Manolo Reina's pre-match ritual, kissing the goalpost. | Carlos Gil-Roig - Photographer


After a week when on St Patrick’s day a man goes into a Dublin shop and buys a fly spray, he asks the guy stacking shelves “Excuse me, is this any good for wasps ?” – the guy answers “No, it kills them !” – Real Mallorca, despite losing their first away game in eight months (going down 0-2 to Sporting Gijon after two slapstick defensive errors), still remain top of La Liga SmartBank, four points ahead of Almeria and five from third-placed Espanyol.

The question now being asked is which two sides are the most reliable candidates to win automatic promotion in May ?

We somehow have to navigate through a footballing minefield over the next three weeks starting today at 18:15 in the Son Moix against Real Oviedo with their Manacor-born goalkeeper Joan Femenias.

When these two teams met in Asturias on January 3, we were two goals up in 20 minutes from Lago Junior and Joan Sastre. Oviedo then produced the mother of all comebacks scoring twice in the second half.

After today, we’ll have a nine-day margin before things get progressively more complicated. Following Oviedo, we’re away at our “bogey” team Fuenlabrada on Monday 29th at 9 pm. They won 2-3 here then knocked us out of the Copa in a penalty shoot out.

Three days later we’re back in Palma when in-form (4th placed) Leganes come to town on Thursday April 1, at 7 pm. 72 hours after that, we make the long trip to Las Palmas who’ve defeated every one of the present top five. The Canary Islanders beat us 0-1 back in January.

Before we left for Gijon last week, coach Luis Garcia Plaza said we have five games in a row in which we’ve only scored five points in the first round of fixtures.

The defeat at Gijon only went to confirm the coach’s fears and he went on “If we do the same as we did in the first half of the season, we’ll lose our automatic promotion place.” A vast improvement is surely expected tomorrow in another game that won’t be easy for Real Mallorca.

Tomorrow’s squad is strengthened by the return of Sedlar and Galarreta, the latter being sorely missed in midfield.

Salva Sevilla became the fourth oldest player to play for Real Mallorca when he celebrated his 37th birthday on Thursday. Over the years, Pep Luis Marti (40), Miguel Angel Nadal (38) and “Nanu” Soler (37) are ahead of him in the veterans department.

There’s no doubt the metronomic Salva is one of the best midfielders ever to pull on a Mallorca red jersey and is having a bit of a renaissance after a career spent in La Liga with Betis and Espanyol.

We may well be having a mild dose of the collywobbles but Espanyol fans have started ringing the alarm bells. A message on the club’s website from the president of the supporters club is calling for the team to do better.

After three consecutive draws, Espanyol have dropped out of the top two, a position that’s not acceptable especially as they have the biggest budget (49 million euros) and expectations are high.

The message said “We ask all levels of the club to be aware of the importance of this situation which is very worrying. We must all live up to our responsibility that our history deserves.” Ex Mallorca boss (now at Espanyol) Vicente Moreno’s jacket could be on a shaky peg very soon.

What’s with this increasing trend of players squealing in agony when being subjected to a foul of any description or decree followed by the over-dramatic fall/rollabout ? Screaming like banshees, players do a double or triple roll-over.

Then, when nothing’s given in their favour, and play continues, they get up and run away as if nothing’s happened. In my opinion the biggest culprit is Lacazette of Arsenal. His high pitched screeches are well off the scream-ometer !

AND FINALLY, the story in Thursday’s Bulletin about the sniffer labradors trained to detect Covid 19 reminded me of this story. Three labradors, brown, golden and black, are sitting in the vet’s waiting room when they strike up a conversation.

The black lab turns to the brown lab and asks “Why are you here ?” The brown lab replies “I’m a pi**er, I pi** on everything, the sofa, the curtains, the cat, the kids, you name it and I’ll p**s on it. The final straw was last night when I pi**ed in the middle of my owner’s bed.”

The black lab asks “So what’s the vet got in store for you then ?” Back comes the reply “Prozac, it works for everything these days.” The black lab then asks the same question to the golden lab, and is told “I’m a digger, a dig-o-holic.

I dig under fences, flower beds, even trees. Last night I crossed the line and dug up my owner’s newly-laid lawn. So it looks like Prozac for me, too.” The golden lab then asks the black Lab “So why are you here ?” The black lab explains “I’m a humper, I’ll hump anything, table legs, chair legs, you name it, I’ll hump it.

Yesterday my owner got out of her shower and as she was bending down to dry her feet I couldn’t help myself.” The golden and brown labs exchange sad glances and ask “So is it Prozac for you too then ?” “Hell no,” comes the reply, “I’m here to get my nails clipped !”