Archive for December, 2013
Espanyol Are Kings Of The Football Feast

There were no jumpers for goals, and no doggy droppings in sight, and the young players had loads of class and skill, apart from that it reminded me of my youth as a fairly hopeless but keen park footballer. The best antidote to too much Christmas is the annual Arona 7’s tournament for some of the best under 12 teams in Europe. This year the three day binge of footie was better than ever topped off with a cracking final that saw Espanyol beat Real Madrid 3-2.

At the moment senior football is pretty depressing with dodgy chairman who can’t tell their Arsenal from their elbow, overpaid players with huge egos, and corporate idiots trying to transform it from a game into a product. It really is a breath of fresh air to see the young players producing good flowing football, ok I know it’s a smaller pitch and short games, 12 minutes a half in the groups and up to 20 a half in the final, but the love of the game is untarnished.

I went down all three days to cover nearly all the games, all matches were free but my press pass meant I could go down at pitch level, trip over camera cables, try to pose the teams for group shots, and generally be a pest. It was all shown on Canal Plus and a couple of other cable stations, I was impressed to see the two roving female interviewers competing to see who could look the most ravishing. I’d call it a very nice draw – extra time back at my place? No, oh well worth a thought. It was strange to see knee high players getting a camera and microphone shoved in their face at the end of the games but they all took it in their stride.

Chelsea were the English entrant, I met the coaching staff, nice bunch and very helpful, and got some background info. Sadly they lost all three group games but they did have Real Madrid and Espanyol, the two best sides, in their group. The organization of the tournament was spot on with all games starting on time, unthinkable for Tenerife, and they did everything possible to look after the teams, Chelsea were able to join the other teams that fell at the group stage in an informal competition in the smaller stadium next door.

There were plenty of ex old pros coaching and making guest appearances. Our local police are very macho and stern but I saw one of them approach an ex player, Canizares I think, and pose with him for a phone photo that his beat partner took, for a moment he was like a star struck kid, football does that to grown men. Another nice extra was a penalty shoot out each day where the young players got a chance to take pot shots at Esteban, the Almeria goalie who had popped  along.

Back to the pitch, the crowds were good throughout, even for the 9.30 am games, but by the final there was 7,500 packed in, a large amount were there to support Real Madrid – don’t start me on that one. I wanted Espanyol, their football had been classy but not showy, and they had several quality players like their busy number nine Reda, a very English style striker. Espanyol built a quick 2-0 lead with goals from Reda and Alejandro, it could have been more against a jittery Madrid keeper but they survived the rest of the first 20 minutes.

At half time I loitered by the Espanyol bench, their coach Carles Martinez was going frantic doing little diagrams on a mini chalk board but then took off Reda and Alejandro, their other best player, that gave Madrid hope and they pulled a quick goal back. Luckily there is a roll on roll off rule for subs in this event so back came the dynamic duo and Nicolas nipped in with a third goal. Madrid showed great spirit and pulled one back with three minutes left to ensure a squeaky bum finish. A match to please everyone, it was great to see Espanyol celebrate with their trophies and uplifting to see the way the other teams and coaches congratulated them. Thanks to all for some top class entertainment.

Stuffing With All The Trimmings For CD Tenerife


It felt like Santa had driven a snow plough through all our vain promotion hopes, this was a dose of reality we didn’t expect or need as Sabadell nicked the Christmas presents with a well deserved 0-3 win. I know Christmas is a time for giving but Tenerife went beyond being generous hosts and looked like they had just stumbled out of an office party. Ayoze was a shock omission from the squad – apparently he had gastro enteritis (gut rot) just before the game, lets hope that isn’t code for he has been sold ahead of the January window.

Whatever went on behind the scenes this was a truly awful display and showed how alarmingly short of strikers we are, Oscar Rico started and was a waste of space. Borja Perez replaced Rico for the second half and looked even worse – the exit door is that way Borja. The defence was struggling from the start, the opening goal after five minutes was an easy pot by Crespi from the right post after Sabadell ripped open our back markers with ease. Surely a wake up call, but alas no, Suso was the only player all game to show any urgency but he was well marked by the visitors, and the midfield had no ideas at all.

There were plenty of comedy moments if you could stomach it, Moyano’s sloppy back header that left Roberto stranded, a glaring Oscar Rico miss, and Aridane ending the half gazing into space when he should have had a shot with a loose ball. There was worse to come in the second half, the introduction of Borja hardly inspired us, our play was still littered with disjointed, badly timed, and downright stupid passes. Sabadell started the day below us but they played really well, they had the hunger and determination and their tactics were spot on.

