Club name: Arenas de Getxo
Level: Segunda División B
Stadium: El Estadio Municipal de Gobela
Maximum Capacity: 1,200
Ticket Prices: 20€
How to arrive: Metro to Gobela Station and an extremely short walk.
For this weekend’s game I travelled to the beautiful seaside town of Getxo to watch one of the two sides that play there, Arenas de Getxo. Apart from being a lower league football fan’s dream in terms of the football that was played and the atmosphere inside the stadium, I was also witness to one of the most heart-warming and affirming moments I have encountered in this great sport.
Founded in 1909, Arenas de Getxo are a club steeped in rich history, a fact their fans take great pride in and the basis of the club’s nickname, El Histórico. In its early days, Arenas were one of the powerhouse clubs of Spanish football and even won a Copa Del Rey in 1919, defeating FC Barcelona 5-2 in the final over two legs. In addition to this, they won the Campeonato Vizcaíno twice and the Campeonato Regional Norte 3 times between 1917 and 1929. In 1928, Arenas was one of ten clubs that formed La Liga and they competed in the league until being relegated in 1934/35. It has been argued that if the Civil War had never occurred the club probably would have gained promotion again quite easily, but alas it was never to be, and the club has not been able to return to the top table ever since. For most of its modern history, Arenas has been languishing in the Tercera División, but an agreement made with energy company Elecnor has led to an upturn in fortunes and the club was promoted to the Segunda División B in 2015, where they have remained ever since.
Over the years, the club has competed in a number of esteemed grounds in the area including El Campo de Lamiako, one of the most crucial sites in the early development of football in the Basque Country. These days El Histórico play their home games in El Estadio Municipal de Gobela, a small box like stadium, with one main stand that can hold up to 1,200 spectators. As for the atmosphere, it was quite incredible, easily one of the best I have experienced since starting this project. The entire stand was filled with plenty of Burgos fans making the journey across the country for the game and there was barely a silent moment, the whole crowd was in fine voice for the entire game.
Down to Logistics
The ground is very well placed and get there is a simple journey. You have to get on the metro and get on Line 1 heading towards Plentzia, the stop you need is Gobela. Once at Gobela leave through the exit named Erregakane from here walk up the road until you see a small bridge, go across the bridge, and then walk down towards the stadium, you’ll find the ticket office around the corner. A ticket for a match will cost you 20€ and you can sit wherever you like once inside the ground. Furthermore, the stadium has a friendly bar where you can buy a beer for just 2€ making the match day experience even more enjoyable!
The game started at a wonderful pace, both teams looked to exploit the short length of the pitch and were extremely direct, without necessarily being route one. The first real opportunity came in the 10th minute when Arenas were awarded a free kick on the left edge of the box. It was struck beautifully up and over the wall and seemed destined for the top corner before a outstretched Burgos keeper diving to his right got a strong hand to the ball to tip it over the bar. The next chance came some 17 minutes later under similar circumstances but this time they were awarded a free kick on the other side of the box. In an almost symmetrical piece of play the keeper pulled put a wonderful stop yet again, this time diving to his left. A minute later, Arenas’ number 4 gave away possession and Burgos sought to take advantage, a couple of swift passes took them into the penalty area where a fine strike was stopped by an even better save with the Arenas keeper sending the ball out for a corner. Over the next 15 minutes the game became quite heated and the physicality levels increased somewhat, a Burgos player suffered a small injury but carrying on nonetheless. It seemed as though the referee was losing control of the game and the fans began to get on his back, fantastic stuff for a neutral like myself. The next real moment of the half came shortly before the break as Arenas’ keeper was called upon once more making a brilliant low save to keep the opposition off the scoreboard. From a neutral perspective the first half was fantastic, and I overheard a fan sum it up perfectly when he described it as being more like a tennis match than a football one.
The ping pong style of play continued into the second half, but both teams failed to capitalise on their opportunities. In the first ten minutes, Arenas applied plenty of pressure but wasted their chances, and star player Aitor Ramos made a fool of himself when he was booked for diving inside the box in the 51st minute.
Nothing much happened for the next ten minutes on the pitch, but a moment which gave my heart cause for cheer did occur of it. I was surrounded by some elderly gentleman, 4 sat in front of me and 1 sat beside me. In the 62nd minute one of the men in front of me began to use a derogatory term for gay people in order to insult the referee and players, a swift bollocking came from the man to my side along with an explanation of how such words no longer had a place in modern society: eso no vale! ya no es un insulta! Vale ya con esa! (That’s not okay! That’s not an insult anymore! Enough already!) The response of the fan who used the term was an apology, his lesson was learnt. Football has to deal with a lot of negative stereotypes about the behaviour of its fans, and sometimes the criticisms are justified, but it truly cheered me to see someone, a man from a completely older generation as well, taking a small stand such as this when he could have quite easily just let it pass.
Back to the game, in the 68th minute Burgos had perhaps their best chance of the game, a well taken corner was met by a rising head and it had the Arenas keeper completely beat, just not the post. Getxo had their final shot at victory in the 82nd minute when a player found himself with space on the edge of the box but he spooned his shot well over the bar. From here onwards, the pace of the game and hard bounce of the artificial pitch began to take its toll and the play became slightly sloppier as the game fizzled out into a goaless draw, a fair result for both teams.
If you are looking for an authentic, exciting and cheaper lower league alternative to the likes of Athletic, Eibar, Real Sociedad etc then Arenas de Getxo is well worth a visit. The ground and the fans are animated and endearing, and the style of play is definitely not the worst you’ll see. All in all, a great footballing experience.