Skip to main content

Why I don't want Rayo Vallecano to get promoted to La Liga (11th August, 2017)

The cameras were on and Barcelona were coming to Vallekas. The Rayo players came from the metro, as always, with some fans walking to the stadium with them as if they were best mates.

Later, out came the Barcelona bus. The players emerged from the bus, like they were going to a music video shoot. A crowd, tightly controlled by security, cheered for the players.

Their eyes protected by sunglasses, their ears covered with headphones to drown their senses - the players probably never even noticed the crowd. They probably never saw, or even understood, these working people.

After the game, the Rayo players went to the pub, discussed the game with passionate supporters, connected with fellow residents. They were friends. Family. And they all suffered together.

They suffered together when players weren't being paid for months in 2010, when they had to depend on friends and family members to survive. They suffered together when Rayo nearly went out of business in the Segunda B. They suffered together when Rayo went back to the Segunda last year. And they will continue to suffer.

I want that.

It's a terrible thing to say, but as much as a part of me wants more recognition for the club and its wonderful players, I want us to suffer. Together. Because in La Liga we lose that humility - even Rayistas like Antonio Amaya start driving fancy cars and get arrested for topping 234 kilometers per hour. But also because being in La Liga we lose relevance - we only matter when Barcelona and Real Madrid come to town. Or their B teams. So much so that AS once called us the Barcelona for humble people.

No. Just no. We are not a humble version of Barcelona. We are Rayo. When a goal is scored the stadium roars. “The Final Countdown” booms from the speakers. The fans never stop cheering - not even during the 15-minute break - and, whatever the result, will not stop bouncing.

This is our club, not just of Vallekas but from Vallekas. Independent of Madrid, left-wing in a right-wing city, against the demise of football, pro-immigration and beautiful football from start to finish. A lightning bolt in our logo, Republican ideals in our hearts and freedom in our souls, we are the last of the barrio teams.

THAT. THAT - is Rayo. And the struggle to preserve that identity must continue.

Struggling to be in La Liga is not a struggle. A fight, certainly - a tough one at that. But not a struggle. Struggling to stay in professional football certainly is. It's emotional, and crazy, and very real.

It's what football truly is about. An expression for life - the struggle to remain afloat day by day. The possibility of working hard every day and seeing no reward. No entitlements, no patronisation, no handouts. Just ordinary people at an ordinary club leading an ordinary life.

Ironically, the fight to remain that way will make us extraordinary. And I hope we do.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Non-league Incider: Cray Valley Paper Mills 4-4 Punjab United Gravesend

Last game: 9th August: St Helens Town 3-0 Atherton Laburnum Rovers
After ripping up my groundhopping calendar, mostly because I was determined to avoid overnight travel, and partly due to other commitments, there was a period of time where non-league football took a backseat.
But that period did not last long. Because of course it didn't.

Secretly, I'd loved travelling over ten hours back-and-forth to watch some 10th division football. And this was 9th division football in London.
When I had gone to East Dulwich exactly a week back, I had commented on how the amount of graffiti struck me as I watched from on board a southeastern train. I was going the exact same way, but much further this time - then I had stopped at Denmark Hill, now I would have to go six stations further. The graffiti I had thought was so emblematic of south London quickly disappeared, as did the tall buildings desperately cluttered together. We, and by we I mean me, were going to the suburbs. The stations be…

Jaime Mata - the one that got away (18th January, 2018)

A few months ago, Rayo fans woke up to this:
CONVOCATORIA| ūüďč Lista de 1️⃣9️⃣ jugadores para el debut ma√Īana en la #CopaDelReyūüŹÜ #NumanciaM√°laga⚽️ #VamosM√°lagaūüíô ūüĎČ https://t.co/hlScwtJkhYpic.twitter.com/qFGrdvOnrQ — M√°laga CF (@MalagaCF) October 23, 2017
That was a bittersweet moment - pride for a Rayista who was going to succeed at M√°laga, but bitterness at the club for letting him go for free and not tying him down early enough.

Midfielder Pablo Clavería slipped through the cracks. He wasn't renewed, and got tired of waiting - a depressingly normal situation for a smaller, cash-strapped club.

This is the story of another player who slipped through.

Like Pablo, he has a powerful shot on him. Unlike Pablo, it's key to his job. The striker made his name in his hometown of Madrid in the Tercera, after rising through the ranks of Gal√°ctico Pegaso. He would play for the reserves in 2007, before playing for the senior team during the 2008-09 campaign.

During the 2009-10 campaign, ec…

Non-league Incider: St Helens Town 3-0 Atherton Laburnum Rovers

Last game: 8th August: Dulwich Hamlet 2-1 East Thurrock United

The previous day, I was blown away by my first ever football match experience. Dulwich Hamlet impressed me, but what impressed me more was the journey. The travel to the stadium was just as enjoyable as the football itself.

I had caught the groundhopping bug.

There were no games scheduled for the 9th of August. There was one, near Wigan, and all I had booked earlier was a refundable bus ticket from Manchester Airport leaving at quarter past midnight.

I should have refunded it. This was a mistake. This whole day was a mistake.

I was only slightly hungover from the previous night, but that was nothing compared to this feeling of loss - I couldn't handle the fact that there was a game happening. And I wasn't too far away. Just three hours and a bit. They'll fly by, I thought.

I was in autopilot. Something within me made me get up, grab a bag, and get out the door. This wasn't me. I wasn't travelling - I was …