Mallorca players celebrate a 1-0 win against At. Madrid. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter

After a week when I read “Next up for the England World Cup team is to wear Russ Abbot style orange wigs in a show of solidarity with oppressed members of the worldwide ginger community!” – Real Mallorca are on their holibobs until December 1 with their coach Javier Aguirre in Qatar commentating for Mexican television. The time and date of our first league game after the break is Friday, December 30 at 5pm away in Madrid against Getafe who are three points below us in 15th place on 14 points.

The club have announced a friendly training fixture against German Bundesliga side FSV Mainz on December 10 at 5pm in Son Bibiloni. The game will be slightly different as it’s going to be four periods of 30 minutes, giving both coaches the chance to play all of their squads. As Son Bibiloni has a reduced capacity, limited tickets will be available from the Son Moix offices from Monday, November 28. It’s free to season ticket holders and 10€ for others.

The Son Moix cannot be used as it is immersed in a new phase of remodelling, at the moment a new floodlighting system is being installed. Mallorca had indicated initial plans to play a series of friendlies against another three Spanish sides in Florida. In the end the trip couldn’t be finalised and was called off.

Their next official game is a very tricky second round cup match away at Irun (a stone’s throw from the French border in the Basque country) three weeks away against a giant killing team called Real Union. Spain’s Copa del Rey has nowhere near the romance of the English FA Cup but nevertheless it can be a money-spinner for teams from the lower divisions.

No fewer than 55 games took place in the first round with many “smaller” clubs taking part, the majority of which I’d never heard of. Two years ago the Copa del Rey went through a radical transformation in an attempt to generate fresh enthusiasm.

Two-legged ties, seeding and a format which ensured only 12 lower league sides would be remaining by the time the top flight clubs even entered, predictably made it almost impossible for the “minnow” clubs to progress deep into the competition. It was decided to drop the two-legged “snoozefest” format with all ties being settled by a one-off contest up to, and including, the quarter finals. As a result of the new format every La Liga side has faced at least one banana skin away day as the Copa heads to small villages, towns and islands (e.g. At. Baleares, UD Ibiza, Andraitx and Formentera) across the length and breadth of Spain.

One of the most inspiring stories concerns our next round opponents Real Union (who incidentally up until a few weeks ago were owned by new Aston Villa manager Unai Emery). La Union, who play in the same Primera RFEF Group 2 league as Palma side At. Baleares, appeared to strike gold when they drew Real Madrid in 2008 over two legs.

They lost in the Bernabeu but scored a famous victory at home to go through on the away goals ruling. From that tie Union netted an estimated 500,000 euros, roughly the equivalent of their entire annual budget. La Union knocked out Cadiz in the last round so are no “mugs.”

As expected, the big clubs are sniffing around Vedat Muriqi. Several outlets on social media this past week reported Aston Villa are allegedly to offer 20 million euros for his services in January.

Mallorca have stated he’s not for sale at any price although a bid of 40 million euros may change their minds. The player himself has reiterated he wants to see his career out on the island. Also the club are negotiating with the agents of our midfielder Ruiz de Galarreta with a view to extending the 29-year-old Basque’s contract.

The only stumbling block could lie in the duration of a new deal. Galarreta from Eibar played a few games for At. Bilbao in 2012/13 and their opportunities to bring in a player with his characteristics are severely limited.

Sad news was the passing of Real Mallorca’s “legendary” sponge man/masseur Jaume Pedros from Santanyi last weekend at the ripe old age of 86. He was at the club for nigh on 32 years and was part and parcel of the squad under Hector Cuper who reached two cup finals in two seasons, including the last ever European Cup Winners Cup final at Villa Park when we narrowly lost 1-2 against Lazio. We also came third in La Liga, our highest finish ever.

Talking about “sponge man” the magic sponge was integral to the game back in the day. This sponge had supernatural powers in fixing players’ injuries.

A prostrate player (like today’s tattooed “Big Jessies” who fall down and roll over at even the slightest touch) would spring back into life after application. In the heat of the game the stained yellow sponge was dipped into a dirty black pail full of water from an undisclosed source ! I can remember players even drinking from that receptacle.

The sponge worked a treat as players believed in its mystical powers. I say “bring back that sponge” and watch all this faking-injury plague stop overnight, if only because today’s pampered primadonnas would be desperate to avoid the contents of the murky black bucket !!

PS Spain have a young, inexperienced side and a coach in Luis Enrique who revels in winding up half the country. It’s caused a massive divide, with many fans refusing to get behind “La Roja.”

After the 7-0 thrashing of feeble Costa Rica, the whole country will surely now unite and get behind the team for Sunday’s game against Germany. They could well be draping their towels over the plane seats after the game!

El Toro’s Marco Asensio became the first Mallorcan-born player to score in the World Cup finals. From Real Mallorca’s academy to the world stage! Enhorabuena maestro!