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Supporting a smaller club. And the unusual relationship with transfer fees (27th July, 2017)

I didn't write anything for today. Unfortunately, that's what happens when life gets in the way.

I'm linking a Twitter TL that I wrote yesterday, talking about supporting a smaller club. You can read the original thread by clicking on the tweet below - it's more pertinent to fans of big clubs.


1/ I get confusing messages at times about why I support a small team. And I've seen others get this as well. And I thought I'd address — Sarthak Kumar (@Vallecanos1924) July 26, 2017
Otherwise, I've edited it below to remove the "come at me" style of writing - Twitter, essentially :D...

Supporting a smaller team helps you appreciate every player who stays for more than a year, every signing made, every youth player who aspires to be in the first team, every contract renewal, every goal, every point, every new manager - everything.

Even one season players are revered years after they have left. And the players feel that - for example one-season striker Larrive…
Recent posts

The history of the Bukaneros (26th July, 2017)

"I have only good words for the Bukaneros, I have been in Vallecas with so many different people (friends, family, coworkers...) and all of them were amazed by the way the Bukaneros transmit their support both the team and the rest of the crowd. They are the real supporters, they are always singing and cheering. It doesn't matter if the team is winning or losing.... Also, it's incredible how they support all the categories, you can go to a game from Rayo’s female team and they will be there with you, the same with the youth teams, if the alevín (10 and 11 years old kids) are playing a tournament, the Bukaneros will be there supporting - it's really amazing how they live and breathe Rayo Vallecano.

The Bukaneros are not only a hooligan group, they fight for something, they are committed with a lot of social actions and they have all my respect. Life is not just about football."

That was an interview with Daniel Kobe in yesterday's piece (read it here) as part of…

The Rayo aficionado - with Daniel Kobe (25th July, 2017)

You can follow Daniel Kobe on Twitter here.

A bit about yourself and your background

I'm 29 years old, I was born and raised in Aluche, a neighborhood in the south of Madrid. I work in IT support in a French company. I do like football since I can remember, also I do like to watch NFL games (Jets fan here) and play video games on my free time.

How long have you been a fan of Rayo and what made you support them in the first place?

In my family, everybody supports Real Madrid, so when I was a kid I did too. Anyway, one day I was in the car with my father listening to this famous sport program on the radio (Carrusel Deportivo), they were talking about the 2nd Spanish division and I heard the coolest name I have ever heard in my life - Rayo Vallecano. From that moment I always wanted to know about this team. At first, I only had information about the results, then I started reading the columns on the sports papers, watching televised games and so on…

Describe your first visit ever to Val…

Another new project! The Rayo aficionado - an introduction. And a little Getafe banter. (24th July, 2017)

I spent hours coming up with a name. I didn't want it to be the same. I wanted something that rhymes with Rayo. So welcome to my new project, the Rayo aficionado.

Obviously, this project is about interviewing Rayo fans. And obviously, this project is about bringing Rayo fans from around the world together.

But there is much more. Much, much more.

This project is about building this profile of the Rayo fan, capturing local and international similarities and differences in thought.

Not every Rayo fan is the same. Sure, most have something similar to say about Presa. Most love la vida pirata - to be fair, it's a spectacular display of passion. Most have only good things to say about Juande Ramos and Trashorras. And most consume Rayo news from similar sources.

But many topics divide opinion. Paco Jémez, for instance. Or Léo Baptistão. Or the way Rayo uses its youth teams. Or...you get the idea.

So welcome to the Rayo aficionado. I invite you to join me as I ask these questions - a…

The forgotten team - Compostela. And the end of a forgotten era - Sergio Pelegrín and Edu Albácar (23rd July, 2017)

Good, attacking, ferocious football. That's how I would describe Compostela and their undying philosophy. A brand of play that has seen Compostela rise and fall on the ladder of Spanish football.

Till 1986, Compostela were a stable mid-table third tier club representing the small regional town of Compostela in Galicia. However, that very summer they were relegated. They had attacked and attacked and fought with all their might, kicking and screaming, but went down - with the joint-worst defense in the league.

