Tag Archives: Champions’ League

FC Barcelona, the penya and Primavera

So here we are. Unless things go on for much more than 90 minutes tomorrow evening, in 24 hours we’ll know the outcome of the Champions League final. F.C. Barcelona face Manchester United in what should be a mega-clasico of a match. We’re going to watch the game at the Penya Barcelonista de Cerdanyola del Vallès, the same bar where we saw Barça win three years ago, and where we saw them knock Chelsea out just three weeks ago.

If you’ve never been to an official penya (they exist for most football clubs but around here they’re predominantly F.C. Barcelona-affiliated), these official supporters’ clubs are often the finest places to watch a good football match, provided you back the penya‘s team. You need to make sure you get there early, though. For the second semi-final, I got there over an hour before kick-off and barely managed to snag a couple of stools in the non-smoking area (shock, horror!). For tomorrow’s game, I’ve booked a table in the smoking area – three years ago, I did the same thing, and when I offered my name, the owner simply shook her head and said ‘Els estrangers‘, ‘the foreigners’. This time, she at least admitted she knew me and allowed ‘Tom’ to go on her bit of paper. We’ll see how well this works out around 8 tomorrow evening.

I’ll avoid predicting the outcome of the game because my hope that Barça will win is far greater than any knowledge I’d ever profess to having of the game. Suffice to say: I reckon it’ll be hard for both clubs, and while Man U may be favourites, I do think that Barça can win it.

And if they do, it’ll set off a great long weekend of celebrations. Because while I’ll be in the office the next day, whatever happens, Thursday night sees the start of Primavera Sound – Barcelona’s pop festival and officially the first party of the summer (well, that’s what I always say). The lineup is pretty good, and this year I’ll probably be aiming to take in a few newer bands I don’t know so much about (any recommendations are welcomed). The festival runs until Saturday, but even better news is that Monday is ‘second Easter’, meaning we get another day off! Skill!

So it could be a brilliant few days or just a very good few days. And you can’t say fairer than that.

Força Barça!

Copa del Rei seen in Barcelona

As I was walking back from the Mississippi station today, I happened to bump into a TV3 OB team and a bunch of Culés. I asked a likely young lass if, perchance, El Barça would be coming through shortly and she confirmed that they were on their way.

I stood around for about five minutes and then spotted the TV3 team moving into the middle of the road, a surefire sign that the bus was on its way. And then, there it was. Heralded by flashing blue lights, cheers and foghorns, the Barça bus made its way across Carrer Numancia towads us. The cup itself was displayed proudly at the front of the bus, and some figures could be seen behind the tinted glass, waving and cheering. I imagine Eto’o led the chants.

Behind the bus was a fleet of hundreds of motos and cars, horns sounding and flags waving.

But this was fairly subdued by Barcelona standards. Everyone knows that within a couple of weeks, we could all be celebrating a much bigger triumph. If Barça can win the Champions League and secure a historic triple (yes, that’s a big if, but it’s there to be won), Barcelona will party for days on end.

(All 9 pics here. By the way, the pics aren’t great: I was using our compact camera and I was somewhat hurried)

2006 in review

Two thousand and six has been a pretty eventful year, politically and personally. While for me, the most important event was my wedding to Gemma at the end of September, numerous moments featuring Lt Gen Aguado, Spain Herald, Reial Madrid, FC Barcelona and Solidaridad Española Con Cuba have added spice, and traffic, to the site.

This has also been a year during which Catalan and Spanish nationalism have been among the top issues discussed on blogs, including thebadrash.com. Much has been written in these pages about how I am not a nationalist, nor a supporter of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya – the left-wing Catalan nationalist party. I have, however, spoken out several times against a series of myths and falsehoods which are circulated and often repeated by their critics. Beyond a broadly leftist outlook, I have no party loyalty here or in the UK. I’m most interested by the ways people use language when engaging in political debate – and this includes popular misconceptions about ERC as well as the PP.

This year’s FIFA World Cup wasn’t the most awe-inspiring tournament in history and I reckon it’ll be remembered as something of a low point for international football. But that doesn’t really matter because Barça won la Liga and the Champions League. I predict another league title for them but the Champions League is going to be much tougher. A final against Chelsea is possible but I don’t think that Barça would beat them. But they will have Eto’o and Messi back, so you never know. Anyway, they’ve got some hard work to put in before we need to start thinking about that.

I’ve spent a lot of time this year delving into the back catalogues of various artists on the roster of Drag City Inc., the Chicago based record label. While my obvious link with them is my passion for Royal Trux (I recently purchased “Hero / Zero” with the prestigious release code DC1), I’ve built a strong affinity for Silver Jews, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Neil Hamburger – who has left a comment on this very blog. We were also lucky enough to see Silver Jews in June on what was their first proper international tour despite a career of more than 10 years. They rocked.

As I said before, the highlight of my year was undoubtedly my wedding with Gemma. We had a fantastic weekend in Tarragona and then a splendid honeymoon in post-coup Thailand. We both fell in love with Bangkok and we’re looking forward to a trip to India next Christmas. Meanwhile, we’re passing this year’s holidays in Modbury, my home town in Devon, England.

It’s been a good year: let’s hope that we can say the same for 2007. Though I should mention that I’m not planning to marry again, just to boost ratings.