A Feast Of Blue And White


What a stirring tune the CD Tenerife anthem is, and Tenerife Adelante was blaring out as we entered the blue and white wonderland of a dining hall for the clubs pre christmas meal for the peñas (fan clubs) including the Armada Sur.

Our small but select band of ambassadors for the Armada Sur arrived at the Parque Maritimo pool complex in Santa Cruz for 8pm, only to find out it was a 9.30pm start. The solution was easy, we adjourned to a nearby bar, Voque Bar, rather posh but we soon lowered the tone. Suitably refreshed we headed back to the venue, I had been to the pools before to do a review, that time it was a hot afternoon and the pools were splashing. We were guided to the outside terrace of one of the big function halls, waiters circulated with drinks and aperatifs of ham and cheese croquettes, sweet nibbles of lemon and honey, and other tempting treats.

TV cameras were in attendance so naturally we burst into a rousing chorus of the Armada Sur song to the Hawaii Five O theme. The players were away on the mainland having played Espanyol with Almeria to come in two days, but captain Suso was in attendance as he was injured. Entering the hall was a visual feast, all the tables had been set out with peña name plates, a Mahou beer hat, and a CD Tenerife scarf. Side tables groaned with Tete themed cakes and there was a buzz of anticipation. Any thoughts of it being a slightly stuffy, formal night were soon blown away as terrace songs started breaking out across the tables. We were sharing with the Cesar Gomez peña, mature ladies but they were party animals.

Club President Miguel Concepcion was in relaxed mood and very much the genial host, I was quite taken with the waitresses black outfits, they made me think of the Robert Palmer video Addicted To Love. The background music was a strange mix of 80´s pop songs like Careless Whisper but there was no whispering as the noise level rose as the beer and wine flowed from the free bar. Then the food started to arrive, an intro of carrot soup would hopefully help my aged eyesight, and I had pre ordered the hake in the hope that fish might improve my befuddled brain. It was love at first bite and the service was very impressive with a full hall to cater for.

No sooner had we finished the caramel and chocolate sweet when the stage was taken over by a magic act, maybe the next coach in waiting? I was hoping he could make Las Palmas dissapear but settled for balloons and fire. All our tickets were numbered and a long, prize packed raffle followed, interspersed with more singing and chanting. It was a fabulous night, big thanks and respect to the club for arranging it, and the staff for carrying it out with such efficiency and good humour. It was all far removed from the rock hard rolls and alcohol free beer that are sold at the Heliodoro stadium.

Plugged In And Charged Up For Cup Sizzler


Mobile phones twinkled like stars around the darkened stadium, but after a half hour delay for power failiure, the players of CD Tenerife and Espanyol came out to light up the pitch with a scintillating 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Kings Cup clash. Both teams produced good football, the two goalies were immaculate to deny all that was thrown at them, blimey, even the referee had a good game!

La Liga side Espanyol had a wealth of top flight and European competition to call on but Tenerife had the hunger and some outstanding performances from their young defenders. Espanyol opened strongly with Sergio Garcia and Didac sharpening their claws but 21 year old Tenerife B team product Nahuel made the left back slot his own from his first touch, and on the right Luis Perez, just a year older, was also solid and stubborn. In the centre Avedaño supplied the older head but Spain under 21 player Jorge Saenz was in command with a mature and dominant display. Big things have been expected of 22 year old Carlos Abad, this was the night the Puerto de la Cruz born goalie showed he has the skills to push long term first choice Dani Hernnandez aside.

Brian Martin hit a strong early chance at old master Diego Lopez in the visitors goal, the first of many shots that seemed to home in on the keeper but great awareness and positioning help goalies to make it look easy. Bryan Acosta was a powerful creative force in the home midfield and Malbasic was full of running to seek the killer ball. The Serbian striker popped up with a clever overhead kick at the far post only to see Diego Lopez push the ball aside. Bryan Acosta hassled and won the ball before unleashing a shot just before half time, that man Lopez was all over it like a rash. Carlos Abad matched him at the other end to deny Granero, and 13,925 fans were left longing for the second half.

