Saturday, 24 January 2009

Coming soon....

Sing your darts out for the lads

Next weekend promises to be one to remember and no mistake. Cynical Dave and I are continuing our support of football at grass roots level as frankly (Mr Shankly) the pair of us are sick and bored of the Premier League. The revolution starts here.

On Saturday we pay a visit to the finest stadium in non league football to witness our first ever Kent local derby. We're off to the ecologically sound (!) Princes Park for the Dartford v Maidstone grudge match in the Isthmian League Premier Division.

Genuine excitement surrounds this fixture and as if it couldn't get any more rip-roaring, we've been promised a KARAOKE NIGHT in the main bar after the match. Cynical Dave is threatening to pull out his karaoke signature dish for the evening. If you are within a few hundred miles of Dartford - I think you know what to do - see you there.

I'm not sure who writes my scripts but this match marks my 180th ground visited. You couldn't make it up. Seeing a team nicknamed The Darts at your one huuuuundred and eiiiiightieth stadium. Fantastic.

On Sunday we will be joined by EFW regular Big Deaks and occasional attendee Greeno for the trip to Oxford. In the EFW office we refer to these days as D.D.O's (Domestic Days Out). For this one we'll be seeing our favourite calamity club 'Lewes FC'. We just can't get enough of them. The match will take place at Oxford's Kassam Stadium which (fact fans) is currently a three sided ground. Can you name any others!? Answers on a postcard to the usual address please.

In other news - look out for an imminent EFW press release later on this week. This may well occur on our sister site over on Facebook (feel free to join).

For those of you who prefer me to be writing about our European Football Weekends (nice name for an award winning blog that -Ed) - fear not - in just two weeks time we're heading off to French France for a weekend of fun and frolics over there. St Etienne, Bordeaux, Grenoble Foot 38, PSG.....bring 'em all on. Exciting times eh!?

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Even Gordon Brown can't save this Bank Darling

Havant and Waterlooville 4-3 Lewes (19:01:09)

I usually work on Monday nights. However, you must be completely mad if you think I'm going to work when there is an FA Trophy 2nd round reply at Westleigh Park, Havant to attend. The original tie finished 3-3 and was a thrill a minute. Cynical Dave, Big Deaks and I had a heavy bout of FA Trophy fever. We weren't going to miss this for the world.

It was a day full of tension. Heavy rain meant it was touch and go as to whether the game would go ahead. On the train down (and across) from Gatwick, I sat daydreaming about those infamous muddy pitches at Derby County's Baseball Ground. It never did them any harm and there wasn't a blade of grass on that pitch at times. A nervous phone call to the club ensued. They confirmed the game was to go ahead. This was close to being the best news I'd heard in 25 years.

Cynical, Big Deaks and I met up at Havant station and then with a spring very much in our steps, we headed straight to the clubhouse at the stadium. It wasn't long before we were drinking with the rich and famous. Havant and Waterlooville manager Charlie Oatway was behind the bar and in front of it was former World Cup referee Paul Durkin (from Portland, Dorset). He now works as a referee's assessor which last time I thought about it is the easiest and best job known to mankind. Johnny Vegas was also serving behind the bar, or at least it looked like him.

We'd arrived early doors in time for plenty of beer. After a brief flirtation with some serious topical chat - Obama being sworn in/economic downturn/who's your favourite in Girls Aloud - we settled down and discussed some rather more pertinent issues, namely, could we name all the previous captains in a Question of Sport. Better than work eh!?

By now most of you will know the Lewes FC Story. Just briefly then for the uninitiated; manager (King) takes team from Ryman Division One South to Blue Square Premier in just five seasons, gets rewarded with the sack, all players leave aside from one, personalities clash, fans are outraged, inexperienced manager comes in along with new team of inferior players, money is scarce, club bar is run down, no battery in scoreboard, investment needed along with points. It's a circus but the excitement is intense (in tents) - do you get it!? 'it's a circus but the excitement is in tents'...(move on - Ed).

