Summer Nights in Madrid…and Other Tales of Spain - part 1

El Madrigal alight for Elche's visit - Laura M.

Sid's trip to Spain stops in Barcelona and Valencia. Then the big Villarreal vs. Elche match at El Madrigal. Let's start with the pregame festivities.

Washington to Paris to Barcelona. Thus began a somewhat epic vuelta a España (amidst the Giro d’Italia) by train and bus through Valencia, Madrid, Bilbao, San Sebastián, and Pamplona. And Vila-real, of course.

We arrived in Valencia in time for the hosts’ 4-0 thrashing of Osasuna at Mestalla, but the local taxistas were understandably underwhelmed by Los Che in 2012-13. Interesting to hear the frustration with the club’s transfer policy, losing David Villa, David Silva, and Juan Mata without obtaining adequate replacements over the past few seasons. From an outsider’s perspective, however, you might cast a wider net to blame club mismanagement, the failed Nou Mestalla project, and complicity by Bankia and the provincial government. To each his own.

Villarreal hosted Elche in the noon kickoff on Sunday, so we took the regional train mid-morning to the town of 50,000 inhabitants. Thousands of ilicitano supporters made the trip, so we were outnumbered on the hour-plus ride in the direction of Castellón. But credit the Elche fans for good behavior amidst a raucous post-match celebration. And almost to a man, every Elche supporter expressed a desire to return next season for the same fixture in the Primera: ojalá.

We arrived at the Vila-real train station to a surprise: an impromptu greeting party featuring our loyal supporter Robin and Belgian penya Els Flamencs Grocs, also in town for the match. It was not the last time I would be confused with A-lister Ravi, whom local fans recognized from his appearances on radio announcer Javi Mata’s local show. With spirits buoyed and cobwebs shaken of jetlag, we hopped into Robin’s car for the surprisingly winding ride to El Madrigal.

Vila-real appears a sleepy town on most days, but the pre-match festivities stretch for many blocks. Yellow jerseys abound on the backs of locals, and the grua (municipal towing authority) earns its pay thanks to parking restrictions. We got out in the official lot -- full on Primera match days, but empty when we arrived around 10:30 am -- and sat for a coffee in front of El Madrigal. After a mild spending spree at the club store, we were ready to enjoy the match.

The Agrupación de Penyas (APV) took over from there -- wonderful people. They welcomed us to their club office around the corner from El Madrigal, loaded us up with beverages, and invited us to "sit" in their section for the match. With a boisterous group of horn blowers and drummers in tow, we arrived at El Madrigal just in time for kickoff.

Part 2 on the match to follow.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Villarreal USA

You must be a member of Villarreal USA to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Villarreal USA. You should read them.

Join Villarreal USA

You must be a member of Villarreal USA to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Villarreal USA. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker