After a week when, on Friday, I had my second Moderna jab – felt a bit of a prick, so nothing new there then ! – Real Mallorca play their penultimate home game of a brilliant 2020/21 La Liga SmartBank campaign tomorrow, kick-off at 20:45 in Son Moix, against Madrid side Alcorcon.
It was announced on Thursday lunchtime that the Spanish authorities had given the green light for the return of a limited number of fans to football matches in La Liga and La Liga SmartBank in certain areas, with strict security measures. A 0-1 defeat to Getafe on March 1 last year was the last time spectators were allowed into the Son Moix as the Covid pandemic was about to change all our lives. Now 30% of the ground’s capacity can return, which means 4086 will be in their socially distanced seats come kick-off time tonight.
It’s been all hands to the pump in the offices of the club as Roman and his team have had to organise a raffle, overseen by a notary, to see who gets in and who doesn’t. I tentatively put my application in but I’m not lucky in raffles. The last thing I won anything of note was several Christmases ago when, after unwrapping three layers of paper, I’d won a packet of Quely biscuits ! If the return of fans to some games is being celebrated by many as a sign that we’re winning the Covid battle, some teams are far from happy, including tonight’s visitors. They’ve basically said La Liga SmartBank is favouring some clubs and harming others. The Balearic islands are in Phase 1 but Mallorca is in Phase 2, that’s also causing consternation.
Tomorrow’s game can be compared to climbing Mount Everest. We’d been in the last base camp as we prepare to scale the summit. Local fans are having a severe dose of “squeaky bum-itis” as we still need to get two wins from the four games remaining. Win them and we’re back where we belong, in Spanish football’s promised land, La Liga Santander.
The big news for us last week was the contract extension signed by 28-year-old striker Abdon Prats, which keeps him here until 2024. One of the reasons why we’re almost over the promotion line is the input from the Arta player. He’s been one of the most important members of the squad, scoring eight goals. His bicycle kick (Chilean) against Almeria in early December was one of the goals of the season in any division.
Not long after he put pen to paper, various red posters with the drawing of his trademark moustache and the date 2024 appeared in emblematic places in central Palma, even on the back of EMT buses. Our sporting director Pablo Ortells has now re-signed all the heavyweights in the squad. Abdon, Reina, Dani Rodriguez, Raillo, Valjent, Salva Sevilla and Sanchez have extended their contracts. All of them (except Sanchez) plus Lago Junior, Fran Gamez and Joan Sastre are aspiring to claim their third promotion in three seasons.
Now all we need is for 17-year-old Argentinian “wonder kid” Luka Romero to sign on the dotted line as his future in Palma looks at the moment in serious doubt.
In the ranks of tonight’s opponents is a certain Xisco Jimenez from Santa Ponsa. Thirty-four year old Xisco really lives up to the football term “Have boots will travel.” Starting at Deportivo La Coruña in 2004, he’s turned out for 11 clubs, including Real Mallorca, plus recent spells in Thailand and Uruguay. He also had five seasons at Newcastle United (finishing off as seventh choice striker !). He turned out just nine times for the Magpies first team scoring one goal in four years. In 2013 he was given the title “one of the club’s worst ever signings” by the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, who also christened him an “expensive flop.”
PS Espanyol, who have already been promoted, surprisingly lost to Cartegena 0-2 on Friday night. If we win tonight, Espanyol will be three points ahead of us with three games left. If they come unstuck in a couple of them, and we don’t lose any of ours, then Mallorca could finish off as champions. Now that would be the icing on the cake !
AND FINALLY, Lions Tickets. An advert in this month’s Rugby World magazine read “I’ve got two tickets for a corporate box for the second test match in Cape Town between The Lions and South Africa on July 31. I paid £400 each for them but didn’t realise when I purchased them that it was taking place the same day as my Covid-postponed wedding. If anybody’s interested I’m looking for someone to take my place. It’s at Pontypridd Registry Office at 4:30 pm and the brides name is Myfanwy (Myfi) Jones. She’s 5 ft 4 ins, pretty, has her own income and makes a mean Welsh Rarebit !”