Basque Groundhopping 4: Barakaldo CF Vs Real Unión Irun

Club name: Barakaldo Club de Futbol

Level: Segunda División B

Stadium: Estadio de Lasesarre

Maximum Capacity: 10,000

Ticket Prices: 12€ behind goals or 15€ in mainstands

How to arrive: Metro line 2 Barakaldo Station; RENFE train from Abando to Desertu/Barakaldo Station

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An error in my planning for the previous weekend meant that I was unable to see a match in Gernika as I had originally hoped. Fortunately, this weekend I had no such issues and I made my way to Barakaldo to watch the local team Barakaldo C.F. play against Real Unión. For the match, I was joined by my friend Carlos; a Barakaldo native, fan of the club and former football referee.

Barakaldo is a small city on the western side of the Bilbao estuary, and it is one of the most well populated places in the Bilbao metropolitan area with 100,000 people living there. In past years, the city was an important industrial hub with a prominent steel-industry. However, in the 1980’s a devastating recession hit Greater Bilbao and Barakaldo was one of the worst effected areas with many of it factories, warehouses and steel mills being forced into closure. Like most of the Bilbao region, Barakaldo has had to reinvent itself in wake of the economic downturn. Factories and industrial plants have become parks and recreational areas whilst the city’s main feature is the recently built Bilbao Exhibition Centre (BEC).

The town’s football club are named Barakaldo CF and it was founded in 1917. The club, with the exception of one season, has spent the last 29 years in the third tier Segunda División B but it did pass most of the 70’s in the Segunda Divsión proper. From the outside, it would appear the club sees itself as one that should be a regular in that division rather than the one they are in. Often the club finishes in the top half of the league finishing 2nd as recently as 2015/16; it seems they just need a bit of luck to propel themselves to where they feel they belong.

The club prides itself on the working class nature of the city and being a club of the people. It is said that even the black and gold striped kit that they use is designed to represent this. The black signifying the black smoke that came from the old factories of Barakaldo and the gold the prosperity that they brought.

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Down to Logistics:

There are several ways to get to Barakaldo and the stadium but the best would probably be to go by Metro or Train. I went by metro, I got on and went to platform that takes the metro northwards. You have to be sure to get on the metro line 2 which goes up the west of the estuary and get off at the metro called ‘Barakaldo’. Once here, take the exit which says Elcano, this should leave you in a small plaza. From here, it’s a bit of a walk to the stadium but it’s quite simple, look for the road named Calle Juan de Garay and walk straight until you arrive at the stadium. To arrive by train from Bilbao you would have to go to one of Bilbao’s RENFE train stations, the two main ones are in Abando and San Mamés. From here you have to catch a train that travels along line C2, the trains run every 20 or 30 minutes. Once in Barakaldo leave the station through the exit that goes to Calle Murrieta, turn right and keep walking straight.

Once at the stadium, you’ll see a fair few spectators in and around the bar enjoying some pre-match beverages. Around the corner from the bar you’ll find the ticket office. Tickets for the stands behind the goals cost 12€, tickets for the main stands are 15€, and kids under the age of 10 are let in for free. Also, the tickets themselves are really snazzy and laminated!

Barakaldo CF play their home games in the wonderful, modern and quirky Estadio de Lasesarre. Built in the same place as its predecessor of the same name, the stadium has a maximum capacity of 10,000 people. It has an undoubted quirky and fun feel, the stands are very close to the pitch and the seats are multi-coloured. Supposedly, this is to give the impression of a full ground even with empty seats. Like many stadiums in the region, the mountains that surround the city can be seen from inside the stands, which definitely adds a further element of individuality to the ground. In addition to this, the stadium also contains a lively bar -always a plus!

The Match:

To borrow a well known footballing cliché, the match was definitely a game of two-halves. The first half was slightly lacklustre and neither teams were able to move into top gear. Most of the first half was played in the middle of the pitch and, apart from an early chance for Unión, neither side really threatened the other’s goalie. It must also be said that the pitch seemed to impact play quite a lot, it was soaked and the ball travelled across it slowly, and chunks of turf were being churned up by the players’ boots. Some stern words must have been dished out in the changing room during the interval as the second half saw a massive upturn in tempo. Barakaldo came steaming out of the gates, in the 47th minute Barakaldo number 7 was denied a brilliant goal when his thumping long range effort smacked off the crossbar. Not a minute later Barakaldo had another decent effort saved as their striker took advantage of some dodgy defending before having his effort turned away by Unión’s keep. However, it didn’t take too much longer for Barakaldo’s new found sense of vigour to pay dividends when a low cross from the right was converted by a sliding striker . The rest of the game was played at a much more frantic pace than the second half, and both sides had decent chances to score but lacked a bit in final product. Eventually, Barakaldo killed the game off in stoppage time thanks to an absolute wonder of a goal from their left winger. He collected a long-range pass from his goalkeeper in acres of space on the left flank about 30 yards from goal, from here he drove towards the goal ripping Unión’s defence apart before dummying and rounding the keeper to finish.

Barakaldo is the largest of the typical post-industrial towns and cities that make up the majority of the west of the Greater Bilbao area, and it’s always nice to see a club that is in touch with its city and respects its heritage. Barakaldo CF is a club that deserves to be in a higher league. Hopefully, they’ll find whatever has been missing in previous seasons and make the jump this time round. The stadium was not exactly full but the fans were not lacking in enthusiasm, and the unconventional stadium itself is definitely worth a visit for anyone who lives in the area. I want to thank Carlos for accompanying me to the game and telling me a bit about the history of the city and the club, as well as his own personal anecdotes of being a referee at this level.

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