Juan Carlos replaced Aitor Sanz for the second half and the game was soon back to its frantic pace. Brian Martin cut in from the right but needed a bit more surprise in his shot to beat Lopez. Melendo came on for Espanyol and was a mix of sharp tackles and nifty moves, his curled shot gave Carlos another chance to shine. Casadesus took over from Brain Martin, the home grown striker needs to sharpen up but at 21 he has already come a long way this season. And will be back for more. Malbasic powered his way down the left but his cross was a bit wayward, Acosta´s balls in were much more clinical and caused chaos behind the visitors rear guard.

Longo returned to action after a month out injured as Malbasic went off to rapturous applause, the Italian striker was a little rusty but Casadesus had plenty of fire and rose for a fine long header that Lopez took cleanly. At the other end Carlos pulled off two class saves in succession, it seemed a draw was pre ordained. Acosta had the final effort but it went like a magnet to Lopez. There was just two minutes of injury time, although all the fans yearned for more. The away leg in four weeks time will be tougher, with Tenerife again the underdogs, but few will forget the home night that started like a pop concert and ended with the support act stealing the show.



A Green Seed Grows Proudly In Valle San Lorenzo

They´re fresh, they´re fruity, they´re delicious, and they´re locally produced in the Tenerife municipality of Arona. It was high time for a farmers market within easy reach of the tourist hot spots of the south and on Saturday 14 October 2017 the doors opened on the Mercado del Agricultor in Valle San Lorenzo.

With a high vaulted roof and plenty of glass I anticipated being boiled and poached inside the new building in Calle Cooperativa near the big Cepsa petrol station, but it was large, bright, roomy, and surprisingly cool despite the outside calima already hitting 31 degrees at 10 am. The market opens on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 am to 2 pm but the official launch we was geared to a 10 am ceremonial opening by the Alcalde (mayor) of Arona, Jose Julian Mena Perez. This fitted in nicely with free coaches from Playa de Las Americas and Los Cristianos, provided by the Arona Ayuntamiento (council) who have financed the market. Look out for those red coaches, they will continue to be free each Saturday and Sunday, 10 am from Las Americas, 10.15 from Los Cristianos, and 10.20 from Chayofa, with a 1 pm return calling at those three points.

Four wide aisles were lined with 60 stalls, nearly all in use, selling fruit, vegetables, pastries, and wine, many of them with the highest of eco friendly pedigrees. There were piles of potatoes, crowds of carrots, a plentitude of peppers, and cakes that would test anyones resolve to wait until tea time. Some of the more specialist items included, jams, teas, coffees, and breads. A show cooking display featured soup made from calabazo (a kind of gourd) and white cheese, a stage allowed for some live traditional Canarian music and dance, and there was even a childrens play room near the entrance.

As the seasons change there will be new wonders to behold, stocking for the festive season meals will be a lot easier and seasonal specials like chestnuts will feel cosy in their new surroundings. I arrived on the free bus but there are two regular Titsa public bus routes that pass through Valle San Lorenzo at the weekends, with stops a short hop from the market. I got a 418 Titsa bus destined for Playa de Las Americas bus station and bailed out in Los Cristianos, just 30 minutes and 1.15 euros with an advance Bono bus ticket.Go on, take a visit and you will realise how green is your Valle.

Full Moon Madness At Santa Cruz Plenilunio

Any excuse for a party, that´s the Tenerife way, so why not throw a huge annual bash in the streets of the capital city, Santa Cruz, all inspired by the full moon. The Plenilunio had reached it´s 7th year and true to form it wasn´t hanging around waiting for the silvery moon, That´s why just after noon I was confronted by a large group of mature men dressed as exotic female singers, complete with large phallic microphones.

That was at the African Market, a short walk from the bus station where my Titsa bus had delivered me from Los Cristianos. Stalls and costumes were taking shape in every side street, there were 27 stages and focal points for activities as well as mobile displays. In Calle Castillo, the main shopping street, the 101 Brass Band were strutting their stuff, diving in and out of shops, and updating recent pop hits. The weekly El Clavel market was squeezed in to a tight side street with its mix of retro fashion and musical memorabilia. Calle del Castillo is also home to the Circulo de Bellas Artes and I was keen to see the caped crusaders promoting a comic exhibition.

