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Our neighbors Castellón, doing well in a cup you've never heard of

If you think the Copa del Rey format is ridiculous, take a look at the secondary Spanish cup competition (yes, there is one). Our neighbors Castellón are competing in it

Most European countries have more than one competition for club sides.  The most famous is usually one like the FA Cup or Coupe de France, in which all clubs, amateur or professional, can typically compete; then there is a secondary competition (like the FA Trophy) where clubs above a certain level are excluded.

Some countries' leagues also have competitions: the Coupe de la Ligue in France, for instance, or the League Cup in England (sometimes, there is also a secondary competition here for the smaller clubs, too).

So, what about Spain?  The Copa del Rey is the FA Cup equivalent, though the smaller size of the Spanish league, as well as the authorities' unwillingness to actually countenance a competition where the large clubs might get knocked out early, has led to a competition where only the Primera teams really take an interest in the thing, and even some of them abandon interest once the draw comes out since the prize money on offer is quite small.

But if you thought the two-legged Copa del Rey format was stale and many clubs considered participating to be pointless, you haven't seen anything until you look at Spain's second club competition, the Copa Federación.  It's open to teams in the Segunda B and Tercera Divisións.

The competition has two phases: the first involves competitions in 18 "autonomous communities" (provinces), of which the Valencian Community is one.  It's done this way, I guess, in an attempt to swell regional pride, but primarily to keep travel costs low, which makes sense given the winner of each regional tournament gets a whopping €3,005!! (about $4000).

Those 18 winners are joined in the national phase of the tournament by clubs from the Segunda B and below who were eliminated in the first round of the Copa del Rey.   There were 18 of these clubs (obviously, the number can be a bot different each year) but 6 of those chose not to play in this competition--that should show you how much this cup is valued!!

So, the "round of 32" consisted of 30 clubs, and in fact after the draw another team withdrew, so three clubs got byes into the round of 16.  Part of the reason is surely that there isn't any to speak of until you get to the semifinals;  then there is a whopping--wait for it--€12,020 given to each team.  The winner gets just over €90,000 and the runnerup €30000 odd.

This cup was first played for in 1944-45, but went on hiatus from 1953 to 1993.  It's never been won by a Valencian representative, and only one (Benidorm) made it to the final.  That club no longer exists, which is another common theme; in fact, the defending cup champion, Ourense, was liquidated in July 2014, so there is no "defending champion" per se.

Two years ago, only one Valencian team bothered to enter, but last year Novelda actually made it to the semis and got a bit of money.  This time round the Valencian Community tournament involved six teams (Villarreal B and C did not participate).  Castellon won the prize as top club, defeated Puertollano in the round of 32, and has now been drawn against Osasuna B in the round of 16.

I know most Castellón supporters (there are a few) don't care much for Villarreal, but I tend to think anything that improves the position of the Castellón-Vila-real region is a good thing, so I'm wishing the black and white club success in January.   I'll let you know how they fare.