Thursday, 15 October 2009

Balls To Barça

U E Poble Sec victorious for the one and only time - in 1958

Barça football fans are known for their lack of enthusiasm. The sort of hysteria one associates with British supporters gets short shrift in Camp Nou, which Catalan supporters will exit early if a match isn't going their way. Having paid a fortune for a seat so far from the action they often resort to binoculars and a radio to follow the play, you can't really blame their lack of brio, perhaps.

Distance from the pitch was certainly not a problem when Mrs HD dragged me to a match between UE Poble Sec and CD Tortosa on Saturday 10th October, however. Neither was space. With around 50 locals and three or four visiting fans, there was plenty of room to spread out and stretch your legs on the stand at the Complex Esportiu de la Bàscula. In fact, Unió Esportiva Poble Sec is such a low-key team, it took quite a bit of asking about in the barri before we came across anyone who'd even heard of them - this despite the team being founded back in 1929. 
What's more, despite being one of two soccer teams representing the sporting hopes and dreams of such a tiny geographic area,  UE Poble Sec is in a pretty impressive position, as one of the 20 teams in the Primera Catalana, and as part of what is essentially the fifth level of Spanish football, they are a mere four promotions away from playing
Barça themselves! That said, the team have been in the same division for seven seasons and as of the time of writing are languishing in 13th position.   
Last season's team - playing away by the look of the ground.

Were they to perform a series of miracles and make it to the top of four leagues on four consecutive seasons, they would need to play a damn' sight better than the first half of the match I saw. They did improve considerably in the second, however, and after one disallowed goal, another from substitute Fran gained them the match in the 80th minute, and reduced the risk of renegation. A highly physical game resulted in five yellow cards and a substitution and hospital visit for Tortosa goalie Jiménez.

Despite this victory - the second of the season - things are not looking good for UE Poble Sec. Flung out of La Satàlia, their ground since 1936 while the dirt pitch receives a toupée of astroturf, their President, Pedro Venero Rozas is looking to sell the club. Indeed, he was so desperate for cash he practically snatched the €10 entrance fee out of my hand when we attended the match. 

President Pedro Venero Rozas looking for a cash injection.

And not only is Venero attempting to sell the club, but also its position in the league - a perfectly legal transaction in Spain I think. Another demoralising fact is that the number of supporters is now at an all-time low. The 50 or so that came last Saturday was not even a shadow of the 50,000 who saw "El Sec" win it's only trophy against CE Europa at the end of the '57 - '58 season in Les Corts.

A return to La Satàlia is slated for the end of the month, according to one source, and hopefully that will also mean a return to form and popularity for the ailing club. If so, I'll certainly be there to lend my support. Visca El Sec!


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  2. Ann Says... Looks much the same in England: things are not looking good for Reading football club: results are not good, John Madeski is looking for a buyer (apparently) to assist with his proposed Reading town centre re-development - and don't even think about Surrey County Cricket Club: relegated yet again this year despite Ramprakash being the highest run scorer in the country for the year!, so the cricket club that has the best ground at the Oval can't play cricket - hopefully a few recent signings might bring better results next year and S.C.C. can get back to the good trophy winning ways of years past - hope so because I have just renewed my annual subscription and ordered 2010 Test Match Tickets when England play Pakistan. Mad, or optimistic? Let you know at the end of the 2010 season.