Vintage cars pop up at events all over Tenerife, their setting was particularly good this time, between the Cabildo (government) building and the Plaza de España with its monuments and lake. An Abingdon (near Oxford) built MG would have been tempting enough but add a delightful lady in an American GI uniform and I was purring. The port seemed a natural next call, especially as it was hosting the Cross Fast Civico Militar event, think along the lines of the poppy appeal Royal Tournament in London. The assault course looked hard work to me even without the rifle carrying but they all made it look like a stroll.

I always have a look to see what boats are in port, there were a couple of big cruise liners but I was more intrigued by several large, flash looking motor yachts. The blue bottomed Excellence V charter yacht was good, the brand new silent cruising 49 metre long Home was even better, but pride of place went to the 66 metre long Vanish, complete with helicopter. It cost a cool 125 million dollars but the owner, American Larry Van Tuyl has an estimated worth of 3.5 billion dollars. If your reading this Larry, you really need to own a football club, CD Tenerife would fit the bill nicely.

Anyway back in the real world, there was loads more to see, Parque Garcia Sanabria was full of food trucks offering Dorada, mojitos, and exotic variations on burgers. Back up at Plaza Weyler I could see the Canary Islands military commend palace was fronted by old style soldiers rather than their current counterparts, their uniforms were familiar to me from the recreations of Nelsons failed invasion. It was one of many buildings throwing open its doors so I had a look in, only the courtyard was accessible but it gave a brief insight into local military history.

Plaza del Principe was one of the hot spots for live music and dance so I had a quick look at that, and despite having had a large dinner, I still found a home for the free chocolate donuts being given out around town. The celebrations were going to last long into the night and of couse the full moon would add to the atmosphere but my time was ticking away as I worked my way towards the Heliodoro Stadium for CD Tenerife v Nastic. I wanted to catch up on the Casa del Carnaval but the nearest I got was a birds eye view from the bridge just before the Armada Sur´s pre match bar. For the record, CD Tenerife won 2-0 and I did get a glimpse of a brilliant and vibrant moon over the port as our coach sped back towards the south.


Tradition Around Every Arona Corner

Chunky white candles nestled against the old stone houses down all the streets in Arona town, quite a task putting all 10,000 of them in place, and a big box of matches would be needed to light them all up when darkness approached. There was a much more basic feel to this years Dia de Los Tradiciones (Day of Traditions) but those little touches helped to evoke the history of the people and their crafts just 10 kms up from Los Cristianos.

I arrived on a TITSA public service bus after waiting an hour for the free shuttle to show but I wasn´t complaining at a 20 minute journey and a mere 1.25 euros on my bono ticket. Music wafted through the air as I browsed the stalls in the tight street on the way to the church plaza. Those small touches included a free event and guide map that was tinted brown to look old and worn, it had to be big as there were so many events crammed in. On my stroll I saw the source of the music, a traditional Canarian group with dancers and musicians.

One side street featured old home made toys, wooden karts looked certain to give a bumpy but fun ride over the cobbles. Eco power is nothing new, good old pedal power was propelling a kiddies roundabout with some very basic horses, sand filled egg timers measured out the duration of a euros worth of spinning, and boxes of bananas packed a little nourishing after ride treat. Up at the plaza by the church of San Antonio Abad, a stage was set for full orchestras of music later in the day. Heading into Calle El Calvario I found more stalls, some lovely smells were coming from La Cocina de la Abuela (Grandmas Kitchen), they were teaching children some basic recipes and also offering free plates full of potatoes, meat, and gofio – well I couldn´t say no.

Another aspect of this special day is to open up old buildings like the Casa la Bodega, the scene for some of the theatrical performances during the day. I caught up with a display of Salto de Pastor (shepherds leap) an old way of vaulting across small ravines with the help of a large wooden pole. The Casino de Arona was also open to the public and featured antique radios and record players, some of them took me back to my parents radiogram, well at least we didn´t walk down the street in a trance listening to them.

There are several big collections of classic cars in Tenerife and a dozen of the famous old models were on show outside the casino, a magnet for poses against the gleaming bodywork and for smaller enthusiasts a chance to ride the running boards. I spent a good few hours taking in the goodies on offer, it was nice to see old historic houses identified with brief histories of famous families that lived in them, and also places of work and food production like the old gofio mill house. Never let it be said that Arona is just dwelling in the past, one week on (6th & 7th October) from the Day Of Traditions, the church plaza would be throbbing to the sound of car engines ready to embark on the Subida de Arona – La Escalona rally.

