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Visiting Vallekas - with Andrew Gillan (29th July, 2017)

A travel blogger's perspective on Vallekas!

Andrew Gillan is the founder of "Mis Viajes En Fútbol", a travel blog that explores stadiums ranging from popular to obscure.

His blog can be found here. You can follow the blog on Twitter here, and follow Andrew here.

A little bit about yourself and your background

I'm from Northern Ireland, but for the last few years I've been living in Spain and working as an English teacher, firstly in Galicia, but now in Andalucía. Previously I worked in sports journalism and did a lot of media work for my local club Coleraine FC.

What made you become interested in visiting football stadiums around Spain?

Really just a love of live football and seeing it in different places. If I travel somewhere for a weekend, I'll make those plans based around a match (or two if possible!)

What was the idea behind the blog Mis Viajes En Fútbol?

It's basically just an outlet for me to do a little bit of creative football writing and share a few of my experiences with other people. I enjoy writing free from the pressures of deadlines and word limits and if there's an audience for it, then that's great.

Describe your first visit ever to Vallecas and the stadium?

It was the start of March 2014, I was in Madrid for the first time and wanted to see a match. Having been priced out of the Madrid derby (I thought €90 for a ticket was a little unreasonable) Rayo v Valencia was the second-biggest show in town and the Sunday evening kick-off was perfect as far as my schedule was concerned. Rayo won the game 1-0 and it was pretty open and enjoyable, although I can't remember much about it beyond the fact that one of the travelling Valencia fans in the next section of the stand had been sufficiently impressed by the signing of Philippe Senderos to get his name printed on the back of his shirt.

I've been back on a couple of occasions since, both of which saw Rayo win 2-0. Obviously I'm something of a lucky charm for them!

How would you describe the fans in the stadium, and how intimidating is the stadium for opposition fans and players?

The atmosphere is genuinely great, although I've never sat particularly close to the ultras, the whole ground seems to get into the spirit of things. The atmosphere can definitely be intimidating for the opposition and seeing the home fans going and singing along to The Final Countdown after a goal is probably one of my favourite experiences at a Spanish game.

How excited or nervous are fans to see foreigners in the stadium supporting the club?

I've always been made to feel welcome there, engaging in a little bit of chat with. The people around me. Although on all three occasions I've been there I've noticed a lot of non-Spanish people and heard a lot of English spoken.

What is it about the stadium and the surrounding area that makes it different from others of similar size and stature?

I can't think of too many other three-sided stadiums in the upper levels of Spanish football anyway! I like the fact that you can feel close to the action from anywhere in the ground and that's something you don't always get, even at some smaller grounds. The area around the ground always seems buzzing before a game, with all the stalls set up outside and a lot of nearby bars.

How would you describe the ultras - the Bukaneros?

Noisy! They never seem to stop. I'd really hate to be an opposition goalkeeper down at that end of the ground for 45 minutes. I think they do a pretty good job of getting the rest of the ground involved as well.

I've heard that the club hires private security and they're known to be strict - do you see fans having a rough time sometimes, and how would you compare it to other stadiums in Spain?

I don't think it's too bad. At least I've never had any problems there as I tend to travel pretty lightly to games, rarely with anything more than a small bag.

Huge thanks to Andrew for taking the time to do this!




That Rayo 1-0 Valencia game was actually quite significant. 2nd March, 2014, and Rayo were in the relegation zone.

The signs were good - the week before, after a game against Sevilla, the Rayo fans asked the players to come out onto the field so they could cheer the players - a 1-0 loss didn't tell the story of a Rayo side that was unlucky to not win let alone lose.

But the points weren't adding up. Just 20 points in 25 games, and 19th in the table. They were the worst team in the league save Betis, who seemed to be in their own league. They were deep in the farolillo rojo as the Spanish phrase has it. The red light...

The Valencia game ended with the Rayo players smiling despite still being 19th in the league - those were three important points. And a confidence boost - what followed was a 2-3 win at the Anoeta, and then a wholesale destruction of Almería 3-1 at Vallecas.

Three consecutive wins that pulled Rayo out of the relegation zone for good.




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