On the second day we set off to explore the city centre and did a quick scout around the stadium as this was match day Athletic Club vs. Espanyol. We spent a lot of time walking around the city centre taking note of the how the city had been physically built. Giant accommodation tower blocks sitting on top of shops all tightly packed close together with very little space (if any) between one block to the next. Must had a small alcove either for pedestrian or car access often they had a relatively small sculpture/ piece of art placed at the centre and for the most part they were surrounded by graffiti.
Don’t listen to what anyone else tells you, on our way to the Athletic Club Stadium “La Catedral” we got lost loads and I mean loads, far too many to count. Getting lost is something we did most of all to be honest, this may have been down to my terrible map and sense of direction but what it provided was basically an unintentional derive a day.
The Stadium is modest, with ticket booths, a rear entrance for players and a small official gift shop all other space is dedicated to the game and the fans. We had found many small but long bars proudly flying the Athletic Club and Basque flags and we watch the game from one close to the stadium. Close enough that if you were to stick your head outside bar for moment you could hear the cheers from the stadium.
Personally while I couldn’t understand what the supporters in the bar were saying, moaning or in some cases yelling at the television it appear that the crowd in the bar shared many characteristics with any other bar in England when the football game is on. However there were far more children and families together watching in the bar late at night than expected. No matter what the passion was certainly felt. The last thing of note in this bar was “ETA” scratched/burned/graffiti into the bathroom ceiling.
What was brilliant to see was not only that there were Athletic Club and Basque flags everywhere which has already been mentioned (not a single other football club flag to be seen) but also getting swept up in the crowd on the way to the game surrounded by scarf’s, flags being worn proudly and Athletic Club jerseys.
The game finished 3-3 which is why we would imagine the fans on the way out of the stadium were demonstrating the stereotypical passionate exuberance of Spanish football fandom.
Oh and we got lost on the way back to the hotel again, it was also very wet.
IMScouting (2012) Athletic Club Vs. Espanyol [online] available from <http://www.imscouting.com/match-highlight/feb-4-2012-athletic-club-vs-espanyol-spain-primera-division/1003400/> [3/25 2012]