delirium at Depor

Posted by Olly on November 9, 2004, 12:53:23 PM

We’d been looking forward to this one for weeks.  With the Mighty Reds never having been to Coruna before, this was uncharted territory for us.  After some discussion we decided on cheapo £25 flights to Santander, followed by the mother of all drives across north Spain to Coruna.  As a result, myself and Jim drag ourselves out of bed at 4.30 am to get to the airport in time.

Once aboard our luxurious and spacious Ryanair flight, thoughts immediately turn to a good hours kip.  Just as we’re settling down, we are treated to the excruciating sounds of a kid on its first flight, screaming like you wouldn’t believe.  This continues throughout the whole flight, rendering all attempts of getting to sleep useless.  Now this may sound harsh, but can’t they put kids in the overhead lockers with the rest of the luggage, or maybe put them in a mini-me sized soundproof astronaut suit?

At Santander airport we grab our Fiat Punto, pick up John and head out into Spain.  I’m driving, and Jim has the task of directing us there.  Fairly simple you’d have thought.  First roundabout, and Jim gets a little confused between his left and right.  A few miles down the road, and the first sign reads “Bilbao 96 km”.  Bilbao is an hour to the east of Santander.  Coruna is 6 hours to the west.  Doh!  A quick u-turn and we’re off heading down the motorway towards Gijon.  A quick stop for a sandwich, and I notice some clear liquid dripping from the bottom of the car.  Cue three lads stood over an engine, going “Hmm, well its not the radiator”, and “It’s defo not the brake fluid” sounding to all the world as though we know what we’re talking about.  After ten minutes we decide to chance it, and head off again.  Now, the first half of the drive to Coruna is motorway and very nice it is too.  The second half is a coastal road through small towns, coupled with windy single lane roads up through the mountains.  The scenery is fantastic but unfortunately the weather is not.  As a monsoon pelts down, we begin to have major trouble seeing the road, but somehow, a few hours later we enter Coruna.

Surprisingly for us we find the hotel with the minimum of fuss, and head out towards the beachfront to drink some much needed beer.   We find Samo, Phil and Levi and go for a few drinks in small bars full of locals.  Heading towards the ground we jump into a lively bar for a couple and have a good sing song with other reds, before walking up to the Riazor, a stadium that is located right on the edge of the town’s Riazor beach.  Up goes the banner facing our neighbouring Depor fans, and I squeeze between the fences to take a quick photo.  As one riot policeman comes towards me I give him a quick wink in an attempt to put him off, but unfortunately he’s not having any of it, and shows me the exit.  As we walk down the stairs though, he points me in the direction of our fans and lets me off.  Ta mate – won’t happen again honest!

The Irregulars have brought their huge banner with them, and hang it from the rafters above us.  This banner is massive and a real credit to those who made it.  Our end is covered with banners and flags as per usual and opposite us a few hundred other reds can be seen, their territory also marked out with banners and flags.  I’m feeling a little nervous, as Deportivo aren’t a bad team and we’d all heard stories of the intimidating atmosphere of the Riazor, and the wall of noise their fans make.  Well, to be honest we shouldn’t have had anything to worry about.  A lot of Depor fans didn’t bother to turn out, and those who did were very quiet.  The travelling reds on the other hand were singing from start to finish, and the atmosphere was fantastic.

Now I don’t usually write much about the game during these Euro aways, mainly due to the fact that I am often too drunk to follow it.  But this time, I made a conscious decision to stay sober so as to watch the game fully, and I sure am glad I did.  With Alonso on the bench due to a calf injury and Igor replacing him I’d be the first to admit I wasn’t too optimistic.  But fair play to the lad – he was immense, and bossed the midfield superbly, bursting forward whenever the need arose.  The match starts at a frantic pace, and within seconds Milan has a great chance to score, when he tries to take the ball round the keeper, when maybe lifting it over Mollina would have been the better option.  Hyypia makes some excellent interceptions, Crazy Legs and Josemi are superb in pressuring Depor’s wingers, and Milan is working extremely hard.

Within quarter of an hour, Riise puts in a great low cross and with us all screaming at Milan to get on the end of it, Andrade knocks it into his own net. 1-0! Cue bedlam, as all round us people are jumping up and down shouting, falling over seats and kissing the nearest person to them, before the loudest rendition of “Fields” in some time is sung.  Just before half time Riise has a great chance to make it two with his hammer of a left peg, but Mollina saves well, and so at half time we traipse off worthy leaders, and the travelling reds take a well earned break.  The second half is nail biting stuff.  We start a little slowly as Depor come out of their shell a bit, but with Crazy Legs on fire they’re never really going to score.  At the other end we miss a couple of chances, with Garcia the most guilty, failing to get a touch to take it round Mollina when clean through.  An hour later though I forgive him, as I relive his control on the back of his head to take it past a defender.  With the final whistle approaching, Kirkland plucks a header out of the air, as our hearts leap into our mouths, and then the sweet sound of the final whistle is heard, as Kopites everywhere dance round the ground singing Burning Ring of Fire.  Our first win in Spain for over 20 years, and one of the best wins in Europe for some time.  It is a fitting tribute to both Crazy Legs and Biscan, two players who I have given stick to previously on these pages, that as they warm down their names boom round the Riazor.