The match itself (finally - Ed again) was very much in keeping with Lewes's season. It was completely chaotic and actually tremendous fun to watch. It rained goals from start to finish. Havant and Waterlooville - I'll get bored of keep typing that out soon, shall we call them H&W from now on!? - raced to a 3-1 lead at half time. Half time was the queue for us to rush back to the clubhouse to sink another beer in one of their "plastic drinking vessels". The Merseyside derby was on the big screen but nobody appeared to give a rats. Nice. We liked that.

Incredibly, Lewes pulled it back to 3-3. The equalising goal seemed to defy the laws of physics but had Cynical Dave, Big Deaks and I running the full length of the terrace in cartwheels of delight like a loose bunch of headless chickens. Is there anything finer in life than being able to run around a terrace when your teams scores!? Simply splendid.

Then the Lewes keeper (Rikki Banks) had a moment to forget for which he will forever be remembered thanks to an EFW headline. It's not been a great few weeks for banks in general and now it was the time for Lewes's very own Bank to collapse. In soggy conditions he inexplicably tried to dribble the ball out of his own area - ran into ex-Lewes goal machine Paul Booth in the process - who casually relieved him of the ball and walked it towards the empty net before smashing it in. 4-3 to H&W and their fans could not believe their luck.

H&W gaffer Charlie Oatway pretends not to notice the three (three!) floodlights.

Under Fire! Lewes management team Keehan and Graves look on in mild disgust.

To be fair to the H&W fans, they were in tremendous voice throughout the match. Although few in number, you don't need to try that hard in Westleigh Park to create a good din. The ground lends itself to atmosphere. Their fans also have an obsession with 'scotch eggs' and 'Showaddywaddy'. What's not to like!? Good luck to them.

After the match we headed back to Havant station and decided to pop into the adjacent Star public house. Oh my God! Have you ever seen the programme 'Britain's Toughest Pubs'!? If this pub hasn't already featured in it then it will do shortly. The music was pumping out so loudly we literally couldn't hear each other talk. There was six (let's call them) 'characters' sitting at the bar. Next door there was a darts league match going on with more 'characters'. The pub gets a rating of 1.7 out of 10 on the beer in the evening website. It may be perceived as being rough but we shall be going back. It had four (four!) dart boards in it and there is nothing wrong with a pub with a bit of 'character' is there!?

Talking of darts (nice - Ed), I have now visited 179 football grounds. I calculate that the next one will be 180 or should that be 'one huuuuuuundred and eeeeiiiiiiggghhty'!? So where to go for that illusive 180th ground!? Well, there is only place surely - Dartford FC whose nickname is The Darts. So on the 31st January, Cynical Dave and I are heading to the aforementioned Dartford for their local derby with Maidstone. That my friends is entertainment. See you there.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Ryman League - We're 'avin a laugh

Merstham 5-0 Walton and Hersham (17:01:09)

Where to start!? Well, the question I've probably been asked the most this week is "Where is Merstham!?" so I'd better kick off with that. It's a village in the Reigate and Banstead borough of Surrey, just north of Redhill and Gatwick Airport and on the edge of the North Downs.

Merstham FC are the current Surrey team of the year. Last year gaffer Mick Sullivan put them firmly on the map by leading them to the treble; Combined Counties Premier Division Winners, Premier Challenge Cup Winners and Surrey Senior Cup Winners. Merstham FC are a team of Winners.

So excited were Cynical Dave and I at the prospect of pitching up at the Moatside - home to the winners of pretty much everything - that we sponsored the match. Cynical even wore a suit, a suit! We teamed up with two local comedians Gary Lomas and Wade Moreton (who provided the wittertainment) and the four of us became guests of the club for the day in return for just £40. An absolute bargain.

To put this into perspective, I did a little research (I know!). To go and see the nearest Premier league team to Merstham, you'd have to pitch up at Stamford Bridge. The cheapest tickets you can buy for their forthcoming home fixture with Middlesborough are £50.50p! Merstham charge £8 and what's more - you get a voucher which entitles you to money off for the next home game. So it costs you six times more to see Chelsea and I'd wager you'll have six times more fun watching Merstham.