What A Blooming Libertad

Sails partly furled and framed by flags of the world, the Argentinian naval training ship Libertad (liberty) took a well earned rest in Santa Cruz before rounding off its 46th world tour. Built in 1961, it puts new generations of crew through a gruelling six month voyage, this year there were 13 port stops including Portsmouth.

I didn´t need a press gang to drag me on board the 103 metre long vessel, it was open house for the four day stay over in the Tenerife capital but most of the crew were taking shore leave. There are 27 officers and 187 petty officers, and 61 cadets including 14 ladies – sadly I never got to meet any of them. The young skeleton crew welcomed small groups on board, they even piped us onto the deck, they had clearly done plenty of polishing and scrubbing so it really was ship shape.

As someone who struggles to do his shoe laces up, I am always impressed by the neat coiling of the many ropes, the three masts feature 27 sails so they have to have perfect recall of what links to each cross beam. It was top deck only for the tour, well it is a navy vessel and has some rather delicate and potent equipment. The four 4.7 mm Hotchkiss canons stood proud on each side, and a wall mounted axe and hammer harked back to more basic operations when the ship was first commissioned. Just because it was sleek and functional, it didn´t stop the inclusion of some impressive art work around the steering column and compass.

As luck would have it, another ship was moored nearby, the French navy´s La Gracieuse P687 patrol ship was taking on supplies and not receiving visitors. It didn´t seem intimadated by its larger and more powerful neighbour. One ship that definatelt wasn´t about to get a welcome in a Canarian port was the British MV Cheshire,loaded with fertilizer it had burst into flames off Gran Canaria and had taken several days and much concern before it could be made safe.

Short On Goals But Long On Hope

Goals, oh yes I remember them. Sadly they have been hard to come by in CD Tenerife´s pre season friendly programme, a mix of unexpected departures, late arrivals, and even a few injuries, but we always seem to fill the last squad places to the last moments of the August transfer window. A 2-0 away leg loss to Las Palmas in the Copa Mahou saw only one CDT shot in the second half and was followed by a 0-3 defeat to Deportivo La Coruña at La Orotava.

The trip to pleasantly cooler La Orotava was smooth, with a car load of Armada Sur meeting up with a large contingent of Frente Blanquiazul in the plaza of the San Agustin shopping centre. Local police were twitchy about a few social beers being consumed as the Armada Sur tucked into a few bottles at Sinatra´s Bar. I kept thinking of the Sid Vicious version of My Way as we quaffed our pre match Dorada´s. The Los Cuartos ground is a magnificant setting with the pine trees marching up the spreading hills beyond, the three female match officials quickly conducted pre match formalities before starting the game.

Juan Villar and Victor Casadesus were missing with injuries so Brian Martin and Juan Carlos Real led the attack. Deportivo have a strong squad under former Tenerife manager Pepe Mel and our defence did well to hold them off for 26 minutes before Andone found the net with a header. It was hard for Tenerife to establish any order, our players have had to adopt to strange positions and new partners so quickly. Cartabia finished off another well worked Deportivo attack after 34 minutes and the game was already over.

A whole raft of half time changes kept everyone guessing, especially with different numbers in the large and young Tenerife squad again. Suso remained a constant throughout the match and had the best scoring chance, a bad offside call did little to enhance his view of female referees. Crunch time is fast approaching, some of the B team players will surely at least get on the bench for the August league games before the last new faces arrive. Raul Camara was rested for the evening with a view to his suspension for the opening league game. The 3,000 crowd learnt more about Deportivo than their home favourites, Borges completed the scoring after 58 minutes and Deportivo got their hands on the selection of trophies that go with the Teide Trophy title.

There´s always a nice relaxed atmosphere around the La Orotava game and as always the crowd were allowed to flood onto the pitch at the final whistle to take pics and pose for autographs. With the grounds snack bar rapidly running out of stock, I made liberal use of the free Markomilk bars being handed out by the match sponsor. The friendlies have at least given our players some match fitness but we are going to be playing catch up as usual when, hopefully, our extra four players slip in before the transfer window slams shut.






