We leave the ground singing, and hop into the nearest bar desperate for a beer.  The singing continues for over an hour as beer after beer is sunk.  The Depor fans are gracious in defeat and those that we speak to wish us luck for the rest of our campaign, joining us in drinking to the Reds success.  We head to another bar in the older part of the town, which has been turned red for the day, and continue to sing through the early hours of the morning.  Three lads have come up with a brilliant Rafa Benitez song to the tune of the “La Bamba” which the whole pub is singing before too long.  Pete, having spent most of the game drunkenly swinging like a monkey from the rafters of the stand with a scarf wrapped round his head, falls asleep on a table, and so is woken by a strategic pint of water thrown over him.  After the wine and beer begins to takes its toll, we head out into the Spanish streets to find our way home.  Somehow we find ourselves in yet another bar where we listen to the locals tell us how great Liverpool is, whilst buying us more beer.  At around 5 in the morning, and having been up for over 24 hours, we manage to escape, get back to the hotel and fall asleep still grinning.

Awake a few hours later, we have a bit of breakfast, find Ross, our second hitchhiker for the journey back to Santander, and head off into rural Galicia.  Tempted by a different route home to see some of the coastline above Coruna, Ross states that he knows the way.  Half an hour later, and we find ourselves having to perform a three point turn in a builders merchants yard, while Ross tries to hide himself in the back.  The scenery was stunning, but after an hour and a half of driving on small windy roads, we noticed a sign stating that Coruna was only 60km behind us!  Eventually we reach the sanctuary of the motorway, and make good time as we head to Santander.  By now Jim is driving, and a pretty good job he does of it too.  Unfortunately, his notion of left and right is now shot to pieces sitting on the “wrong” side of the car, and so we are instructed not to use the words left or right when giving him directions.  Apparently we should be using the phrases “here” or “there” whilst pointing.  Each to their own.

Some 7 hours later we arrive in a small village just outside Santander and check into our hostel.  The girl we meet is probably the nicest woman in the world.  She’s been worried about us as it’s late, and is extremely disappointed that we won’t be staying any longer than one night as she has written down a long list of things we could do in area.  Jim decides that because of this, and possibly because she is also dead fit, he wants to stay longer and marry her.  We catch the train into Santander, and the first thing we notice is the number of beautiful women.  They’re everywhere.  Can’t wait for the redmen to play Racing Santander one day – I’ll be over in a shot.  We meet up with Lee, Ali and Brenda in a tiny pub in the old town for a couple of drinks, and as we’re discussing the game, this English lad walks in.  Behind the bar, is a young Spanish lad, who can’t speak English.  The English lad walks straight up to him, and shouts “Where’s busy?” Taken aback our Spanish friend responds with “Que?”, to which he receives another bark of “Where’s busy?!”, before walking back out.

We decide to grab something to eat and find a tapas restaurant that looks OK.  We fill our bellies with chicken, chorizo, squid, black pudding, peppers, garlic and bread, washed down with lots of wine and beer.  Another Lee and his mates turn up, and after paying the ridiculously cheap bill, we find a very basic student bar full of gorgeous girls just round the corner.  It would be rude not to, and so in we go.  A few beers later, and Jim finds a guitar to strum away on, and soon we’re all singing away again.  We head off again through the small streets of Santander find a few more bars and beers, and before passing out sensibly make our way back to our beds.  A great night, and surprisingly no venues of disrepute in sight!

Up early the next morning, we head off to the airport, a mere 2 miles away. There is an hour and a half before the flight takes off, leaving us plenty of time to fill up with petrol.  Pleased with our ability to make a flight on time, we encounter a minor problem – we can’t find a petrol station anywhere.  Every time we see one off the motorway, we take the next exit and the thing disappears!  In a blind panic now, we race into the airport, check in, race back out again, and do another round trip of the area trying to find some petrol.  With minutes to spare we find a station, fill up, and perform some crazy driving to get back to the airport, handing back the car keys with 2 minutes left to spare.  Well a Euro away wouldn’t be the same without a mad rush to the airport would it?

This trip was brilliant, the best since our Eastern European sojourns of last season.  The people in Northern Spain are all cracking, really generous and genuine, and I’d definitely come back here again.  Although a bit of nightmare to get to on the cheap, it was definitely worth the effort.

© Olly 2004

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