Archive for January, 2019
San Sebastian Is Not Only Foals And Horses

 

Who doesn’t like a dip in the sea, it’s refreshing, cleansing, and invigorating. Initially wary, the horses, ponies, and even the odd camel, were soon lapping up the waves at Playa de La Enramada beach in La Caleta, Tenerife. The San Sebastian fiesta is a highlight of the Adeje calendar and around 10,000 people swarmed to the church plaza and then the beach to enjoy the special day.

I arrived as the peel of the church bells floated through the clear blue sky,soon to be followed by the noon mass. Outside the church terrace was packed with tables full of guitar and timple players, and giant paellas washed down with beer and wine. Sheep and goats roamed in their pens, and horses were groomed and decorated in the paddock area. There were some magnificent looking steeds trotting through their paces on the road, there was an air of pride to them, they knew this was their big day.

The crowds drifted down to the beach as the mass reached its conclusion, good vantage points were soon snapped up, hotel balconies brimmed with people, and para gliders swooped down from the sky. Preparations were being fine tuned, life guards and safety boats kept watch over the beach as barriers held the eager crowds back. The first of the horses cantered onto the beach, a little unsure of the shifting shingle but the sea air and knowledgeable riders encouraged and coaxed them towards the shore. Once over their early reluctance the horses revelled in the water giving themselves and riders a good cool down. Several children either rode with adults on horses or dipped into the shallows with ponies. It was a beautiful sight, and an important cultural landmark that is lovingly preserved each year.

La Caleta has come a long way from being a small fishing village, the shore side restaurants are still a magnet for those wanting to taste the local catch but the newer five star hotels loom large on the landscape. There was plenty more celebrating to be done as riders steered their horses back to steadier ground and dismounted for some well deserved food and drink. Viva San Sebastian!

He Aint Heavy He’s San Antonio

Lifted aloft and carried around the heart of Arona town, San Antonio Abad had pride of place at the first Tenerife Romeria of 2019. It was a busy day with so many animals to bless, processions to watch, and music and dancing to behold.

There were plenty of takers for the free coaches organised by Arona council from Playa de Las Americas, and Los Cristianos, and the public bus service Titsa added extra buses to their route as well. The Plaza Cristo de la Salud was the focal point, I arrived as the tiny church was bursting at the seams with worshippers who were joined by musicians and dancers. The mayor, Jose Julian Mena was decked out in traditional Canarian dress and leant a shoulder to help carry the statue of the saint out of the church and into the bright sunlit plaza. Drummers, pipers, and dancers provided a joyous welcome to boost the happy mood.

To the side of the church stalls sold Canarian food and crafts while outlets in the plaza sold food and drink. Those taking part in the celebrations had plenty of small wine glasses strung around their costumes to toast the special day. Six carts stood tall on their giant wooden wheels with cattle ready to pull them along. Music was breaking out all the way up the road as finishing touches were put to clothes and overhead balconies. Slowly the procession fell into line and started its slow journey around the edges of the plaza before dipping down to the centre of town and returning up a side road. While this was going on, San Antonio was delivered to his stage ready to look over the blessing of the working animals and the many domestic pets brought along.

The animals were anointed with a sprinkling of holy water as singers sang the praises of the favoured saint. Some fancy footwork was called for as some creatures had left little presents behind. It wasn’t just live animals enjoying the day, there were several home made friends including a goat and a pig. The many children in the crowd were loving their taste of tradition, all ages are encouraged to join in the fun. After the blessings, San Antonio was carried back into the church, again accompanied by musicians and dancers. As the animals returned to their fields and pastures, the council workers were already power washing and cleaning the streets on the procession route.

The main stage came to life then with the first of several large groups which soon had people up and dancing. It was destined to be a late night for the hard core revellers, and who could deny them after all the hard work and dedication that goes into the Romeria.

Sharper Focus Through CD Tenerife’s New Year Window

Give up this, that, and everything. It’s that time of year when those smug promises get right on your pip. Thank goodness CD Tenerife showed that giving up is not on their agenda, this was a spirited and defiant start to 2019 for a 2-1 home victory over an Elche team just above them in the lower half of the table.
The squad looked smaller than ever as Bryan Acosta tied up his big money move to Dallas FC, and several fringe players were politely encouraged out of the exit door, ready for some January transfer window arrivals. There were some towering performances from those left behind, in particular Jorge in defence, and Malbasic at his bruising best up front. There were a few early jitters, Benja flashed a shot wide of the home goal, and 10th minute injury replacement Manu, continually exposed Raul Camara at right back. Tenerife refused to be ruffled and got better as the game went on, Suso had a full head of steam and led by example, Milla was cool and composed, and Malbasic looked hungry for the ball.


