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Book By: Mark Quay

Madrid one of three trips

Submitted:Feb 23, 2012    Reads: 7    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

25 Madrid 2010 Athletico Madrid versus Liverpool?

I guess the Benfica second leg at Anfield is where it started. One - nil down from the first leg I was confident we could secure a big enough margin of victory to progress. Who would we meet if I was correct Valencia a Spanish city and my desired opponents or Athletico Madrid former club of Fernando and a set of fans who gave us a rapptous reception.

It was to be first face to face meeting with Vincy Chan who bravely came across from Paris that morning having known me for six months via the internet. A daunting encounter and it was in the supporters club that I received her phone call and ambled up to meet her with tickets at the gates that stood behind the Kop grandstand. There she was waiting and I gave her a hug and gentle kiss on the cheek. She was eager to get in and take photos so progress we did and eventually finding our seats for the many photos she was to take. A few of each other and a half time of us both as we where thrilled with the mighty reds marching on to a four - one victory. I introduced her to the kop on our left gave her a hug and fan fare as each goal was scored by Liverpool with little disappointment and some concern when Benfica got one back.

It turned out Athletico where to be our opponents and little was I to know then the anxiety in the days running up to travel I was to encounter. We said our goodbyes with a hug and accidental kiss that caught the side of her lips and went our separate ways from the Centenary stand.

It was a week to go and the Radio was blurting out something about the skies over Europe being filled with Icelandic ash. Not to worry it will be clear in a week and any way Penzance and New quay are open despite the rest our UK air space and airports being closed. Tragic nothing could depart or land.

It was later discussed walking round Bristol as our pace setter group four lads and a young girl walked from one office to another. It was left to yours truly to explain what I heard on the radio. Above was clear blue sky and I failed to mention my impending trip. Anxious no fear!

As the weekend passed nerves descended especially on the Monday when a back up plan was being devised. It involved taking a coach earlier than planned and required enough support which not surprisingly was forthcoming. I was able to coerce Yvonne and four others but too many where concerned about loosing flight money and taking extra days off work. A two day journey was more than many could face and some already dropped out of the trip all together loosing everything they had paid. Laura was getting anxious pressurised and trying to concentrate on her full time job on the Tuesday morning she spoke to me by phone with obvious tears upset even she was expecting not to go.

I was a bit moody at work that day conceding I would not go and even admitting that to Vincy I had a secondary plan spending a couple of nights in Liverpool watching the match in the supporters club and enjoying the city for a few days.

On face book that night as I chatted to Tony, Vincy and others I noticed a cry from Laura clear the skies later followed by a miracle and I had to investigate. It turned out that Laura had performed a miracle (or so legend must say) as at Ten O'clock that night the UK skies and European would open. Common sense or commercial pressure whatever with Easy jet ready and Ryan air all cancelled it was off to Liverpool at five o'clock the next morning Douggie at the helm for a three night stay in sunny Madrid.

Twenty to five in the dark April morning my alarm awoke from my slumber quickly I rose dressed and after a final check jumped into my car heading for a rendezvous with Douglas. It was he who followed me as I parked up and removed my suitcase dragging it on my right hand into his boot. My left arm continued to struggle with Tennis elbow and I sought to use it as little as possible, despite the noise created and undoubted annoyance to other passengers I dragged my suitcase on its wheels every where during this trip only carrying it down stairs as required.

Soon we where on the motorway travelling at a speed I care not to mention. The empty road apart from Lorries meant there was only a few other motorist to get in our way. Birmingham was a doddle at this time of the morning and it was not long before we stopped for petrol and a hot drink. The car park was empty apart from a few scattered cars and a couple one in a Liverpool top who passed by. A lady in an adjacent car acknowledged me although we where and remain strangers passing in the morning.

The remaining journey was in the day light so enabling a fantastic though nervous view of the Mersey its sand banks and Runcorn. The bridge that crosses with adjacent rail line is a magnificent building and can be admired from a distance although I have found it daunting when driving over it. Once I recall seeing a police officer looking over its girdlers for a possible jumper.

Despite a wrong turning which Douggie was soon able to correct we made good time and able to witness an early morning easy jet plane depart from JL airport. Having parked up a lady asked if we where flying to which I confidently announced yes having received a text from compatriot Tony Audley. The Sun was shinning and skies blue giving a clear view of the runway and inside the blue River Mersey adjacent. I first checked re our flight and it was confirmed ours was due out although despite our online boarding cards we had to check in again.

