The Hamburger Chronicles

One of life’s great dilemmas is when you travel to an away match and are unsure of where and when to eat.  In the south-west of Madrid on Friday night, in the town known as Leganés, I ask the stressed-out barman in ‘El Tiburon’ (The Shark) if we could partake of two hamburgers, the ‘Tiburón’ special and ‘El Clásico’, the latter’s ingredients seeming to have little connection to the famous game it appears to be named after, but then again the former is also struggling to justify itself, with a certain lack of shark-infested waters to the south-west of Madrid.  It’s 21.15 and the Leganés-Real Sociedad game starts in exactly an hour, about ten minutes’ walk from the Shark.  The pallid old barman shakes his head; ‘It’ll take a while’ he says, nodding his head sideways to the kitchen, in which a lone frantic woman is cooking in a frenzy, as opposed to a frying pan. Continue reading “The Hamburger Chronicles”

Liga Fever’s season to come

Welcome back to the party, dear readers, and we hope you had a good summer because now it’s over and you will from now on be obliged to sit at home and watch La Liga unfold yet again like a late-blooming flower, all multi-coloured petals, stripes and diagonals (Rayo, Huesca, Girona), centenary white (Valencia) all topped off nicely by the yucky puce of Valladolid – but we wish them no ill-will.  Continue reading “Liga Fever’s season to come”

¿Kantera de Lezama? Mis huevos.

A mí me hace cierta gracia cuando el Bobby Charlton de la política, ese Iñaki Anasagasti del peinado tan bonito, acusa a La Real de tener a ‘mercenarios’ en su plantilla.  Pues hombre, con la pinta que tiene sería mucho más sensato callarse, pero bueno – si quiere llamar la atención más aún, será su problemilla.  No obstante, hay que confesar que Iñaki tiene cierta razón sobre los mercenarios, porque es verdad que los ha habido en la plantilla de La Real, aunque curiosamente ya entrenan en Lezama y juegan en el Athletic, y conducen coches mucho más chulos que los que conducían cuando entrenaban en Zubieta, si no me equivoco. Continue reading “¿Kantera de Lezama? Mis huevos.”

More than numbers

On Ronaldo’s Real Madrid tenure

Note: This is a highly personal account of Cristiano Ronaldo’s tenure as a Real Madrid player. To throw in some relevant background, I have to say that I don’t attach much importance to individual accolades in a sport that uses eleven players plus subs, and that I also believe that it’s almost impossible to decide who the GOAT is in most sports, especially football.

Continue reading “More than numbers”

It’s the Balls!

I was recently reminded by a reader that in the old ESPN days of yore, I used to do my top eleven La Liga players of the season, with a subs’ bench to boot.  This was often compared to Sid Lowe’s ‘The Sids’, and sundry debates did unfold. Ah well, Sid’s super famous now, but I guess if folks still want to know mine, we can just call it ‘The Balls’. I did once suggest that to ESPN, but as you know, it’s a family site. Here on Liga Fever, we can do what the hell we like.

It's the balls!

Continue reading “It’s the Balls!”

Shaking off the Quixote effect (2006)

*With the World Cup comin’ up, this was a piece I wrote for the New York Times in 2006, just after Spain had lost to France in the World Cup.  It was the last time the national side were to really suffer from the ‘Quixote effect’, and looking back, it’s interesting how the piece quietly predicts the changes to comeIf you prefer, the original is here:

I recall a time when Rod Stewart was still able to write songs. He composed a ditty entitled “Every Picture Tells a Story” some time way back in the previous century, and I remember the opening lines well: Continue reading “Shaking off the Quixote effect (2006)”