The 22nd minute opener for Tenerife was a class act, starting from a Dani Hernandez clearance, the team stroked the ball upfield until a perfect pass from Milla found Malbasic who crashed the ball past the keeper. Former home legend Nino was honoured before the game for his past heroics in the white shirt but he looked to be nearing the end of his career, Benja was by far the greater threat, he beat Alberto but was denied by a crisp tip over from Dani. It marked a busy spell for the goalie as he forced Flores to fire wide. Just after the half hour a speculative Elche ball into the area caught Alberto on the turn and he deflected it with his hand to give away a penalty. Torres converted the kick to send the teams in level at the break.


Tenerife came back out charged up and gave goalie Francis plenty to deal with. Luis Milla crashed a shot against the post, the woodwork has been a saviour for several visiting teams this season. Suso went on one of his determined runs and squared the ball to Naranjo who tried a scissor kick shot that would have been spectacular if it hadn´t found the keepers body. Naranjo should have done better with his next effort, this time hitting it tamely into the side netting. On the hour a set piece undid Elche, a floated ball from Milla into the box was met by a majestic glancing header from Jorge to make it 2-1. There was no resting on the advantage, Montañes and Undabarrena both went close. Nano replaced Naranjo and nearly cashed in after Malbasic powered through the defence and laid the ball off. The sub must have thought he was cursed when a few minutes later his kick came back off the post and he got a head to it but couldn´t steer it past Francis.

Carlos Ruiz got a run out in place of Suso, and Joao Rodriguez had to make do with just the last three minutes action but a booking for Suso takes him to a suspension, that should give the Colombian an extended outing at Real Oviedo. The win was enough to lift Tenerife to 16th place, but just as important it lifted the 9,859 crowd with hints of better times to come.

Kings Aint What They Used To Be

Less of a touch down and more of a let down. That was the arrival of the Three Kings in Los Cristianos for Reyes Eve, 5th January. For the first time it was announced that they would arrive at the Cultural Centre by helicopter, a method used for many years by Santa Cruz, and Adeje, with their football grounds as the destination. An expectant crowd were drawn like a magnet for the 6 pm arrival. The Helidreams helicopter circled twice, the second time it flew on over the roof and into the distance, just as a spotlight picked out the waving kings on the centre’s rooftop balcony. They might as well have said they were on board a passing tourist plane heading into the south airport.

However, the other changes to the evening’s programme were much better received. The host at the Cultural Centre did her best to build the excitement among the estimated 20,000 fans who were focused on the stage and giant screen. Grabbing the waiting camels, Gaspar, Melchor, and Baltasar led the parade towards and around the church plaza, and along Avenida de Suecia. This was the opposite direction to previous years and allowed Arona council’s hard working staff to dismantle the stage and crowd barriers near the main crossroads of town, and to get the traffic flowing again. Cartoon and comic characters (Disney and Marvel) dominated but there were plenty of lovingly created costumes, and the happy sound of music. Sweets cascaded down as the kings showered their followers, balconies and upper windows were packed.

The end destination this year was a stage outside the Casa del Mar, in the open area between the old beach and the tunnel to Las Vistas beach. Thankfully the chilly gusting wind subsided so the long queues could snake their way through to each of the kings as the lucky children were called up to receive their presents. Several shops in the run up to Reyes offer a service to have gifts wrapped and added to the lockers of the kings to delight the children on the night. Normally these presentations would take place on the steps of the Cultural Centre, the new site seemed more exclusive to those involved, without curious passers by.

There´s no diluting the joy and excitement on the faces of children and parents as they unwrap their big night of the year. It was good that they tried something different to shake things up this year, maybe next time the helicopter will land, even if it´s nearby and relayed on the big screen. The earlier start will have been greatly appreciated by parents, and the boom in trade around local bars and restaurants had the tills singing a merry tune.

San Silvestre Golden Mile Is A New Year Honour

It was not about the few pounds that had appeared in December, or pre empting the New Years resolutions to get fit. The 3rd Arona San Silvestre Golden Mile run was a fun gathering for all ages, on the edge of Playa de Las Americas and Los Cristianos in Tenerife,with 19 categories of races from short dashes for young children of 4 and 5 upwards, to the full 5 km route down to the sea, along the front, and back along The Golden Mile. It’s fame is growing, and the afternoon farewell to 2018 had an international feel, with the two overall winners coming from Germany.

Jannik Arbogast headed the field with a time of 15.28.39 and Johanna Flacke was the leading lady in 18.26.57. They were in a party of five friends from Karlsruhe , near the southern border of Germany, members of the local athletics club and also keen cyclists with Bikronos. The run was the perfect topping for their two week training trip to Tenerife. In between them, second placed Ayoze Perez Tejera (no 3), representing Trivalle Guimar Restaurante, clocked 15.35.09, and third overall was Miguel Angel Vaquero Agama (no 2) for the Tenerife Caja Canarias team in 15.41.51. Wigs and multi coloured skirts were a good clue to distracted shoppers and holiday makers that it wasn’t all about winning.