Cynical Dave, Wade, Mr Lomas and I are all fairly new converts to non-league football. Previously, we all followed big and successful teams apart from Wade who had the grave misfortune to support Crystal Palace. Switching to non league football from the Premiership is a bit like changing from Radio 1 to Radio 2. You never think you're going to do it, but when you do you can't believe you've not been doing it all your life. It really is the way forwards and with players signing for £100m and earning £250k in the Premiership, there has never been a better time to stick two fingers up to it and go and support your local side.

After a few beers in the MFC clubhouse we made our way into the Moatside. The first thing you notice on your arrival is the clubs mascot. It is (be prepared to raise your eyebrows) a dog. An actual dog, not a man dressed up as a dog, although the dog is dressed up, in a home shirt. He is called Charlie. Word has it that Charlie is a lucky dog. This season in the FA Cup, Hornchurch refused permission for Charlie to enter their ground (shame on them). As a result Merstham obviously lost. It was the first game he'd missed for a dogs age.


The two teams were aware that the European Football Weekends bandwagon had rolled into town. This applied a certain pressure to the players. Some rise to the challenge, others crumble due to nerves. Immediately from the outset is was clear that there was only going to be one outcome to this match. As previously mentioned, Merstham are winners. Frankly, it was men against boys. Merstham won 5-0 and as sponsors we were (possibly) awarded the key to the village and (definitely) invited back.

Skipper Craig Vernon marshalled his troops from the back, Kevin Lock scored four times (four times!) but the outstanding player on the field in my opinion was Mark Simmons. He was different gravy. Who needs Lampard, Cole and Drogba when you've got Vernon, Simmons and Kevin 'four goals' Lock!? For the record Walton and Hersham's No. 14 was the size of a bus. Our two resident comedians nicknamed him 'Burgertov'. They are here all week.

It's only goal machine Kevin Lock. Four goals in one game!? No problemo.

Another thing to bare in mind when attending the Moatside is the fact that Merstham have a notorious following in the form of their infamous ultras. They follow the team home and away. Although not very large in number (there are two of them) they are very vociferous and some might say a bit raucous. I say good luck to them both.

Look out - it's the Merstham ultras.

Both at half time and full time we were invited into the boardroom. Merstham is the epitome of a well run club. Without exception everybody we met were warm and friendly. The ladies in the boardroom served up beers, onion bhajees, biscuits and exceedingly nice cakes. I even had the honour of eating the last bit of ginger cake served up to me by club Chairman, director and nicest man you could met Ted Hickman.

In the boardroom. From L-R: Gary Lomas, Cynical Dave, Ted Hickman (Chariman), Wade Moreton and myself.

Cynical Dave and I with the Surrey Senior Cup.

After the match in the club bar we chatted to financial director Martin Barr, club secretary Richard Baxter, Kevin 'four goals' Lock and Mr football himself - the gaffer - Mick Sullivan. Even when Merstham were four nil up and Walton and Hersham had lost the will to live, Sullivan was out on the touchline urging his players forwards. They are all legends and I'd very much like to thank them all. This is all getting a bit Kate Winslett, I'm filling up. It's tears o'clock.

After quite a few (too many) post match beers, Cynical Dave and I headed back to European Football Weekends HQ - the Lord Nelson pub in Brighton. Merstham had won 5-0, we'd had a great day, our pal Big Deaks had scored twice in his park match, cats were kissing dogs and everybody was happy. Roll on Monday (Monday!) when we have to do it all again. Havant and Waterlooville v Lewes in the FA Trophy 2nd round reply anyone!? Yes please....see you there.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Coming soon....

So last week I went to Barcelona v Real Mallorca at the 98,000 capacity Camp Nou. Where does one go from there!? The answer quite obviously is to the Moatside to see Merstham v Walton and Hersham.