It was time for breakfast and drinks in the Weatherspoon plus the first of my photos especially for Yvonne although at Douggies request I did not antagonise her by sending it on.

Down stairs we waited for check in to open meeting first John Shaw then more and more of Laura's party until all twelve of us where here. During the waiting period I secured an interview with a short attractive dark haired girl from City radio. Her short skirt and dark tights that covered her gorgeous pins plus low cut top was a turn on and added incentive to accept the interview. Proudly I announced we where reds heading to Madrid and absolutely delighted to be flying that morning. She was impressed and thanked me before heading and seeking her next interview. Brian was later to out do me with a radio and sky interview both of which where shown. I was and remain jealous although Brian is more natural and thinks on his feet my voice is also a turn off as it can be rough and sometimes I loose it altogether.

After checking in and the easiest security check I have envisaged thanks to short queue and very few flights the attraction of another bar for beer and coke plus its attractive and pleasant waitresses appeased us while we waited for our gate to open. Another easy but longer wait before boarding a two thirds full flight that was to take us to our destination. I enjoyed three seats to myself bagging somewhat unusually the window seat although I failed to look out much and enjoy the ash free skies.

Clear white clouds were the order of the day as I gulped down my sarnies and drink purchased in Smiths that morning. Madrid Airport and landing couldn't come quick enough another target reached soon to be followed by our hotel one used on a previous venture. As I rushed through customs and passport control I noticed again the ease and wished all flights could be the same. Next time Hamburg if we get there would not be as easy regrettable.

Outside we gathered and grouped meeting other members who had travelled from Luton including the beautiful Dawn. She adores her husband David who is a charming tall friendly man however she still has time to greet me with a hug and kiss on the cheek which was repeated during the trip and included a goodbye kiss. I was jealous of old John who got extra favours bought only due to his age.

All gathered and split into groups Annie with Billie Wheelchair bound Andrew and Paul Henwood had to travel by Taxi while another group of 4 joined them. I travelled with the rest by Metro involving two changes but an interesting and exciting venture especially for Dawn going by Choo Choo,

Our hotel tube station and we rose from the underground into the day light and familiar surroundings despite Dave going the wrong way we where soon all in our hotel and back down to meet up and go on our first venture. The pub followed my meal appealed it was surprising how late it was but the extra hour ahead in Spain made a difference.

I can't recall where went for a drink first although I think it was the one we where later to frequent a lot Tony sent me a text to say where they were and I soon found it enjoying my first coke while Douglas also had a coke. I think it was an oldish woman behind the bar and if I recall correctly seated on her own was a middle aged lady who smiled at me as I entered. It made me wonder why after she finished her cigarette as she left soon after on her own.

Moving on we ventured into a restaurant many of our party used in a previous trip although Tony Douggie and myself hadn't. It was a chance when the food was out for a first group photo minus our lovely organiser the much praised Laura. We failed to toast her although the clink of glasses made up for it. The food was a mixture supposedly a Tapas bar (buffet style) but all agreed it was disappointing and we failed to return. For the remainder of the evening we split up some heading for central Madrid while I was among the party who returned to our first choice bar before being among the first (a tired John Shaw was the leader) who retired to a shower and night of rest. My room mate did not surprisingly disturb me but I soon was back asleep despite his heavy snoring and would arise early that morning.

The morning of the match

The traffic outside our hotel as our room was at the front could be heard through the open window a necessity to counter the warmth that over powered us as we slept. It was to be a lovely day despite gloomy forecasts from our resident weather expert. I showered in the bathroom trying to be as silent as I could to avoid awakening my snoring room mate. I an early riser tried to be considerate dressing in the darkened area furthest away from the window bed where he slept.

I popped out into the morning day and took a stroll amongst the smokers Japanese tourist and youngsters preparing for a day. The sky was light blue with white puffs of cloud and the sun beaming through. Not a rain cloud in sight for my short stroll where I had gone with Jo on our last encounter. Returning not long after to take my place among only a few other guests in the breakfast room. To my knowledge I was the first member of Laura's party to consume the morning treats.

I think Tony was the next to arrive as I tucked into a plateful of bacon scrambled eggs and quiche. It was tasty especially the latter although the scrambled egg appearance was not appreciated. The variety of breads were amazing although one I found bland while another extremely delightful on the taste buds. Tony went for a plate of fruit making me jealous as I had missed that item settling for cereal followed by two different varieties of yoghurt both where delicious and I vowed to try another variety over the remaining two days.

