a little history lesson…
… and a little bit of an “all set for” post. Madrid takes on Borussia Dortmund tonight (20:45h) in the Champions League, and the run-up to that game gave us some great moments.
During the training session, Sergio guided Cris’ hand to his ass show him exactly where he’s hurting. Oh, to be Cristiano in that moment!
Then, during an interview with TVE, Mesut was asked to say something in Spanish (he had done the interview in German). He responded, “hola, soy Mesut, mañana es buen partido para vosotros, muy importante, creo que… ganamos este partido mañana, y ganamos estoy contento después.” More or less, that translates to “hello, I’m Mesut, tomorrow is a good game for us (he actually said you all, but I think he means “us,” which is nosotros), it’s very important, I believe… we will win the game tomorrow, and (if) we win, I’ll be happy afterward.” Of course he had to get his favorite word, contento, in there! Well, favorite word that he can say on TV, since I’m sure his teammates have taught him more interesting words.
Mesut also got door to door service later on, hopping directly from the car onto the team bus to begin the concentración, while the rest of his teammates had to trudge up that slope.
Once in a while, I’m asked what “MFC” stands for. It means “my favorite canterano,” and it is my nickname for Álvaro Borja Morata Martín. He became MFC during the pre-season three seasons ago, during this moment. And he was at it again on Monday! Adorable.
And here’s the history lesson, which is about an incident that took place 14 years ago.
The Santiago Bernabéu, April 1, 1998. Fifty days before the final of the Champions League (if Madrid made it, it would be their first one in 17 years), Real Madrid was playing Borussia Dortmund at home in the first leg of the semifinals. At 20:42h, the goal at the southern end of the stadium collapsed, as the back of the net was attached to a chain link fence that the Ultra Sur had been vigorously shaking and climbing (the fence was to prevent the radical fans from throwing objects onto the field, and for some reason, the net was attached to it). It couldn’t be fixed (though the grounds crew did try and repair it), there wasn’t a spare goal in the stadium, and the German team was telling the referee to go ahead and suspend the game. He decided to see if things could be fixed, and sent the teams back to the locker room.
Agustín Herrerín, now the beloved field delegate, was back then an assistant to the delegate, Julio Casabella (Agustín was 63 at the time). He got the idea of getting a goal from the training facility, and so he and former Madrid goalkeeper Miguel Ángel hurried to the old Ciudad Deportiva (back then, it was located a couple of kilometers north of the stadium). There wasn’t anyone at the entrance, so Herrerín had to jump over the fence, ripping his pants in the process. Then they ran into Cándido Gómez, a truck driver, who had been working and was having his dinner at that moment, and asked to borrow his truck. A goal was located and loaded onto Gómez’s truck. It received a police escort down La Castellana, and arrived at the Bernabéu at 21:45h. The goal was carried onto the field to an ovation, and 15 minutes later, the game started. Madrid ended up winning 2-0 behind goals from El Moro and Karembeu. The second leg finished 0-0, securing Madrid a place in the final in Amsterdam. And we know what happened after that – La Séptima! By the way, UEFA fined Madrid 115 million pesetas and ordered that the stadium be closed for one game.
TVE has great vintage footage of the incident, including the moment the goal collapsed due to the actions of the hooligans, the efforts to fix it, and the problems the new goal faced when being carried onto the field. They also got Agustín (I adore how he’s dressed) to look back on the incident. He says that they went to the Ciudad Deportiva at 100 kilometers an hour, and ran into Cándido Gómez having dinner and about to leave for Ciudad Real. He asked him for help to bring the goal to the stadium. It took the combined efforts of all the Madrid employees, Cándido and his assistant, and the police to load the goal onto the trick. It was chaos. He drove back to the Bernabéu behind the truck and with the police, who had their sirens on.
We also see that today, spare goals are kept at the Bernabéu.
And AS spoke with Cándido Gómez in this amusing interview.
Don Cándido, the hero of La Séptima was you and not Mijatovic…
(Laughs) You’re exaggerating. That was only an anecdote, a good one, but just an anecdote that I’ll always remember and tell my grandchildren. I only helped them to solve a problem.
A huge problem. Where were you when the goal collapsed?
I was with my nephew Juan Manuel working in the old Ciudad Deportiva. There was a fair and we were setting up a stand. While we were unloading the materials, we saw Agustín Herrerín and Miguel Ángel appear… along with eight police officers!
What went through your head in that moment?
Many things. They didn’t know what to do. They had a small van, and the only thing that could fit in there was a bag of balls. Herrerín was very pale. If he didn’t have a heart attack that night, he’ll never have one. And when he saw the truck, his eyes got wide. He came up to us, told us that he needed our truck to bring a goal and we got to work. But there was another problem.
The room where the goal was kept was locked and no one could find the keys.
So how did you manage to open the door?
With the truck.
We backed up and repeatedly hit the lock. It was like a smash and grab. Now I laugh about it, but the tension at that moment… in the end, all of us helped to load the goal onto the truck.
And it was onto the Bernabéu, how was that journey?
We sped over, it took us eight minutes to get there. We had a police escort, it was like we were the president. We drove on the wrong side of the road, we went down the middle of La Castellana, we ran through all the red lights…
What did the speedometer read?
Well, we were going as fast as the truck could go, 90 kilometers an hour. I couldn’t make it go any faster. We didn’t even drive around the roundabout to get to Concha Espina. We turned left, and since we were going so fast, the goal almost fell down upon us because we were in so much of a hurry that it hadn’t been tied down. It almost killed us.
Through which gate of the stadium did you enter?
We left the truck at La Esquina del Bernabéu, we unloaded the goal at that gate, but we had another problem with bringing it into the stadium. It took everything we had.
You went from setting up a stand to facing 80,000 people…
In that moment, I didn’t even think about that. We got the goal in, the club’s employees took it and we left.
You didn’t stay and watch the game?
They invited us to do that, but we left, we had to work.
Did you receive anything from the club?
They gave me 58,000 pesetas, as well as watches, an insignia and a ball signed by all the players. (Lorenzo) Sanz also thanked us.
What a story.
When we got home, we couldn’t believe it. In addition, I’m a madridista. Since then, I’ve been stopped and asked about that incident, even in Murcia.
And what became of the other protagonist, the truck?
I retired it eight years ago, after 2.5 million kilometers. I’m still working with the same company, Royma, in Fuenlabrada, although now with a van.