By Kieran Ford
Just Madrid for me, no way into the stadium unfortunately. With SUCH an incredible demand for such a small amount of tickets, it was no surprise to hear those stories of touts selling them for thousands, people selling fakes and even mock security guards attempting to rob people of them.
To be fair, there were tens of thousands of fans who headed to Madrid with no expectation of actually going to the game, so the atmosphere around the entire city was still buzzing.
Ridiculously Priced Flight Tickets Too
Fortunately, living in Portugal, the flights out to Madrid were a fraction of what they were from London. My brother and two mates headed out to meet me, and we headed from Porto to Madrid on the Friday before the big match.
After a short but bumpy flight, we genuinely thought it was all over before we’d even got there at one point… The commemorative shirts, flags and minute silences flashed before our eyes! But we made it.
Being an all English affair, there were major concerns over hooliganism. Media outlets had notified fans that despite putting on a grand ‘Champions Festival’ with designated Fan Zones for each side, there would be no big screens showing the game.
Yep… What a joke. So, the Fan Zones welcomed us in to enjoy highlights, interviews and other build up on the perfectly set up huge screens, but come 6 o’clock (3 hours before kick-off) everyone would be asked to leave.
Brilliant. What an excellent idea – Boot tens of thousands of rival fans out of their designated areas to descent upon the local Madrid bars in hunt of a decent place to watch the match they’d sacrificed so much for.
I spoke to people who’d flown from New Zealand, Australia, America, paid thousands for flights and accommodation, pulled sickies at work, had blazing rows with their partners and been on ridiculous three flight and bus journey trips to get there.
…And then we were being told that we wouldn’t even be able to watch the game and would be better off to have stayed at home!
“The extremely unfortunate handball penalty award after 23 seconds was just the worst possible start. A HUGE sucker punch to kill the mood.”
Rumours were even beginning to spread that the bars would close before the match to avoid any potential trouble. Another issue was the fact that we all wanted to watch it with English commentary.
So, apartment sorted, we were straight out on a mission. You can always count on an Irish bar to make you feel at home, right? Luckily there are plenty of them to choose from in Madrid.
First stop, James Joyce. Bearing in mind this is still the Friday before, the place was absolutely heaving! Fans from both sides were in there singing their hearts out about Spurs and Liverpool. But it was all in good spirits. Classic British banter as opposed to this hooliganism brush we’d all been tarred with.
Anyway, the mood was dealt a downer when we asked the security after a pint or so if we could watch the game there tomorrow, he told us it was reservations only and they’d been booked out for over a month.
Madrid Pub Crawl?
Onto the next of nine Irish bars we’d shortlisted then, O’Brian’s – A huge two storied Irish sports bar. The atmosphere was even more buzzing in there, AND it seemed to be 90% fellow Spurs fans.
The icing on the cake was the security telling us they were open from midday for the match and it would be first come first serve. Sorted.
It was too good to leave. We stayed for the duration of the night singing all the top Spurs songs and convincing each other that we were going to win the Champions League… The Champions League!
It’s Match Day
Out of bed, straight off to meet another couple of mates and into the nearest bar for grandes cervezas all around. Not even midday yet and not a crumb of food in the belly. Add a heavy night before to that and I was struggling… big time.
Headed off solo to check into my hostel then explored the city to check out the happenings around town. That soon perked me up, but I got a bit caught up in it all.
Fellow Spurs fans recognising the cockerel on my chest and making gestures and chants at me, the odd scouser throwing jeers my way too. The atmosphere throughout the city was everything I’d hoped for when I booked to be in Madrid.
Where are you?
The only problem was that they had got themselves into O’Brian’s nice and early, as instructed.
I started making my way but the main roads along the route were closed off, so I had to take the long way around past many of the other packed out bars.
Finally made it to the bar and my heart sank – a HUGE bundle of squashed and shouting Spurs fans were pushing from up against the door to about 50 meters back, left, right and centre… Nightmare.
(♫) Last Night These Two Bouncers… (♫)
I slithered my way though, Son-esque, and managed to get pretty close to the doors. It reminded me of pushing my way to the front of a headline act at a music festival. It was crazy uncomfortable!
So, with my face brushing against a sweaty man’s curls in front, two or three elbows digging into my back, the Spanish sun blazing down and people getting more and more agitated by the minute, we remained like this for 3 hours… The bouncers not saying a word. Sometimes sneering, sometimes videoing us! It was incredibly annoying.
Eventually rumour broke that they’d open the downstairs area at 6 and let us in. That hour felt like a lifetime and even when it arrived, nothing changed.
Getting on for 7, people began to drip in. And I mean DRIP… Like one person every 5 or 10 minutes… I edged closer and when I eventually got to the front, staring into the faces, a bit too close for comfort, to the pumped up, ridiculously built bouncers, I realised why entry was dripping so slowly…
I caught one of them counting a wad of cash. And I mean a WAD. The greedy scumbags were holding people at the door until they resorted to getting a 20 or 50 Euro note out to slip to them. They wouldn’t ask for it, obviously because they feared getting caught, you just had to work it out.
I stood there wondering if a fiver would surpass, haha! Then I just made it clear that I’d seen what they were doing and they reluctantly let me in. The guy behind me arrived shortly after and told me he’d paid 150 euros for him and his two mates… An absolute joke.
Those painful hours were soon forgotten about when my brother and mates spotted me on entry and started singing “YIDO! YIDO!” Which the whole crowd joined in with. COYS!
After another couple of hours belting out Spurs songs, the nerves kicked in and people settled for the kick-off.
To be honest, but unsurprisingly, I don’t really have much to say about the game. The extremely unfortunate handball penalty award after 23 seconds was just the worst possible start. A HUGE sucker punch to kill the mood. Of course it was converted and then it was uphill from there…
I think everyone agreed, it just wasn’t a very entertaining game of football. Most of the match was spent with Spurs passing it around the middle of the field before the attack breaking down. There were odd chances here and there but nothing was really happening.
I agree that Lucas should have started ahead of Kane, but I’ll admit I was still pleased to see him there ready at the whistle.
When that second goal slid into the bottom corner it was just pure frustration, disappointment, everything along those lines at once… Crushing. The dream was over.
The Final Whistle
Plenty of tears, rants, hugs and then a final song or two. All in all we were still proud of our team, they’d been expected to achieve nothing in the Champions League yet came so far.
The fans mixed for the rest of the evening around the streets, squares and bars, and I didn’t see any trouble whatsoever.
To be fair to Liverpool they showed sympathy for us Spurs fans and of course, enjoyed celebrating their team’s historic win too.
I think we did the Brits proud by demonstrating that drunken football fans are capable of going abroad for a big occasion and just enjoying the event we were there for, without the violence, abuse and vandalism the people of Madrid seemed to expect from us.
The Long Ride Home
With flights sky high, I had to take the bus from Madrid to Lisbon on Sunday morning. 8 hours or so later, then another 2 hour bus journey, I arrived to where I’m staying here at the moment.
So, that’s a wrap on another football season. I’ll definitely miss it over the summer, but thankfully there’s some top music festivals coming up that I’m looking forward to enjoying and reporting on, for anyone who’s taking the time to actually read these rambles of mine!
Regarding Spurs, I hope we can hold onto Pochettino and our key players, bring some new ones in too and we should continue to rise!
Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.