Borja Turkey

Moyano, has he ever had a worse game, gave away a clear penalty and former Tenerife player Hidalgo scored from the spot. The biggest low in a night of bad pantomime came when Sabadell goalie Nauzet made a hash of trying to head away thee ball, it spun off to Borja (pictured above) but the clown showed he is even worse with his head by steering the ball wide. The final blow came 15 minutes from the end when Camara gave away another clear penalty, another taker, Anibal, but the same result, a gift goal. Feliz Navidad Blanquiazul proclaimed the scoreboard every few minutes, bah humbug replied the crowd with whistles and jeers as many of the 8,924 streamed out. Someone or something seems to have peed in the Christmas punch, let’s see what revelations come out of the club before the next game on 4th January.

Icod In A Slumber As Playa San Marcos Shines

Self inflicted at least in part, Icod de Los Vinos gave a poor account of itself on my pre Christmas visit. Almost a year on to the day from a bustling main shopping street and plaza overlooking the Drago tree, the decorations were subdued, there was no piped carols from the speakers and plenty of empty restaurant tables. Maybe the fenced off, closed again Mariposario butterfly house, and the glaringly unfinished Drago visitors centre have something to do with the lack of tourists.

Even with that concern aside I still found plenty of ho ho ho on a wonderful days tour that started with the early bus to Icod from Playa de Las Americas. The weather was magnificent for my favourite route around the tight mountain roads above Tamaimo and Teide’s coating of snow added to my anticipation. The bus was running a tad late so my first choice of a quick transfer from Icod to Los Realejos fell away but deciding to walk down to Playa San Marcos I was soon rewarded with some great views. It’s years since I made the 2 km walk but I remembered the small margins to squeeze in as the occasional car went by, the crime scene stencils are a graphic reminder of the need for caution.

What a beautiful place Playa San Marcos is, looking over the small bay to the Garachico coast beyond was a sheer pleasure. They have had their problems with crumbling rock faces and lower down I could see the wire netting and pegging added for protection and a supply of large concrete blocks ready to further bolster the defences. The little beach was busy even though the encroaching tide was eating away at it and the clutch of restaurants were doing a decent early coffee and snack trade. The pocket church looked in good form with the doors flung open to encourage visitors and a walk up the far rock path gave me more inspiring views of the bay with Teide glinting down from above.

I cheated and got a bus back up the hill to Icod and set about a sweep through the streets and a quick nod towards the Drago tree. Underwhelmed by the general effort made I called my friends George and Ingrid at Artlandya and George nipped down to give me a lift back to their idyllic former finca in Santa Barbara, home to an amazing collection of 600 dolls and teddy bears, all looking smart especially the Christmas bear. Sat on the café terrace with the sun bright and the flowing gardens in their prime we had a nice catch up over some home made walnut cake, coffee, and beer. They are expecting a momentous arrival in February – no not that sort –something even more miraculous, the new ring road section from El Tanque. It’s all been a slow process but it looks nearly ready so hopefully the money won’t run out again.

My return lift to Icod was just in time for the bus to Tejina in Guia de Isora, although it was a little late out of the station as the nice young lady driver forgot to fill up with petrol. By now it was getting dark and chilly, I thought the jeans would prove their worth in the evening. An hour later I was in Tejina to see my old friend Kath at a local bar before heading on down south to Los Cristianos for a few cheeky beers. You can’t beat the traveling life in Tenerife.

Feeling Pink Not Blue As CD Tenerife Run Ends

It was the day of the Walk For Life and also the day CD Tenerife’s eight game unbeaten run ended with a 1-0 loss at Cordoba. The 1,020 euros raised by the Armada Sur and a chance to pay our tribute to recently lost Karen Andrews and Lil Jessop was much more relevant to us than a blip in an ever improving football season.

Many of the walkers wore pink but CD Tenerife were in their blue away strip but I have plumped for pics of our players in the clubs third choice pink strip, another fund raiser for cancer charities. Feedback from our small traveling force advised us it was a cold one in Cordoba and the pitch looked icy and treacherous. Coach Alvaro Cervera started with a less cautious home like formation, Aridane, Ayoze, and Suso up front and Salva Ruiz winning the call to replace the suspended Raul Camara at left back.

It worked well enough for the first half but came adrift in the second. Aday came on for Sanz in the second half and took up a position of the left, it nearly gave Tenerife the advantage after he combined with Aridane to set up Ayoze for an easy looking chance but he wasted it. Uli had been the main threat for Cordoba but Roberto had him in his pocket. The deciding goal came from Abel, there was definitely a hint of offside but he finished well to warm up the home fans after 67 minutes.