So this Saturday (17th Jan) Cynical Dave and I will be making our debut at a match in the Isthmian League Division One South. We're so excited that we've delved behind the EFW sofa - found a couple of quid - and are going to Sponsor the match. Check us out! I'm not sure life gets any better do you!?

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Soccer AM

Capital P dash capital P, or if you will P-P. They are the capital letters and punctuation that every football fan dreads. Match postponed stinker. They are all over today's football league programme like a cheap Burton's suit, so in the absence of any meaningful football (who cares about the Premiership!?) I thought I'd take a visit to the EFW loft to see what I can unearth.

So ladies and gentlemen, we can now relive the day when some of the members of the EFW team made their live appearances on the old goggle box in 2005. For some reason unbeknown to man, Sky Television decided to invite us on to their flagship Saturday morning football show to be the (Brighton) fans of the week.

The Road to Wembley. We managed a total of no goals. That was a record low for the programme, a fact we were obviously delighted with.

Light drizzle. Topless weather with Nick and Quinners.

Nick and Binsy in The Wheatsheaf.

We take over the Luther Blisset Stand with our Falmer campaign. I'm not saying Brighton got the go ahead for the new stadium because of it....ok I am. It was all because of us.

Myself (complete with obligatory cheesy grin) with Tom Smith, lead singer with The Editors. It was later reported in Q Magazine that the aforementioned Editors had been mobbed by Brighton 'Players'. As if.

The best player in the world at the time. Next to a signed shirt of Ronaldinho.

Nick and Quinners about to take to the catwalk. Form an orderly queue ladies.

Thanks very much you've been a wonderful audience, don't forget to tip the waitress on the way out.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Barcelona - Part 3

Fans can't be Barced

Barcelona Atlètic 1-0 Benidorm (04:01:09)

So onto my third match in 22 hours. After Barcelona v Real Mallorca and Gava v Valencia it was time for another match in the Segunda Division B - Group 3. This match took place in the Mini Estadi, which is next door the Camp Nou and was opened in 1982. It's not often a reserve team play in a stadium that holds around 16,000 but then this is Barcelona.

For this match however, with it being Christmas and it turning a bit cold. The notoriously fickle Spanish fans didn't show up. As I was virtually on my own in the stadium, I decided to do a sort of minute by minute report by way of a change. So here goes:

1 min: Barca anthem ends. Remember to do the three hand clap bit at the right time. We are underway.

14 mins: Not much occurring on the pitch but notice Barca manager Josep Guardiola is sitting not far from me.

23 mins: Don't mind telling you I had a cheeky touch of the ball. Very pleasing.

25 mins: Wonder if I appeared on Barca TV with my well placed throw to the corner taker.

28 mins: Benidorm forward whack ball towards goal from two yards. Keeper makes Gordon Banks type save (or did it deflect of a defender!?) and the ball smacks the underside of the bar and stays out. Crowd stunned.

33 mins: Take nice photo of the action from behind the goal. Pleased.

37 mins: News of Real Madrid taking the lead against Villareal filters through on stadium scoreboard. Man next to me shakes head.

38 mins: GOAL! Maric curls in the opening goal and it was a beauty. He runs off doing a hugely disappointing Nicholas Anelka 'butterfly hands' goal celebration. Man next to me nods his approval and punches the air. 1-0.

41 mins: Hands are cold.

42 mins: Consider purchasing Barca crisps.

43 mins: Fourth bit of nice skills by the Barca No.11. The locals are used to it but I stare on open mouthed. 11 Euros to get in AND bits of skill!? What's not to like!?


I crack and purchase some Barca crisps. Wallet a shade lighter. Also notice that there are no hand dryers in the toilets. This makes a change from the norm in Spain which is 1 x 1960's hand dryer, 1 x out of order sign.

47 mins: Decide to count travelling Benidorm fans in stadium. Total? Naught, nil, nobody, nada. Probably at home watching it on Benidorm TV.

50 mins: Ref books man in bright yellow boots.

58 mins: Battery low on mobile stinker.

