Skip to main content

From Catalonia to Heybridge - the story of an eighth division club (19th October, 2017)

After spending his whole life at UDA Gramenet and a season at Europa, Guillem Ramón moved to Terrassa in the summer of 2014. It was just another Catalan player transferring between two clubs in the Catalan regional leagues - nothing extraordinary.

But it was consequential.

In March 2015, in a match against Sabadell, the full back suffered a complete meniscal rupture, and his season was over. So was his contract - and a big chunk of the 2015-16 season as well. He ended up signing for Cerdanyola, without pay (as he was recuperating), and the doctors said that January would be his return time. However, he debuted in November.

In hindsight, it was a mistake.

After two games, in a training session, on November 25th he got injured again - this time in the quadriceps in the same leg. After two months of recuperation, and still no guarantee of pay, Guillem left for new pastures in February 2016. A trial at Coplestonians FC followed; so did an opportunity at Needham Market FC, in the seventh tier of English football. However, after playing just seven games, he dropped down a division, signing for Heybridge Swifts FC last summer.

But why am I sharing this with you?

Guillem Ramón for Heybridge


This summer, Guillem Ramón suggested a week’s training course for a number of Spanish players to coach Jody Brown, a suggestion he agreed to. The England The Chance initiative, saw a group of 22 players from Spain, Andorra and Argentina spend a week with the club between July 2-9, and receive coaching from Jody and Glenn Little.

Forwards Joan Luque, 25, and Toni Paredes, 17, midfielders Galo Jacomy, 18, and Elías Siligato, 26, defender Pablo Pena, 19, and goalkeeper Alex Luque, 19, all got game time in a pre-season friendly at Basildon United on July 8.

In fact, both Luque - who actually played alongside Guillem at Gramenet - and Siligato continued to train with the squad, and are now first team players.

We are now in a situation where a trio of Spanish players are playing for the Bostik North club, players whose friends and families all come to watch. Moreover, the club is getting serious interest from Catalonia, with people contacting the club on social media. With a number of the others training with other clubs in Essex, a Spanish community is being formed in the lower leagues of England.



In 2002, every club in Barcelona - Espanyol, Barcelona, ​​CF Damm, you name it - was vying for the signature of a 10-year-old.

After playing for San Pedro Lumen and UD Bon Pastor, at the age of 10, Joan Luque could choose which club in his hometown he wanted. He chose Barcelona - and Guillermo Amor personally told him that he was convinced that Luque could be a Barcelona player if he really wanted it.

Two years followed at Barcelona, followed by two years at Damm. From there, he played youth football at Gramanet, Europa and Cornellà; at the latter club, he played in the Copa del Rey Juvenil, where they eliminated Gimnàstic de Tarragona in the first round and beat Real Madrid in the first leg of the second round - a Real Madrid team consisting of Álvaro Morata, Pablo Sarabia and Dani Carvajal.

His first senior season was at Gramenet B, where he spent a year and scored 8 goals in the Primera Catalana, convincing the first team coach to play him in the Tercera - he scored 6 goals, and at the end of the season was selected by NIKE among the 100 best players of Catalonia to perform a challenge to represent Spain, a challenge he participated in along with Guillem but was not chosen for the next round.

Since then, he has played for numerous clubs - CF Montañesa, Vilassar de Mar, FC Santboià, and Sabadell B; with Sabadell B, he achieved promotion to the Tercera in 2014, and made his debut with the first team (at the time in the Segunda) in the Copa Catalunya against Espanyol, playing the last 10 minutes.

It led to an opportunity outside Catalonia - Sant Rafel in Ibiza signed him, where he stayed for two seasons, and that led to Joan moving even further away - this time to Llosetense, also in the Balearic Islands.

A season later, moving from Spain didn't seem like such a distant dream...



Elías Siligato played for three different juvenil teams - Rapid, Leganés and Alcorcón - before starting his senior career in the fifth tier with the latter club's B team in 2010.

His first experience in the Tercera came in 2012, when Sant Rafel signed him. He would stay there for four seasons, playing alongside Joan Luque in the final two, before dropping down a division to play for U.D. Ibiza-Eivissa.

It was Luque who told him about England the Chance.

And he took it.

Left: Joan Luque. Right: Elías Siligato

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Non-league Incider: Dulwich Hamlet 2-1 East Thurrock United

When I was more young and foolish I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't visit a football stadium until I visited Vallekas. Frustrated by my inability to plan a trip, I broke that promise by watching a game in the sixth tier of English football.

This is that game. This is my story.

If I've learnt anything, it's this: never make promises to yourself. Promises to yourself are like bonds to an imaginary world - they're not attached to anything. Instead, they only serve to frustrate you, and sometimes those around you.

In 2016, I remember being outside Wembley and not going inside for a stadium tour. In 2014, I remember giving up the opportunity to watch Real Madrid play AC Milan in Dubai. For a year the stadiums of Chelsea and Fulham were on the same street as mine. For three years, every time my friend said he was going to watch Leyton Orient, every time my brother talked about his love for Arsenal, every time I looked at a map of London and saw how close I was to the …

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…

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 …