Changes were needed to chase the game, Chechu replaced Suso but it merely took the sting out of the Tenerife attack. Ricardo followed later as the ineffective Rivero went off, again it failed to inspire a comeback. Roberto made sure the deficit wasn’t doubled with a late great save from Silva. It would have been nice to jump Las Palmas in the table but with the Pios in free fall that pleasure may come our way later.





Unwrapping Christmas In Santa Cruz And La Laguna

You know pretty well what your getting each year with Christmas but it doesn’t stop you ripping open the parcels and Tenerife has a knack of adding a few twists to the well worn themes. It was lovely weather for a sleigh ride together (hot sun) but for the trip up to Santa Cruz I shared a Titsa bus with the lovely Karen.

Views of the extensive post storm snow on Mount Teide whizzed by and we were soon in the capital and on the tram to La Laguna. It was as always a few degrees cooler in the University town but the street decorations were tasteful and festive. First stop was the Casa de Los Capitanes, as well as housing the main Tourist Information office the courtyard always does a nice nativity spread with wise men and cattle but this year they also had a more concentrated belen in a side room. Sponsored by Caja Canarias it featured the walled city of Bethlehem with a thriving market place and the three wise men passing by the local traders.

Further along at Plaza del Cristo the indoor market was doing a good trade and the fish, meats, and cheeses were making my nose twitch like crazy. The cynic in me did find it amusing to see their mini nativity scene just next to a cash point machine, well gold, frankincense and myrrh are good but hard cash will do nicely. A spot of lunch and a tour took us to the Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo, its wild mural on a garage door always makes me laugh but the sculptures above were a new rib tickler and suitably shocking, it was clear what side of naughty or nice they had plumped for.

Time to catch the tram back down to Santa Cruz for more exploring. The first belen in Plaza de Candelaria was disappointing, normally an open manger scene with straw and donkeys they have opted for a sealed piece this year that looks more like a tomb. The information panels gave details about Nazareth in several languages but the charm has been lost in favour of functionality and security. The Cabildo HQ belen (top) was not as large as usual and just one sided instead of a walk around model but the detail was terrific and donations made by visitors are going to AMATE cancer charity.

The port is always worth a detour and the tell tale masts of a tall ship had already caught our interest. Passing the large semi erect (feel free to snigger) stage for the Christmas Day late classical concert we found the Alexander Von Humboldt moored up and some of the 41 paying crew checking the deck. It looked like my blagging had failed to get us an invite on board but a fellow CD Tenerife fan among the crew recognized me and we were given a hearty welcome. Several of these tall ships use Santa Cruz as a base for short trips with a crew learning new sea skills as they sail. There were also some spare crew in old fashioned uniforms milling about on the quay, the previous day they had been filming an advert for Becks beer – sadly no free rations were on offer.

Although based on a 150 year old square rigger this ship, the second to bear the name, was only built in 2011. The 24 sails van get it up to 14 knots but the 750 horse power engine is handy to have when the wind drops. They did well to miss the big storms and are just off for a weeks tour around the Canarian waters while the crew learn the ropes and other sea faring tasks in a big team building exercise.

Back on shore and in the heart of the city we sought out a new exhibition Artbelen 2013 at the La Recova Centro de Arte just behind the Teatro Guimera. It was lovely with some fantastic models made from recycled rubbish, well worth a look if you are up that way before it closes after 5 January. While in there I heard the dreaded pittter patter of heavy rain on the roof, thankfully it was just a brief downpour and we were able to walk to the CC Tres de Mayo shopping centre for a quick look around. I was tempted to leap off the balcony and onto the soft toy animals that were for hire, if only to liven up their bored assistant. Then I had a better idea, we caught the Titsa bus back south and rounded off the day with a couple of cheeky Dorada’s in The Merry Monk.   

Sunshine And Shovels After The Tenerife Storms

Coming from a country where two days of sun is a drought and a flake of snow can wipe out public transport, Tenerife always impresses me with its resilience. Being a mere volcanic spec in the Atlantic we are bound to get some bad weather now and then and thunder, lightning, and industrial amounts of rain have swept across the western Canary Islands this last week.

It’s tough to suddenly switch the relaxed sun and beach mind set to caution and care and not helped when the rumour mongers inject a bit of panic. The Tenerife and Canary Islands governments are pretty clued up these days and use social media to keep people up to date with the changing situation. At local level the Arona council that covers my Los Cristianos home made sure everyone knew about the very heavy rain, and high winds that AEMET, the Met Office, had predicted, they even had warnings on the palm trees. The storm broke a little later than expected but it was full of rage as thunder pounded the air and lightning split the skies. Thankfully down my way the winds of up to 90 km per hour didn’t come with it but it was still wild enough.

