Well what a washout Easter was! We were away, but the weather in Salou on the mainland where we were, was just as bad as it was here in Mallorca. What made it even more frustrating was the UK basking in temperatures of 25c, cue the newspapers with their “We’re hotter in Spain” headlines.
My Easter football feast started on the Thursday where my youngest Jude was playing in a tournament in Marratxi. His team managed to win all three games and get to the final. At the end of each game they had a penalty shootout just to make sure that at the end there were 2 finalists. Out of the 9 penalties he faced he managed to save 4 making sure they went through with maximum points.
The problem was that he wasn’t going to be able to play in the final the following day as we all had to go to Salou for my eldest sons tournament. We had asked earlier if Jude had a tournament and we were told no but the club decided that his team would play at the last minute. We were a little gutted for him but there was nothing we could do. Anyway he was also looking forward to joining his elder brothers team who’ve adopted him as their third coach and mascot and he proudly sits on the bench.
We flew to Barcelona that evening and drove to Salou. A few of things worth noting if you ever make the same journey. We booked our car online and as we have a years insurance cover for all cars we hire we booked the minimum insurance package. The guy at the counter tried to freak us out with all the jargon that we would have to pay out loads of money if there was a problem but to be honest this happens all the time and what we pay for the insurance is covered on our first car rental. Trying to get out of the car rental car park at Barcelona airport is a feat in itself as it’s not actually sign posted that well. Once on the road you need to be aware that there are tolls and they don’t tell you what you are paying beforehand so make sure you have change handy and if you don’t have any change make sure you go to a toll that gives change! We arrived in Salou and then tried to park. The authorities obviously know there’s a tournament in town as you have to pay to park in most areas and there’s a distinct lack of spaces. It took us 45 minutes to find a space that was then a 10 minute walk to the hotel.
Last week I told you what big business these football tournaments here in Mallorca are and that applies to any tournament you go to. The Mare Nostrum Cup in Salou started in 2000 and so this was it’s 19th year. 300 teams from around the World were about to compete in over 800 games of football in 3 days with over 5,500 players and supporters visiting the resort.
Our expectations were that if we qualified out of our group it would be a great result. We had no idea of the standard of teams we were going to face so we were entering a little blind. Our first game on Friday morning was a tight affair with both teams pretty evenly matched and a 0-0 scoreline was the right result.
We were also keen to find out how Jude’s team had got on in their final back in Mallorca. Unbelievably they managed to win 2-1 without him and won the trophy. They also gave the best goalkeeper award to Jude after his performances on Thursday. He was over the moon and so were we. The second game on Friday afternoon we were up against the supposed weakest team and we ran out deserved 3-1 winners. That meant our final game on Saturday morning would mean that the winner would qualify in first place. We would have to win as the team we were playing had scored more goals than us. Lots of nerves around amongst us parents but the boys seemed to take it in their stride. Like the first game both teams were evenly matched and it looked like we were going to draw and lose out of going through first. However in the very last minute we scored, cue ecstatic scenes on the pitch and in the stands.
To win 2 games and draw 1 was a fantastic achievement for the team and way beyond our expectations. That meant we had a game Saturday afternoon at another ground and another unknown opponent. When we got to the stadium we noticed we were up against a team size wise bigger than us. It was a tough game and they kicked us all over the park but the boys stood firm and dug in.
The game ended 0-0 so we were going to the dreaded penalties. I told Jake that if he was going to take one to make sure that he didn’t change his mind and hit it as hard as he could. I asked how many penalties for each team and was told 5. They scored first and we equalised 1-1, they scored their second and we equalised 2-2. Their third penalty was saved by our keeper Diego so then it was Jakes turn. As he was walking up one of the players shouted to me if he scores we’re through. What happened to the 5 penalties? It was actually 3 each and Jake could actually win it if he scored. At that point I couldn’t look, I knew he’d be devastated if he missed, so I went as far away as possible. I needn’t have worried he was as cool as a cucumber and slotted it home in the top corner 3-2! At that point I completely lost it and ran from where I was onto the pitch to celebrate with my Son and the team. Leaving an official trailing in my wake who was desperate to stop me, I made it to the celebrations. Without doubt one of the proudest and best moments I’ve had as a Dad. All was captured on film and can be seen on my Facebook page. The video has been viewed more than 2000 times and we’re still laughing and talking about it now. That meant we were through to the quarter-finals and we were going to have play another game that night. At this point the weather had deteriorated to wind and rain, so was not the best conditions for a football match. Whether or not it was the weather, tiredness or that they were playing a very good team we got gubbed 5-0, that team went onto lose in the final. The dream had ended, but not without some great memories on the way. The boys had been brilliant and we couldn’t have wished for anything more. All I can say is if your son or daughter has a chance to go to one of these tournaments don’t hesitate to send them. Also if you have a chance to go too then go it’s great fun and good for your Spanish!
Whilst we were away Real Mallorca won 2-0 at home to move into 5th place, a play-off position and 6 points off automatic promotion. This weekend they are away to the team just below them Malaga. A point would be a good return considering Mallorca’s poor away form. Atlético Baleares won again to maintain their 7 point gap at the top of their league with 4 games to go. They are at home on Sunday against Valencia Mestalla. If they win and others around them lose they could be assured of 1st place and 2 bites of the promotion cherry.
Enjoy your weekend!
Richie presents the Radio One Mallorca Breakfast show Monday to Friday 07.30-11.00am on 93.8fm in Mallorca and 102fm in Calvià, online at www.radioonemallorca.com on mobile through their free App for IPhone & Android, The Tunein Radio App, iTunes, the Spanish TDT TV service and all smart speakers. . If you can’t hear him on the radio then you’ll find him working at Pirates Adventure the islands number one night out and every now and again he may make an understudy appearance!
Feel free to email him at rprior@globobalear.