¡Aupa Rayito! ⚡️
Is there any way to get them, I asked, I pleaded.
Not here, he replied, maybe illegal. He was very polite.
But there were no touts, not one.
So we found a bar facing the stadium. You couldn’t move but it emptied a little as kickoff approached and we got bar stools before it filled again with other fans. Our cast, our brethren. We were to get to know each other over the next couple of hours.
There was one guy with massive ears rivaled only by his huge nose, a small fella with earphones who updated us on radio news from the other eight games playing at the same time, a chirpy guy with no hair flanked by a woman on either side, a young fella in a Dead Kennedys t-shirt, a mad character in a straw hat who played the harmonica every so often, a group who yelled encouragement at the TV, and plenty of others who also played their parts. Everyone played their part.
In the end it was probably better than being in the stadium.
The game clipped along and brought everyone along with it. Anxious faces were eased by the odd burst of laughter. The humor was good.
Then someone shouted “gol!” and the pub erupted though there was no gol to be seen. Pumping fists, yelling, hugs and back-slapping. What the fuck?
Four or five seconds later Moreno did indeed score and the pub erupted again, only more wildly, unrestrained now we’d seen it with our own eyes on the TV.
Goooooooooooooooooolll!!! Even the barman was screaming, pumping his fists behind the taps, while people lost their heads around him. Gooooooooooooooooool!!! Gol! Gol! Gol!! Goooooolll!!
Jaysus, it was mad. The harmonica fella went bananas, nobody held anything back. AAAAAAAAAGHHH!!! Bedlam.
The same occurred in the second half when the pub went berserk again, twice due to the TV delay, but this gol was ruled out for offside. Nobody seemed to mind. The celebrations were wilder if anything than before – the barman knocked my beer off the counter all over my camera and shorts – and the celebrations continued from then on, gol or not. Somos de primera, they sang.
And right they were. Rayo won 1-0 to secure promotion back to La Primera after two years in the second division. ¡Aupa Rayito!
More hugs and felicitations all round. Then most people dashed out of the pub. We took leave of our new friends and dashed out too. Where to? We didn’t know, but we knew we had to go somewhere.
We crossed the road and waited a bit before marching into the stadium like we owned it. We were in! We made our way to the stand and clapped and sang with the rest of them. Alé, alé, alé alé alé….
Then the young fella climbed over a barricade and jumped down to the level below. I’d no choice but to follow him. I followed him and he followed me until we were on the pitch. The pitch! The security guards had given up at the stage. Everyone was going bananas, ape shit. There were people kneeling and kissing the grass, others spreadeagled like spread eagles and others taking selfies in case they forgot they were here for this momentous occasion.
We made our way up to the front where the Bukaneros were leading the chants. The party was only getting started. Some climbed up in the goals. Most just jumped and sang along. Alé, alé, alé alé alé....
The same Bukaneros had been there before the game when the team bus couldn’t proceed to the stadium due to the number of fans. The whole street was jammed with people singing, yelling, waving flags under giant clouds of smoke from all the flares.
There were more flares at the fuente where an opentop bus took the Rayo team after the game, but I had to take the young fella home at a semi-respectable hour so we missed those. But we’d seen enough and celebrated enough for one day and night – ¡¡Rayo es de primera!!