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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.

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