65 mins: Perform 'players wearing gloves' headcount. Aside from the keepers only one player has them on. Barcelona No.8 - shame on you!

66 mins: Wish I was wearing gloves.

68 mins: Chap called 'Gorda' comes on for Benners. I'm sure Gorda means fat. Come on fatty lad.

71 mins: Ref books man in white boots.

77 mins: Notice 4th official is wearing jeans. (NB: write to Spanish FA demanding points deduction for Barca). Total disgrace.

80 mins: Benners now dominating. Can they snatch unlikely equaliser!? Excited.

86 mins: Benners make confusing defensive substitution. Man with headband comes on and spends first 30 seconds readjusting his hair. Not looking good.

90 mins: 4th official (still in jeans) indicates the mandatory 3 minutes of time added on.

FULL TIME - the Barca anthem pumps out once more and (yet again) the Barca fans go home to celebrate another win.

I leave and head back to the wife and our friends for more drinks. The next day we took in all the sights, ate and drank to excess. However, you don't want to read about that here. You can view all that at (probably).

Adios y Feliz Año Nuevo!

Had to have one of the floodies before I left eh lads!?

Barcelona Part 1

Barcelona part 2

Barcelona - Part 2

Gavà & Stacey

Gavà 0-4 Valencia Mestalla (04:01:09)

After watching Barcelona v Real Mallorca the previous night and then drinking until the early hours, my alarm went off after only four hours of sleep. What to do!? Stay in bed when there is a Segunda Division B - Group 3 match on just minutes down the road!? You must be joking.

I was staying in Castelldefels and as I made my merry way to the railway station I paused only briefly to have a look at the local football stadium - home to UE Castelldefels - who play in the Primera Catalana Division. It was all locked up but I did managed to take this photo. Am I good to you chaps or not!?

Municipal Els Canyars home to UE Castelldefels and home also to 1 x plastic pitch.

The train journey to Gavà only took around five minutes. As I made my way to the ground, I could hear music being pumped out from loud speakers across the streets. This occurs only at Christmas time apparently. I was treated to 'All I want for Christmas is you' by Mariah Carey, 'Last Christmas' by Wham and 'Let it Snow' by Dean Martin. Not so mad now for getting up so early eh!?

The Segunda Division B is the third level of football in Spain. This division also includes several reserve teams from La Liga. These teams can't enter into the Copa del Rey and are also ineligible for promotion to Primera Division. So this match was essentially Gavà v Valencia reserves.

I paid the 12 Euro to get in and then made my way to the supporters bar which was knocking our beers for 1 Euro each. With this being a midday kick off and having only had 4 hours sleep, I only managed to help myself to a couple of 'liveners' before heading to the stands for some action.

As the match kicked off it was pretty clear that it was men against boys. Valencia looked a class apart and it surprised nobody when they took the lead through Toledo. He toe punted his shot through the keepers arms and then sprinted off before sliding on his knees for a fair ten yards. The 'Toledo Tornado' had been unleashed.

Minutes later our man Toledo did it again. He spun a 360 pirouette in the six yard box before planting a delightful curler into the bottom right hand corner. The 'Mestalla Messiah' again sprinted off into the distance, this time blowing kisses to the empty stands. My hero. Half time 0-2.

I pulled out my home made EFW press card and blagged my way into the press box for the 2nd half. This area was just one seat (one seat!) away from - get this - a roped off VIP section. Happy days or what!?

On the hour mark our man Toledo (who else) set up a chance for Riau who blasted the ball into the roof of the net to the sound of no people clapping. That is aside from one lucky chap in a suit the other side of the red VIP rope. Let's call him the chairman. I would have loved to have seen the goal from inside that section. How the other half live eh!?

In the 73rd minute, another Valencia hero was born. Riau - with a nonchalant flick of his left boot - lifted the ball over the advancing keeper to score his second and Valencia's fourth goal of the game. Chants of 'FUERA FUERA FUERA' ('OUT OUT OUT') echoed around the stadium and Gavà's manager could only turn sheepishly round to the crowd and offer a shrug of his shoulders.

