After the lunchtime game at Arcos it was back to Seville for the early evening top division game between Real Betis and Getafe. We’d originally arrived in Seville a couple of days earlier and on the rare occasions when we weren’t knocking back rioja and scoffing tapas, Jen and I had had a good wander around the city.
Of the places recommended in the guidebooks the one that I liked best was the Alcazar. It’s an old Moorish fort that was later converted into a palace and has a few gardens inside the walls. Whilst I don’t ever really think a garden is a proper one unless it has a few rows of carrots and a potato patch, this place wasn’t too bad.
Whilst the Alcazar might have been lacking in vegetables, it did have plenty of orange trees. As did most of the streets in Seville. I’d often wondered why people don’t just pick the oranges from the trees rather than buy them from the shops. In fact I’ve long thought that when I eventually become an alcoholic tramp I’ll move to Spain for the cheap vodka and free ‘fresh from the branch’ orange juice mixer.
Well, now I know why people don’t pick them. They taste crap. Or to be more specific, they are exceptionally bitter. They are probably a variety chosen solely to make the trees on the pavements look good rather than to attract alcoholic tramps from Teesside. The lack of interest in the oranges from locals does mean though that the council workers have to dispose of them before they drop on people’s heads. One morning we got caught up in a tree-shaking exercise near the Cathedral. Half a dozen people from the Parks and Gardens department just work their way along a street, one climbs a ladder and shakes the tree whilst the rest collect the deluge of fruit. That’s yet one more job that the Careers Officer didn’t get around to telling me about.
At 4.30pm I set off walking to the Estadio Benito Villamarin. We were staying close to the Plaza de Toros and I reckoned that as the stadium wasn’t too far from the river then I would be able to walk it in about an hour without getting lost.
Jen had decided to give this game a miss on the basis that as we had planned to watch Sevilla Atletico the following morning, two games in two days was sufficient for normal people. The walk initially started out very well as the route followed the river for a mile or so and I was able to watch rowers and canoeists enjoying the warm weather.
After a while though, I came to a dead end. The access back to the road was blocked by padlocked gates and I had to double back for quite a distance. It was only when I got to the main road that I realised I had been wandering about in the Port Area. I got the impression from the sign that perhaps I hadn’t been meant to be there.
As time was getting on I gave up on my plan to walk to the game and flagged down a taxi. A few minutes later we pulled up outside the stadium. If you can remember the 1982 World Cup, it’s the ground where Brazil beat Scotland 4-1 in the game that Jimmy Hill incurred the wrath of a nation by referring to David Narey’s goal as a ‘toe-poke’.
I’d got out of the taxi at the east stand ‘Fondo’ and couldn’t see a ticket office. I made my way through the crowds and around the back of the south stand. That end seems a bit out of step with the rest of the ground as it’s only half the height or so. I continued along the west stand which is known as ‘Preferentia’ before eventually spotting the ticket office. Unfortunately it was shut. I hadn’t been expecting this game to sell out with Getafe hardly being the biggest draw in world football and so I was taken a bit by surprise.
As ever though, there were people selling tickets. I was approached by one fella who having established that I just wanted one ticket, directed me to someone else who was after the match-day price of 60 euros for the use of a season card. Whilst that undoubtedly gave him a decent profit, I couldn’t really complain at paying the same price that I would have had the ticket office been open.
A baldy bloke with worse English than my Spanish was instructed to escort me back around to the Fondo stand where I’d arrived in the taxi a few minutes earlier and after an initial argument with a steward who wasn’t keen on letting him accompany me to the turnstiles, I was inside the ground whilst the season card was safely back in his pocket.
Fortunately I’d memorised the row and seat number. Unfortunately there was already someone sat in my lower tier, row twenty seat and without a ticket stub there wasn’t a great deal that I could do about it. I took a seat close by and hoped that nobody would come and claim it.
As it turned out, the stadium wasn’t full with around ten thousand of its fifty two thousand seats remaining empty. There were a few near to me, so it wouldn’t have been a problem finding somewhere else to sit if necessary. The fans around me were pretty active, singing and twirling their green and white scarves. The ones behind the goal were even better, standing on their chairs throughout.
The first half was relatively quiet on the pitch, which was just as well really as I spent most of it squinting into the sun. The Brazilian Iriney Santos was captaining Betis and I remembered him being one of the more effective Celta Vigo players from my time in Galicia.
No one else really stood out for me although Jefferson Montero looked to be a threat for the home team whenever he had the ball. At the interval it remained goalless and in the absence of any alcohol in the beer I settled for a three euro bottle of coke.
The action picked a few minutes into the second half with Montero crossing for Molina to finish well and put Betis in front. That was the cue for a bit more scarf-twirling from the fans around me.
The joy didn’t last long though and Getafe equalised less than five minutes later. There were a few grumbles around me that it may have been offside but I can’t see how anyone could have known from where we were.
Betis had plenty of possession in the remainder of the half, but Getafe were content to soak it up and then try and hit them on the break. I cleared off a couple of minutes before the end along with quite a few of the home supporters. Fortunately I seemed to be the only one looking for a taxi and I was soon on my way back into the city centre.