Relegation Becomes A Reality For CD Tenerife

Even the lure of the beer couldn’t keep us from heading for the Valencia stadium 90 minutes before kick off to greet our players. Threading our way through the side streets from Plaza del Virgen we arrived ahead of time and grabbed some seats outside a small cafe bar in sight of the ground. The Mestalla stadium is partly shrouded by office and apartment blocks and rises high on all sides. Refreshed we headed to the players entrance and found hundreds lining the road with banners and colours, barriers marked out a short corridor from the parking spot to the open door and mounted police kept the crowds back on the pavements. After a short wait the coach pulled in and our tense looking players filed off, most of them too wound up to acknowledge the roar of the crowd, coach Oltra gave a flambouyant wave and they were gone, alone with their thoughts in the dressing room.

A bar across the road had already caught my eye and with an hour to kick off a few of us squeezed in and forced some more sedative down. Our alloted entrance was easy to find, mingling through the crowd with colours proudly worn, the locals greeted us in friendly fashion, well their third place finish was assured. The steps up to the top of the ground seemed endless but our perch had a great view as a sea of CD Tenerife fans spread out around us. The older part of the ground on the far side was dwarfed by the steep tiers we occupied and we cranked up the noise levels as CD Tenerife took to the pitch.

Manolo nearly gave us a dream start but Moya made a comfortable save. That was about the best that Tenerife could muster in the first half as Valencia, without rested Villa and Silva, took control of the game. Ten minutes in and we were crushed by news of a Malaga goal at home to Real Madrid, the collective sinking of hearts seemed to signal the inevitable. The team must have been aware as well, an away win against a classy Valencia side seemed impossible.

Sergio Aragoneses was as always brilliant, a strong block from Rodriguez and a weak Zigic header denied a home advantage. Baraja and Dominguez saw their casual shots miss the target and at half time it was all square. There was still hope but it was fading fast, Madrid levelled but we still needed a win. Alfaro troubled Moya but at the other end Sergio turned in two more fine saves to deny Dominguez and Hernendez. Ricardo managed a weak shot as the Valencia pressure built. The game was nearly finished and the Tenerife fans were wilting as Alexis drove in the final nail with a header from a Dominguez corner.

The Tenerife players were drained and could barely return the applause of the fans as the reality hit home. As if we weren’t depressed enough, the local police decided to hold us back as the stadium drained of fans, a misserable 30 to 40 minutes passed before we were allowed to descend the tight stairways, for good measure they then turned the lights out. It was totally un called for as our coaches were just below us and there had not been any hint of problems between the fans.Carefully sidestepping the calling cards of the police horses we found our numbered coaches and headed for a quiet low key flight home.

Away form did for us, and lessons need to be learned about life at the top level, but the whole experience has been an uplifting one, our appetities are whetted for more and that new season can’t come quickly enough.