Then things to a turn for the surreal. As I was sitting in the press box with just my friends from the radio for company. The fourth official kept showing me his substitutions board. I had to nod my acknowledgment, thrust a thumb up in the air and then pretend to jot something down.

After the match, I again used my EFW badge to sidestep security and gain access to the players. I only managed to grab a word with Toledo (I know!). He told me he was happy but that it wasn't all about him. Then with a wink and thumbs up he was off down the tunnel. It was a bit of a thumbs up sort of morning.

The EFW Toledo thumbs up seal of approval. What a legend!

Outside with the sun beating down and blue skies ahead 'Let it Snow' again pumped out across the streets. It seemed a shade out of place but never mind. I was back off to the station to make my into Barcelona for my second match of the day. What did I care!?

Barcelona - Part 1

Nou that's what I call a holiday.

Barcelona 3-1 Real Mallorca (03:01:09)

With eleven festive days in hand it would have been far too easy to fly directly from London to Barcelona. Therefore the wife and I escapaded our way across Spain like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza getting into little adventures en route before making our way to Catalonia.

We travelled through Castilla La Mancha taking in Madrid (my favourite city in Europe), Cuenca (where I got married in 2005 and home to the best tapas in Spain), Cañete (where I spent a few nights drinking until silly o'clock) and Salinas del Manzano (population 107 and home to my in-laws, who live above the only bar in the village, which they own - good old life).

Salinas del Manzano

In Cañete I met Vicente Adam Carrasco. Vicente Adam Carrasco! Vicente used to play for UD Salamanca in the 70's and he was there celebrating Christmas with his wife and friends. As we propped up the bar he told me of the days when he used to man-mark the likes of Mario Kempes, Hugo Sanchez, Johan Cruyff and Laurie Cunningham. Indeed Cunningham used to visit his house and Vicente has promised me photographic evidence of this in the near future.

He we all are in Bar Jaleo, Cañete at around 4am. Our man is in the white shirt and glasses.

The chap in the red shirt (in the above photo) told me he was the one who advised Lionel Messi to go to Barcelona. He also said that if Spain was a doughnut, Real Madrid would be the whole in the middle. Who knows if all this is true but it was a great night whatever.

After a week of eating, drinking, walking and talking it was time to head to Barcelona. To get there from Salinas del Manzano, we had to take the coach. There is only one a day and in order to get tickets, I had to flag down the coach two days beforehand and pop a note to the driver with my instructions. The following day, I had to flag down the coach again and the driver popped the tickets out of the window. On the third day we actually boarded said coach. Good old (village) life!

The coach took eight hours. It was most amusing to observe the colour come back into the faces of my fellow passengers each time we stopped and they could smoke again. I guesstimate that 98% of Spaniards smoke and it's my (unfounded) belief that they teach smoking in Spanish schools.

We stayed with friends in Castelldefels just outside of Barcelona. It's a small town in which Lionel Messi (him again), Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and a host of other footballers have houses. In fact Messi (him yet again) goes shopping in the Argentinian food shop next door to the house in which I was staying. How is that for a claim to fame!? (2/10 - Ed).

We arrived in town seven hours prior to kick off. I met up with my pal Alberto and his family from Mallorca. Alberto has a Real Mallorca season ticket but actually supports Barca. The last time I was at his abode he sat through a family meal with an earpiece in, listening to a Barcelona game on the radio. Obviously, we get on famously.

Alberto's son Carlos gets into the EFW spirit.

We walked up and down the La Rambla, sunk a few beers in the Barrio Gotico district and then Alberto and I waved our white flags and headed off to the match two hours early, leaving our families in town to buy hamsters etc.

'You'll never walk alone' here.

It's 'Money for old scissors' in La Rambla.

We had to meet up with Alberto's brother-in-law (Carlos) and his mates outside the ground. Thankfully, it was decided that the pub was the way forwards. There are lots of different ways to approach the Camp Nou but we opted for Les Corts metro station and then headed to the Les Corts Cervecera (bar) to sink some more bevingtons and talk football/nonsense.

