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La perspectiva de Albacete - with Ángel Galdón Rodrígu (25th October, 2017)

Ángel Galdón Rodrígu is part of Clockwork Cheese, an Albacete Balompié UK Supporters Club. You can follow them, and talk to fans, on Facebook - fb.com/clockworkcheeseuk - and on Twitter - @clockworkcheese.

A bit about yourself and your background

I have a complicated background really. I grew up in Seville. My dad’s from a village in the Albacete region, and my mum is from Seville. They met in Madrid, where I was born. Nowadays, after living in the UK in my twenties, I am a lecturer at University in Albacete. My wife is from near Manchester and she has a popular English academy in Albacete with some other partners.

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

Since I’ve been living here and there for so long, I am only a member since 2003. The reason to support them was simple - it came at a time when Barcelona and Madrid were basically the only football on the media agenda. Remember the time of the Galácticos? Why would you follow that when you have nice, proper football in your own city - in a professional league? We should support proper football, and there is nowadays a huge shift in this direction, consisting of people who are tired of media based stars.

Describe your first experience of watching Albacete play?

The first game I ever watched live was against Espanyol in April 1995. We drew 1-1 and Fernando Morientes scored for us. I’ll never forget those concrete steps and the athletics track.

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

In spite of our current position in the league, Albacete has got, for a very long time, a very well organized football method based on building from the back and use of the wings. Most of our managers have rejected the rough football of the 90’s, and this generation try to follow the tactics that are famous in Spain. This is, of course, subject of much criticism, but I’m not a coach. We, the Clockwork Cheese peña, have always been pampered by the club and local press. They invited the president to the board seats and some of our members to see the players at the training grounds. They even call us sometimes offering away tickets. Fans are very competently associated in the Federación de Peñas. Like any other club, we have players that come and some that go. I see now that fans are particularly fond of men like Tomeu Nadal and Roman Zozulya, who really struggled in Madrid when he went on loan to Rayo Vallecano.

Describe the importance and significance of a game against a rival? What do you think would be the key differences between a Albacete fan and a fan of those clubs?

It’s quite surprising to see how many people in Albacete support the three big clubs in Spain: Barça, Real and Atlético. However, those who actually support Alba are very dedicated and committed to the task. We’ve had a few away games and the brotherhood is unbelievable. Again, as we say, the attention we’ve received from the club cannot be felt when you support a mainstream club.

There was a time when Albacete were in La Liga. However, it has since had a roller-coaster of promotions and relegations, yo-yoing between the Segunda and Segunda B. How would you describe the last few seasons for Albacete fans?

Well, this is not the first time such a thing happens. Our peña is young and is far away from the top flight times. Anyway, it seems very clear we are too big for the Segunda B, and the Segunda is a very difficult competition for anyone - see where Elche, Recreativo, Racing Santander or Mallorca are now. It’s not fair that such big clubs get trapped in the Segunda B for years and years. The Spanish federation should really look into the third tier if they really want to be the best league in the world, as they all say in Spain they are. They’re not: and that’s one of the biggest reasons.

What is your opinion on the utilization of the youth teams? How would you rate the opportunities that youth players get in the first team?

We’ve been to the Alba training grounds and had the opportunity to follow academy games. We are super impressed by the quality of the ladies team. Young footballers in Albacete can feel lucky.

List some things you appreciate and some things you can’t stand about the club management.

We love how the club has welcomed us every time. We love the brotherhood among the fans, the fellowship that one can feel. Some things that are unnecessarily wrong are the ridiculously short range of drink and food at Carlos Belmonte, and the basically non-existent club store.

What is the most famous ultra group at Albacete? How would you describe them and their political affiliations? What is the feeling of fans of Albacete and of other clubs towards them? How would you characterize the Albacete board's support to them?

As far as we know, we’ve not known about political affiliations among alba fans. We know a few groups like Squadra or ABP1940, but they’ve never been further than jokes towards Murcia. In general, as far as we’ve talked with fans of other clubs in Spain, Albacete Balompié is a club that is welcome pretty much anywhere and this is really surprising. They only claim to hate Murcia and it’s questionable that such feeling is reciprocal.

You won’t see any flags supporting political affiliations in the ground. We’ve seen some Spanish flags, but if one can’t show a Spanish flag in Spain, then that would be worrying. We’ve brought a Union Jack a few times and it’s always been welcome.

How would you contrast the "Albacete fan experience" under the current board?

Many changes are shaping a new era in the club. This is in fact quite nice, because the Segunda B won’t offer the opportunities Albacete have now. One instance is TV coverage: more expensive but way more decent. We need to mention the effort the club made with ABTV, but in general, when you see improvements like this you feel the club you support is important. Another field where it can be seen is the quality of the new signings. One can’t help being optimistic.

Is there something that the media doesn't (or maybe doesn't want to) talk about Albacete that you think is worth mentioning?

We’ve been told this issue is very thorny in Spain. On the one hand, Albacete media are very good and professional around sports. You’ll find interesting commentary everywhere: press, online, radio and TV. The variety of journalists covering the club is fabulous, and the depth of their analyses very intricate. However, national media can reach a new level of mediocrity. Sorry, but this feeling is quite widespread among us. They basically talk about Real and Barça, and sometimes not even that: just Cristiano and Messi. It’s time for them to realize thousands of football fans are incredibly bored with all that. We enjoy football and all its conundrums.

Your thoughts on the season ahead?

We’ve got the skill to avoid relegation with confidence and time. Segunda is one of the most difficult leagues in Europe, and just three games can change everything. I say we’ll end up mid-table.

Anything I haven't covered and you'd like me to put in?

At the Ciudad Deportiva, Albacete's training facilities, there is a restaurant where any fan can book a table and eat side by side with the players. And not just that: the food is amazing and really cheap.

I’ve never seen that anywhere else

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