Running with a group of friends was a popular idea, the Charco del Pino Farmacia werea great advert for good health, in fact they were in the pink. Sport and Beers might not be recommended by some doctors but their team still had a healthy orange glow at the end of the race. Evolution with their Santa suited under his red robes, poured themselves some cold Dorada’s at the end of their team effort. Trust the Glasgow ladies to find the Dorada, but you do have to replenish your liquids. Pauline Douglas, a fitness instructor, and Valarie Davidson were over on a weeks holiday, saw an advert for the race, and signed up.


There was a good sprinkling of British in the run, 60 year old Phllip Seddon is a keen runner with Darwen Dashers in Lancashire. As well as being a regular in the London Marathon, he had recently taken part in the Cyprus Marathon, and his Tenerife holiday was boosted when he saw an advert for the San Silvestre. Wigan now has a reputation as the running capital of the UK, after an amazing haul by five family friends. Sami and Zak Manir-Jolley took the first places in their junior categories, Lynn Manir-Jolley got second in hers, a feat equalled by 16 year old Ben Woods, Mo Manir-Jolley added a third in his own group. Lynn and Mo run for Wigan Phoenix, and the other three are members of Wigan Harriers. Watch out for Ben Woods, he is also an accomplished footballer who plays for the Academy team of Burnley FC.


It took a mammoth effort by Arona Council and their team of organisers to make the afternoon run so smoothly with 800 runners taking part. The entrance fee was a mere five or ten euros depending on how early you signed up, and that included a commemorative vest, medal, and extra awards for the top three in each category. There was also plenty of free water, bananas, and even cake to replace the runners energy after their exertions. Look out for the 31st December 2019 race at www.gesportcanarias.com

Goalies Catch The Glory in La Liga Promises

Gonzalo made a brilliant double save to keep Real Madrid hopes alive as they trailed in the second half of the final of the 2018 La Liga Promises Under 12’s Tournament in Tenerife. Then in a penalty shoot out his two stops were vital. In between, Pisoni, the Inter Milan stopper failed to hold a late shot, allowing Jacobo to force an extra five minutes, followed by penalties. Pisoni was voted best goalie of the tournament, and Gonzalo ended in tears of joy as his team lifted the trophy. What emotion, what drama, and what a pleasure to see so many young players who will ensure the beautiful game has a rich future.


Three days with 16 teams from six different countries produced plenty to admire at the Estadio Antonio Dominguez Stadium in Playa de Las Americas. The four qualifying groups started it off with games of 12 minutes each way on the half sized pitch. Abu Dhabi Sports Council were the unknown quantity, they leaked a lot of goals as did my home side CD Tenerife, and island neighbours UD Las Palmas, all three couldn´t get through the first stage but will have learnt from their experience.

Villareal, and Espanyol looked good as they cruised over the first hurdles, they played hard, and like all the squads they rotated their bench to keep their seven on pitch players fresh. With the world watching via TV, personal sportsmanship was impeccable from all quarters, they even looked cool and mature when interviewed at pitch side. Looking at some of the coverage on the giant screen, I have to say the Tenerife setting was a pretty impressive backdrop. At that age the players develop at different rates so there were fascinating contrasts between powerful big lads, and smaller, nippy players with a lower centre of gravity. Football is a great leveller, a Real Betis player wore glasses, not a common sight in football, but he was one of their best performers.


By the night of the final, it was now 20 minutes a half, with the added pressure of a peak crowd of 5,000 fans, quite a test of nerves. Inter Milan came out stronger, Michele Scienza scored after three minutes with a clever looped shot, after going close just before. Milan played a holding game that took the sting out of Madrid but that changed in the second half as Milan tired and Madrid opened up their defence. Pisoni and Gonzalo both seemed to have an extra pair of hands as they produced a string of top saves. The seconds were ticking down when a soft shot was like a hot potato to Pisoni and Jacobo buried the ball past him with a powerful header with seconds to spare. Five minutes extra play couldn´t separate the teams and penalties were indicated. It was even at a spot kick success each when Gonzalo saved from Inter, and his team mate Pablo stroked home the clincher.

Both sides had given everything and emotions flowed, Milan were gracious in defeat and quick to congratulate the winners. Winning coach Juanjo Crespo and his players shed more tears as they paraded the trophy and their individual medals. Real Madrid dominated the early days of the tournament, they racked up six wins but the latest was even sweeter for the 16 year wait.