Alberto and I in Les Corts with my new mates: Carlos, Jordi, Vincec and Carlets.

They've rarely had it so good at the Camp Nou. Barca are umpty thrumpty points clear in La Liga and they keep beating teams by cricket scores. A fortnight earlier in the same stadium, arch rivals Real Madrid left chuffed with the fact they'd only lost two nil and chants of "Madrid, cabron, saluda al campeon!" (Madrid, you bastards, bow down before the champions!) rang out towards the end of the match.

Real Mallorca on the other hand are in complete turmoil. The clubs owners are in the construction business which has (obviously) gone tits up and they are in debt, have sold all their best players and earlier this season went through three Presidents in four days. This was going to be a massacre.

Disturbing scenes outside the Camp Nou. Hooters + jester hats = my worst nightmare.

On the approach to the ground the home fans were marvelling in the fact that they are currently the best team in Europe. There were cats kissing dogs and gangs of youths helping old ladies cross the road. Our match tickets cost €34 which in English money is about £34 - I did that in my head. For that we got a seat two rows from the front in the third tier. Tickets are always (aside from Real Madrid) available outside the stadium on the day of the game. For this match only(!) 60,000 fans bothered turning up which was 38,000 below capacity.

From the outside the ground is actually quite an ugly mass of grey concrete. The club plan to address this and have signed up Sir Norman Foster no less to oversea the complete modernisation of the Camp Nou. It certainly needs it. Inside, it's hard not to be impressed by the shear size of everything but I don't know, give me a smaller ground with a bit of terracing and some proper atmosphere anytime. Maybe they need to sell beer inside to get the crowd going!? Currently they only sell non-alcoholic stuff in the concourses.

I asked Carlos why the atmosphere and the tifo display against Real Madrid was so poor for the previous home match. "Because it was raining" he said. Catalan people hate the rain. Attendences at the Camp Nou can vary from 20,000 to 98,000 depending on the weather and the opponents.

Astonishingly, in the 15th minute Real Mallorca took the lead. Time stood still as Aduriz broke through and lofted the ball over Valdez. This wasn't in the script and nobody had a Johnathan Ross what was going on. Alberto and I, out of shock more than anything else got up and celebrated. Nobody took any notice of us. There weren't any Real Mallorca fans in the ground so we had to do something.

Thierry Henry restored parity by equalising in the 31st minute, sweeping in a left foot effort before becoming one of a splendid 13 players to get booked. The game then laboured a bit as we all waited for the inevitable Barca onslaught. It didn't come for ages so Barca decided to bring Iniesta off the bench. He had an immediate impact and scored almost straight away with a goal so offside he was (almost) too embarrassed to celebrate. Then Toure provided us with a bit of class adding a third just after Josemi had been sent off.

Carlos, myself and Alberto.

Personally, I don't think it can be all that enjoyable supporting a great club. Barca fans can only get themselves up for Real Madrid and maybe two Champions League games a season. Beating Real Mallorca doesn't register much on the excitement richter scale. So here is a fact for you; supporting the best team in Europe is boring! As a consequence there was no atmosphere in the ground at all.

In saying that, there was some noise being made by those horrendous hooters. Those deplorable pieces of plastic have no place inside a football ground or anywhere in society at all. I have written a letter to the Spanish FA demanding Barca be deducted points as a result of those hooters. I shall keep you abreast.

After the match we headed back to Castelldefels until 5am. We ended up in some sort of illegal drinking den. Alberto and I somehow managed to beat all the locals and the landlord at darts, winning free beers for the most of the night in the process.

Whilst talking our usual nonsense, we decided that the surrounding streets outside the Camp Nou lack any sort of real supporters bars. As such we are going to create 'Bar Barca'. Our pub will be bedecked with scarves, memorabilia and have a photo of Steve Archibald above the fire place. Barca attract thousands of tourists to their ground every week. Who wouldn't want to have a beer in Bar Barca!? This time next year.........