But giving up their attacking philosophy was out of the question.

It was that philosophy that saw them promoted to the third tier in 1990, promoted to the second tier the year after, and reach the top division in 1994. It was that philosophy that saw them lose the relegation playoff against Villarreal in 1998. It was that philosophy that saw them reach the quarterfinals of the 1999-00 Copa del Rey, defeating the likes of Numancia, Tenerife and Villarreal on the way - all whil…

La perspectiva de Almería - with James Dodd (22nd July, 2017)

You can follow James on Twitter here. If only because, as he says, "I'm now living in Sydney and I can guarantee that I am probably the only Almería fan that is living here!"

How long have you been a fan of Almería and what made you support them in the first place?

I started supporting Almería roughly five years ago as I have visited the area every year for over ten years as my family have a holiday home in the area and I decided to get behind the local club. I've always had an interest in Spanish football but I never really felt any real attachment to a club until I started learning about the club. My main team is Arsenal but wanted to follow a team in Spain that I had an association with and could take a keen interest in and that team was Almería.

Describe your first experience of watching Almería play?

Whilst Almería were enjoying their first season in La Liga I was able to watch them from the UK as they were often on TV when they played the big teams. It was alway…

New Facebook page! The 2008-09 Rayo stories (21st July, 2017)

That's right!

Give the Facebook page a like here for updates on blog posts and sneak peaks on future posts!


A while back I spoke to NUFCBlog.co.uk about Mohamed Diamé and how at Rayo he developed into the most sought-after prospect in world football:

"They had Danny Drinkwater – we had 33-year-old club legend and pass master Míchel. They had Christian Fuchs and we had 39-year-old left-back Carles Llorens. They had Kasper Schmeichel and we had David Cobeño. They had Mark Albrighton and we had Jofre. They had Riyad Mahrez and we had Miguel Albiol. They had N’Golo Kanté, and we had Mohamed Diamé. And while each of those players have stories that are worth sharing, the last one sticks out the most."
Now that I've spoken about Mo Diamé, it's time.
Here are the other stories.

"It was an agreement between clubs. What happened was that I did not want to leave, I was very comfortable at Rayo; we were going to play in Europe and I wanted to stay in Vallecas. I identifi…

La perspectiva del Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa - with El Periscopio (20th July, 2017)

You can follow El Periscopio (aka Fernando Díez) on Twitter here.

A bit about yourself and your background

I'm a Spanish lawyer, 36 years old, married and in love with sports in general!

How long have you been a fan of Cultural Leonesa and what made you support them in the first place?

Since the 1994-95 season, in the Third Spanish division. I went to the stadium with some classmates, and from the first moment I saw them I felt that this was my team.

Describe your first experience of watching Cultural Leonesa play?

My first experience was the feeling that this team represented me, me and my people, my city, my culture… everything.

To an outsider - how would you describe Cultural Leonesa's playing style, what it means to be a fan of the club, and what it means to be a player of the club?

Rubén de la Barrera is a very young coach, and his style is very attractive. The team moves the ball very fast, and the attack players move his position very often.

This style is new at the club, b…

La perspectiva del Real Zaragoza - with Magnus Skjeltorp (19th July, 2017)

You can follow Margus on Twitter here.

A bit about yourself and your background?

I'm a 27 years old Norwegian from outside Oslo. I grew up there and started to follow Spanish football back when I was 13 years old. I've worked as a freelance journalist since 2008, and now I live in Spain - right outside Málaga.

How long have you been a fan of Zaragoza and what made you support them in the first place?

Since 2004. I saw the Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid, where they won against the odds.

Describe your first experience of watching Zaragoza play?

My first visit at the stadium wasn't until 2011 against Real Sociedad. Hélder Postiga scored his famous chilena in that game!

To an outsider - how would you describe Zaragoza's playing style, what it means to be a fan of the club, and what it means to be a player of the club?

Their style is intense. A lot of pressure when in defense and at times too fast forward. The style requires a quick striker who can run deep behind the d…

La perspectiva de Córdoba - with Adrián Fernández (18th July, 2017)

You can follow Adrián Fernández on Twitter here.