CD Tenerife Draw On New Inspiration

Anything is possible, there´s nine months of football ahead, and of course it´s going to be our year. That´s the idyllic pre season state of all football fans, and CD Tenerife have licked their wounds after just missing out on promotion, said farewell to a few players, and welcomed new arrivals like saviors.

I missed a couple of friendlies due to my Oxford break and was stir crazy by the time the Copa Mahou home leg v Las Palmas arrived. Aerosmith had rocked the Heliodoro to its roots and the grass was still suffering so CD Marino´s Estadio Antonio Dominguez hosted the game. An uplifting 2-2 draw was full of encouraging signs, new right back Luiz Perez looked very comfortable on the ball, and new striker Juan Villar was one of a raft of half time changes, he scored both our goals, the second from the spot. Lack of team listings at these games and new shirt numbers make it challenging to see who´s who, I was guzzling beer on the terracing with the Armada Sur and strained my eyes beyond the running track.

The Saturday night game at UD Ibarra saw me back prowling the touchline, despite a liberal sprinkling of B team players and of course no listing, it was a bit easier to deduce who the suspects were. Carlos Abad started in goal, a stocky left winger turned out to be Tanzania youngster Faridi (no 37) , he worked hard and later swapped wings to show equal speed. Bryan Acosta and Juan Carlos were other notable new signings to get a run out. Acosta was always probing from midfield and Juan Villar always looking to latch onto a half chance of scoring. It was an old favourite, Alberto who opened the scoring with a strong header from a Juan Carlos cross after 32 minutes.

The revolving door brought plenty of half time swaps, Dani took over in goal, Argentinian centre back Lucas Aveldaño got his first action, Victor Csadesus grabbed some time, and B team hopefuls Bolaños and Brian Martin joined the fray. Bryan Acosta was denied a goal by a late offside call but what a life the other Brian was having. An early wide chance hinted at more to come. A break from Carballo ended with a goal for Ibarra after 78 minutes, Dani seemed a little hesitant as the ball went over him and if I´m being an old meanie I could add that Suso was having a mare of a game since his half time emergence.

Ibarra goalie Adrian had already made some impressive stops but saved his best to deny Brian Martin, the youngster looked very sharp and kept getting into good shooting positions. On another day he would have got a hat trick at least but the keeper was inspired. The 1-1 draw was probably fair, the game was more about bedding in new players, letting the young guns get a taste of senior football, and testing the shape and quality of the team play. There were certainly more ticks than crosses for coach Pep Marti. There should be four more new signings before the big kick off and competition for places is already looking keen.


Back To My Oxford City Roots

You never forget your first love, even more so in football, so despite missing a CD Tenerife pre season friendly I was pleased that my summer trip home from Tenerife coincided with Oxford City v Brackley Town on City´s newly installed 3G pitch.

The ground at Court Place Farm is in Marston, where I lived for a few years, so the return was even sweeter.A blazing hot late July day would have made it perfect but at least the rain held off, the clubs burgers and hot dogs were as scrummy as I remember, and a cold pint combined with a warm welcome from old friends soon had me settled.Big changes had taken place since my last game nearly two years ago, the clubhouse has had a big facelift, now open plan, adaptable and with large screen tvs for sport etc. The new 3G pitch is the latest FIFA approved version, it was only laid a few weeks ago and even in the warm ups I could see small clouds of black tyre rubber kicking up, this will quickly settle.

Here´s a potted history of City, founded 1822, I started watching them at The Old White House Ground just off the city centre in 1974 from my pram (actually I was in my early teens). City are in the Guiness Book of Records for the longest ever FA Cup Tie, in 1971 it went to six games before they lost, new replay rules mean that record can´t be beaten. In 1980 Bobby Moore was manager with Harry Redknapp hia assistant for about six months. Booted off the ground by the college owners to build houses, the club regrouped and fought their way back and are now in the Bananarama (Vanarama) Conference South.

Back to the game, Brackley are in the Conference North, a much tougher section, I was keen to see 18 year old goal prospect Horatio Hirst (above), Sheffield United spotted him in City´s youth side on a cup run and snapped him up. Horatio (no 10) has been loaned back this season and looked a class act, great awareness, nimble feet, and an eye for goal, the Conference will bring him on to the next level. There’s not much money at City so they comb the lower leagues and keep picking up little gems that go onto bigger clubs afgter serving City well.