The Titsa public bus service managed to run pretty near a full service over the two worst days and even the inter island ferries made most of their runs. While keeping up with this the government and emergency services had to take time out to deny rumours of a mass evening power shut down and also a Spanish digital newspaper claimed a category three hurricane was heading in and the government was covering it up. Time proved how silly those two little gems were but they could have caused quite a panic.

Anyway morning arrived and the thunder and lightning had faded and the torrential rain gradually morphed into cloud and then sunshine. During the previous days lull in the storm the councils clean up brigade had made one aborted attempt to clear the road outside my block, dirt and rocks had formed large ridges down the centre and sides and a large pool of debris at the roundabout. With the rain finally fizzling out the team were back to dig in and remove tons of rubble. A walk down to the coast produced a similar story, dirty rivers of rain had cut a swathe through the sand at the old Los Cristianos beach and that was already being cleaned up and raked flat again. Piles of washed down rubbish and trees were collected together for removal and the tractors graded the sand further along.

It was as always a brilliant effort by all concerned and from what I hear it has been mirrored at other points around the island. I have always found it annoying that high earners justify each others inflated wages saying you need to pay big money to get the right people – somehow it never applies to those lower down the pecking order. For me the cleaners, road menders, gardeners and others that ensure Tenerife always shows its best face are a special breed worthy of the highest praise. Every fiesta, every public holiday, and every extraordinary weather day they are straight into action to get the island back to its best. Good riddance to the storm, welcome back to he sun, and a massive thank you to the people who mopped up after natures little party. 

A Clean Bill Of Health For Art And The West Coast

Casting my far from expert eye over artistic offerings is usually a Santa Cruz calling so it was nice to hear of a new exhibition in Callao Salvaje, a timely opportunity to see if the west coast had escaped the rain that battered the east.

After following the long drawn out rebirth of Playa Ajabo beach I had only been back once since it opened in May 2012. What a pleasure to see sun beds all laid out and no after effects of the lesser rain the previous week brought to this side of the island. One of the keys to funding the running of the beach was the two tier food bar at the back of the sand. Now fully open it looks terrific, a snack bar below and a large terraced restaurant above and they looked well used. I noticed the snack bar prices were very cheap, baguettes 2.90 or burger and chips 1.75, with no nearby competition I might have expected much dearer. The Sansibar Ajabo Restaurante looked well set out with a big BBQ area, I will have to try the food next trip up.

My main mission though was to check out the Tendencias Realistas exhibition at the former Policlinica in Perla Blanca. Eight artists in a spacious series of old consulting rooms on the edge of the rocky coast, there was plenty to appreciate for but I saved some of the more saucey ones for here. Ceramics, black and white photos, portraits, and surreal flights of fancy, plenty for all tastes and prices. It’s open Thursday to Sunday from 2 to 7pm until 26 January or you can see more at

Back out in the sun I headed around the beach and up over the low cliff top path to Playa Paraiso. It’s a short walk with a shallow barranco to scrabble down and up, no problem for a young gazelle like me, well more of an old goat. The sea was calm and as the path gave way to the smoother promenade I couldn’t see any trace of the previous weeks heavy rain, Playa Las Galgas had a good sprinkling of people and the big hotels had plenty worshipping the fading sun as cloud rolled over. With all this new development it’s a pity to see the Roca Mar commercial centre still abandoned so soon after its creation.

For me it was a Titsa bus to Playa de La Arena and another coastal walk through Puerto Santiago, over Crab Island to Los Gigantes to meet my holidaying friends in The Bamboo. I kept an eye out for interesting Christmas decorations but they were scarce, where are all the mini Santas climbing up walls and balconies this year? Maybe they have been arrested for suspected breaking and entering, I’m sure I will find some more ho ho ho in the weeks ahead.

Siam Park, My How You’ve Grown

Stood at the top of the unfinished Tower Of Power on a Monday morning the day after a Dorada and CD Tenerife evening it looked a long way down. Now five years later it has launched many more than a thousand hips down the water slide, but not mine. It’s nice to pop back now and then to see the continued development of Siam Park, with Christmas and New Year coming it’s gonna get plenty of visitors, see how it measured up on my latest visit here.