How long have you been a fan of Córdoba and what made you support them in the first place?

I've been a fan of Cordoba since I started to get interested in football, when I was a kid. The reason I follow the team is because it is from my city, and since I started to follow them, I felt very represented.

Describe your first experience of watching Córdoba play?

I do not remember the first time very well, because I was small, but I remember the relegation to the Segunda B (third division) in 2005. It hurt a lot, and it was at that moment when I felt that I loved Córdoba CF.

To an outsider - how would you describe Córdoba's playing style, what it means to be a fan of the club, and what it means to be a player of the club?

Córdoba has a very changing style of play. It depends on each rival. To be a player of Córdoba means not to surrender and fight until the end (we ascended to La Liga in the 93rd minute), and to be fan, the same thing. …

A new project! Las perspectivas - an introduction. (17th July, 2017)

I'm on a search.

I'm not searching for an answer. I'm searching for a profile, a painting of the football fan, a sculpture of the various complexities of supporting a club in Spain.

In my previous project, I tried to capture that. The Hinchas y Jugadores project succeeded in bringing very different stories - those of fans, writers, players and coaches - together. But no story is complete - there will always be something left unsaid.

Being a fan of a club is more than just a commitment. It is a way of life. And while it would be impossible to capture everything in one article, there are some basic questions that we often forget to ask.

Think about a club. Now, try answering the following questions about the club: What sets it apart? What sets the fans of that club apart? Does its board support its ultras? Do those ultras even think about themselves in political terms?

I know as little as you do. And I want to find out more - much, much more.

This project is open ended - it h…

150 days of madness. A look back (16th July, 2017)

I had something else to write for today, but I decided to shelve it for another day. Because yesterday marked 150 days since I started daily blogging. Today is 151.

150 days ago, things were very, very different...

16th February, 2017. 

My palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. 
My brow is tense, my hand is anything but steady. 
My head is spinning, the decision that I'm making 
is major, is intense, is everything, is all or nothing.

Excuses come in - where will I find the time?
Will I ever get drained and pained by this uphill climb?
What may I find, how will I keep up the grind?
Will anyone even listen to what I have in my mind?

My head, filled with dread, tried to look ahead
Tried to see that some stories just deserved to be read
That other people would read what I had to say
As long as I said it, and just started it today

No delaying and stalling and dallying was gonna work
I had to start today and hopefully someday see the perk
I had to share, and dare and bare and lose myself in the…

Yuri, Igor and Charles - The Brazilian football family (15th July, 2017)

And you thought you could escape these days...

But hold on! This one in particular is special. It's a collaboration with Ponferradina fan Chris Pidgeon, who has made an appearance on this blog before (here).

I enjoyed working on it and collaborating with Chris. And I hope you enjoy it too.

It's the story of three Brazilian cousins who "made it" in Spain - Charles, Igor and Yuri. I talked about the unlikely rise of Charles despite the odds, and Chris talked about Yuri and what he means for Ponferradina fans.

It was published on my other blog here, and on Chris' blog here.



The Silly Season Accumulator - part 5. And actual Rayo developments (14th July, 2017)

My new series, called the Silly Season Accumulator, lists all the rumors that have ever been mentioned on the internet about Rayo. Yes - all of them. Just to show you how ridiculous this machine is - a machine that creates meaningless content masquerading as journalism.

If that's harsh, that's because the irony is that more rumors gives me more material. And that material gets in the way of the stories that matter.

Here's all the rumors for this week:

Álex Bergantiños is a target for Sporting, Tenerife and Rayo. Rayo have been linked with him in the past - but Sporting are in a better position to sign him.Alberto García is a target for Rayo. The Getafe goalkeeper still has two years remaining on his contract. A few days later, and talks of a loan deal are said to be all but confirmed. Edit: Done deal!Goalkeeper Alejandro Remiro (Athletic Bilbao) has been linked with a move to Rayo, Huesca and Cultural Leonesa.Răzvan Raț has taken a week off, and is reportedly negotiating his…

José Antonio Dorado - welcome back, and a belated happy birthday! (12th July, 2017)

Age is just a number. It's a number that can be used as an excuse for failure. It's an abstract standard, a barrier that we create to ourselves, a false benchmark of our abilities.