The first half was very even, Brackley were hard to break down but didn’t ask too many questions in attack. Both teams blasted a shot wide of the post and the half ended as a quiet stalemate. Brackley upped their game after the break, Jimmy Armson went on a break down the right and brought the ball into City´s goal mouth, two defenders gave him too much space and he finished well from close range after 58 minutes. On the hour City made a double substitution, Justin Bennett and Ezra Forde both caused problems for Brackley. Bennett let loose a great dipping long shot that hit the underside of the bar before being tipped over.

The hoops didn´t get the breaks, Bennett had to go off with a leg injury and Zac McEachran had a clear goal dissallowed, foul or offside? Only the ref could answer that riddle. Brackley could have widened the gap in injury time but a free kick found home keeper Craig Hill alert and able to deflect the shot aside. It was a good game to watch and the 0-1 defeat will mean nothing when league action starts. The crowd was around 150, the threatening rain and an extended run of home friendlies played their part in keeping away the extra 100 or so that turn out for league clashes. For me it was just a pleasure to see City play again, it tweaked my thirst for an enjoyable evening of ale sampling.


Wantage Walk Is Poetry In Motion

King Alfred, the one who burnt the cakes, is the most well known former resident of Wantage, a wonderful old town about 15 miles out of Oxford. However the statue of former Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman took me by surprise outside the Information Centre, but he too stands proud of his near 30 year residence in Wantage. With the sun smiling and the heavy rain keeping at bay, I set off on the Letcombe Brook trail with a thirst for knowledge.

The church of St Peter and St Paul looked magnificent with its well tended graveyard and sturdy stone tower. Thanks to clear signposting and a helpful leaflet from the information office I was able to follow the face of the church and down Priory Road past the houses of old tannery workers and down to the ford by Willoughby Mill with a slight detour up to a partially overgrown spring called Alfred´s Well. It was a lovely restful area with just the chirp of the birds breaking through the still of the day as strands of sunlight filtered through the leaves.

A strong wooden bridge made an ideal stopping point to drink in the solitude before taking a lane alongside some open grassland where a few horses and goats were busy chewing over their plans for the day. This brought me to an old sluice gate in the brook where water was diverted to the mill stream, this was a busy rural area and nature was tapped into to provide power to turn several mills. Where better to pay tribute to the famous poet, Betjeman Millenium Park had a quirky poem inscribed headstone called The Last Laugh and a stone circle where a group of local younghsters were enjoying a crafty smoke – maybe it was a stoned circle?

It was nice to see some love locks on the iron gate out of the park, it´s a modern link to an old Serbian love story about couples engraving their initials on a padlock and fixing it to a bridge, if you search for photos online you will be staggered at how some of europes bridges are totally covered with locks. Back on the main track, the brook trickled into the remains of the Wilts and Berks canal. Willow bundles speed up the flow for the two old mill houses and brown trout darted through the shallow water. The biggest of the mills had been converted into modern apartments, heralding my emergence onto recently developed housing estates lining the brook just over the road bridge.

The Sack House looked a little weather beaten but dignified, long gone was its 19th century role, supplying sacks for farmers and traders. The whole area had a nice balance between tradition and modern developments, between the brook and the new housing estates, a series of modern sandstone sculptures added character, one even looked a little like King Alfred. The route went very urban through and around the estate to a a partly hidden footpath.I feared I might be reported as a lurker or gnome rustler but they seemed to be used to walkers passing within inches of their back gardens. The brook meandered through fields of wild flowers and the colours and smells of nature were just as attractive as any cultivated display. After a leisrely hour I emerged at Willow Walk nature reserve near the main road back to Oxford, I didn’t see any of the Kingfishers that are known to hang around but was still very happy to have got to know Wantage a bit better.

A shorter stroll from the centre of Oxford on another day of my home visit from Tenerife was equally rewarding. Heading into Christ Church Meadows from the town centre I saw the mighty Thames in its Isis stage, complete with punters slowly polling down the river, and a modern Jubilee bridge that was beautifully designed to fit in well with its surroundings. That walk ended at the Head Of The River pub, another favourite watering hole from my past. Of course Wantage has a vast array of pubs for a small town and my favourite there was the Shoulder Of Mutton with its choice of 10 real ales. It’s thirsty business this walking.