It’s not just about water rides and thrills and spills, the first of the Beach Volleyball tournaments up at the amphitheatre was a cracker, and not just because of the yummy cheerleaders. Since then it has also housed late night dance music events, martial arts contests, and even Mitch Winehouse (Amy’s singing taxi driver Dad) crooning.

The large beach is a big draw for corporate events and presentations, the last one I covered was hard work, all that nibbling snacks and tasting Mojitos – I think I might get funny looks from the other Armada Sur members if I swapped  my pre footie beers for a big fruity bowl of iced Mojito – I could always save that for promotion night. It was of course a Siam Park open top bus that was used for the Santa Cruz victory parade after the promotion to the Primera. That’s a hopeful note to end on.

Super CD Tenerife – Oh Come Let Us Adore Them

Monty Python should update the parrot sketch for their reunion. “This is an ex Pio, bereft of life it rests in peace.” Las Palmas may have helped to dig their own hole when goalie Barbosa snapped at Suso’s back leg to give away a penalty but CD Tenerife were well worth their 3-0 home win.

Three years since the last derby and the 18,070 crowd was buzzing, around a 1,000 pios were perched up top at the far end but they couldn’t compete with the tremendous tifo that greeted the teams onto the pitch. Ayoze was straight at them with a volley that wasn’t far off the mark and a goal ruled out for an offside header on from Aridane. The game was only 19 minutes old when captain for the night Suso threatened to go through for a solo goal, Barbosa came off his line and miss timed his dive taking Suso’s back leg from under him. It had to be a penalty and it had to be a red card for the keeper, The first task for sub goalie Lizdain was to pick Ricardo’s penalty out of the net.

What a launch pad for Tenerife, they didn’t waste it and piled the pressure on the pios, Cristo was halted in front of goal by a yellow defender and Ricardo ended the half with a wide shot while Roberto had little apart from the odd cross to deal with. Las Palmas are flying this season and had plenty of danger men but the Tenerife defence was outstanding, Ruiz didn’t put a foot wrong and Camara just gets better and better.

Aridane opened the second half with a glaring miss and at the other end Deivid didn’t even get his curling free kick on target. Rivero replaced a bloodied Ricardo just in time to see the lead doubled. Aitor Sanz threaded a lovely ball to Ayoze and he pulled wide before slotting the ball in the corner of the net, the pios were looking as sick as a parrot. The Heliodoro was rocking and the players were in party mood picking over the remains of their tamed visitors. Suso was having another fine day at the office and his hard work and pass to Ayoze gave our wonder kid his second goal of the night.

What a magnificent performance and doesn’t the Segunda league table look good now, Tenerife are in 11th place and just a win behind the promotion slots – aspirations of promotion maybe? Santa Cruz was a happy place to be Wednesday night – even the working girls on the road down from the ground gave our coach a few suggestive wiggles of celebration. 


Girona Draw – A Time To Remember

Just the name Girona stirs emotive memories in CD Tenerife fans, today’s 2-2 draw at the scene of our 2009 promotion to the Primera was not such a landmark but for the Armada Sur it evoked cherished memories.

Watching from many diverse Tenerife bars thoughts of Karen Andrews one of our “family” who we lost this week, made us smile from that June afternoon where we shared elation and a few beers in good company. Blimey four years on one of our players Juanlu Hens had switched sides and their ground and fan base had definitely grown.

It took just seven minutes for Aridane to grab an away lead, Chechu, captain against his former team, drove the ball in and it broke kindly to our striker to finish off. Chechu looked a little over excited on his return and hit a tame shot wide after some wizardry from Ayoze to make the opening, a few minutes later he scooped his own shot over the bar. The first half ended with Gerard, looking offside, taking a pop but Roberto got down well to cover.

Roberto was having another commanding game so the manner of the equalizer was particularly cruel. Girona were having one of their best spells, Roberto dived low to parry a shot, then dived the other way to save the return, this time it rebounded into the path of Gerard for an easy goal. Coach Cevera had rested ever present defenders Moyano and Ruiz with an eye to Wednesdays derby clash and the defensive unit wasn’t quite as tight as normal, Girona mounted a big charge and Rigo with hands behind his back in that annoying modern manner, didn’t face up to Gerard and he nipped in for a 2-1 lead.

You can’t fault Tenerife’s character, they bounced back and went looking for another goal, a ball over found Bruno running into space to calmly dispatch the ball into the net. A late push for a winner saw misses for Aridane, and sub Borja was denied by a desperate sliding block from a home body. An away draw is always good and the run now goes to seven unbeaten with the Pios at home on Wednesday. CD Tenerife and the Armada Sur keep moving on –  but we will always take out special memories with us.