Many players have made their La Liga or even professional debuts late in their careers. And, if you've read this blog, you'll know I love these stories and writing about them.

But it's easy to forget how commonplace that story really is. So commonplace, in fact, that there's someone at Rayo that can relate. Someone who competed for Segunda and Segunda B teams till the age of 29. Someone whose versatility has meant a progression from left midfielder to left back, and finally to center back. And someone whose professionalism means he is still going strong at the age of 35 - it was actually his birthday day before yesterday!

Dorado was born in Córdoba, and began playing football in his hometown, passing through the lower categories of Córdoba. At a territorial championship, Real Zaragoza …

Rayo Tactics - the delicately perfect balance of Míchel's team (11th July, 2017)

I'm not going to pretend that I'm a know-it-all when it comes to tactics. But, hey, worth a shot right?



Faith is a funny thing.

Three games, one point, zero goals. Zero. Going into that Oviedo game, not even the most optimistic of Rayo fans expected anything out of that game. After such a demoralizing start to the season, even Faith had taken a vacation.

And in the darkest of times, somehow, from somewhere, Rayo found the strength to compete.


That fateful day, Rayo lined up a little like this, with Lass Bangoura playing instead of Santi Comesaña.



Three things became crucial in Míchel's Rayo side. First is the defense - specifically the full backs. Second is the role of the media punta. And finally, the crucial roles of wingers Ebert and Embarba.

It's a delicately balanced machine, that works well for these players.

Just look at the main attacking move for Rayo:



Ebert dribbles inwards with the ball. At the same time, Guerra moves slightly to the right. Who's covering f…

Álex Bergantiños - Barcelona's bane. And why I'm scared. (10th July, 2017)

Three of Álex Bergantiños' four goals in La Liga for Depor have been against Barcelona.

Here are those goals.

Scene 1: 12th May, 2017. Riazor.

In the 74th minute, a corner is whipped in from the left wing to the far post, and Jordi Alba, who is marking Álex, watches him rise above him and head the ball into the net.

And this just days after Barcelona overturned a 4-0 deficit and won 6-1 against PSG.



Scene 2: 20th October, 2012. Riazor.

Barcelona were 3-0 up after 17 minutes and cruising, but it went from 0-3 to 2-3 to 2-4 to 3-4 to 3-5 to 4-5 with 12 heart-stopping minutes left.

That game had literally everything: a ludicrously good Leo Messi hat-trick, a yellow card for the least offensive man ever - Juan Carlos Valerón, and the finest own goal ever by Jordi Alba - a delicate volleyed lob over his keeper.

And it was Bergantiños who scored the second for Depor to inspire the comeback.



Scene 3: 12th December, 2015. Camp Nou.

Barcelona are 2-0 up, and all set to maintain their 2 poin…

The 2003-04 season stories. And a great Alberto Bueno performace (9th July, 2017)

Imanol Etxeberria, in 2002, moved to Rayo Vallecano, replacing the departed Kasey Keller. In his first season he became the regular goalkeeper over veteran Julen Lopetegui (also from Gipuzkoa) who retired at the end of that campaign. In 2002-03 he was the starter for most games but was challenged by Sergio Segura, and the club was relegated after four years in La Liga.

Rayo suffered a second successive relegation in 2004 - in a chaotic campaign, Etxeberria played in eight matches at the beginning of the season under Lopetegui (in his first appointment as head coach) but was largely overlooked in favour of Segura by his successor Jorge D'Alessandro, who then brought in another goalkeeper, his compatriot Sebastián Saja, on loan. D'Alessandro was then replaced by Txetxu Rojo, who again had no place in his plans for Etxeberria - he was sent away from Rayo altogether and trained with Bilbao Athletic until the season's end.


There would be four managerial spells.

Julen Lopetegui…