The regular orange juice I gulped down going back for more was a bonus but the cakes including doughnut where to tempting to finish off the breakfast although I also secreted away a Banana for later and tub of pate. The latter I was to enjoy at home on warm toast similar to paste it was delightful.

John and Douggie where soon to arrive plus my room mates and the Thwaites. Laura was to receive a special welcome from me a kiss as usual although to my surprise (but wicked pleasure) John Shaw missed out on that delight. Laura was cheerful after the events and tension it was a relief for her to be there although she had to get back early the next morning. Her flight had been delayed and she travelled late at night on her own to the hotel so it was a relief for us all.

Outside the traffic continued to flow in the morning sunshine a warm day necessitated no coat although I took my Istanbul cap with peak at the back causing John to ask where he could buy one. With the sun sometimes in my eyes the "man with the hat" as the delightful little Dutch girl called me in Barcelona turned it round to reduce its glare. A shirt and my black jumper complete with Five valleys badge I proudly display even though I have yet to complete the full distance till sunny September.

The Metro was sparsely crowded as the early morning workers had arrived although a few shirts of our opponents but no apparently red shirts where on display. I viewed some of my fellow travellers with suspicion especially the elderly males and we were all mindful of where to stand and watch our backs. With my left arm suffering and aching despite the lack of use I found it hard to place in my left pocket and all my valuable items where place on the other side which could be protected more easily against wandering hands. As it turned out it was more likely to me assisting some young lady or gently touching a shoulder despite any wicked thoughts I may have.

After arriving at Opera tube stop and emerging to view the work and boarded area I recalled was still ongoing we had to seek directions to our intended destination. It was not a long stroll through the streets and pedestrians the chuggers and a

Beggar or two seeking our sympathy. It was familiar territory having decided to get off and walk rather than change lines for our intended Sol area the hub of the city. We had purchased our tickets at the hotel and where looking forward to the tour which we discovered was to start outside the MacDonald's on the opposite side of the road. The Sol was just below the intriguing Grand Ville area where we had stayed for the Real Madrid fixture and encountered many interesting events that would entice us back. The paved area not a square or circle embraced numerous tourists of various decent plus attractions similar to those of Barcelona. The water feature and statues including the city emblem remained the same. A Telly Tubby and versions of the headless man seated all day in the hot sun would entice tourists into parting with their cash.

The red bus was greeted with enthusiasm and we all piled on and grabbed what seats remained with me taking one at the back later to be joined by a lady with partner seated either side of the aisle. My commentary did not work and it was a relief when an empty seat meant she could join her other half on the top of the open top bus tour. Our line was red and if we had been savvy we could have changed to the blue. As I switched and plugged my commentary in another young attractive lady joined me sitting in the now vacant back seat on the right hand side. She had a short pony tails and wore long distinctive orange pants, her English was good but was not her first language. Realising her headset would not work I gave her my right hand ear piece although I realised she might not fully understand the commentary so pointed out where we were on her open map. She appreciated the gesture and it was only when a couple to my left moved did she swap seats to listen in her first language, I was pleased when she accepted my camera to take a snap making a great deal of effort she turned the focus to portrait to create a better image.

When she asked me to return the favour I was not so good she had to turn it round and point out which button to press as I nervously took the snap swaying on the moving bus but did get a respectable picture.

We continued on tour passing various water features and architecture some was familiar and I took plenty of snaps without knowing what they where. At a stop I strolled down to the front of the bus for an opportune picture of my smiling and (non smiling Douglas) supporters now grouped together. This brought a smile from the young lady as I returned one she was to repeat when leaving the bus on arrival at the Royal palace. At a distance I was still able to follow her with her coloured outfit she stood out well in the open pavements uncrowded but picturesque in the warming sun.

The tour had taken us pass the Circulo Bellas Artes, Museo Thyssen and Museo Reina Sofia. All of which means nothing to me although we did pass some familiar territory pass the Arts museum loved by Tony and where Mauricio Pellegrino had passed by us with two other presumable red members of staff on our previous visit.

From there we progressed to Jardin Botanico, Museo de Prado, Puerta de Alcala, Barrio de Salamanca, Plaza de Colon and Plaza de Cibeles Before passing the familiar area of Grand Via. The hotel we used before was unchanged as was the MacDonald's with tourist and the obvious "ladies of the night" standing outside and grouped together chain smoking which is a real turn off. It was difficult to get any reasonable picture on the moving bus but later maybe!?

The tour progressed pass the Plaza de Espana a later visiting point and the Temple de Debod. The Teatro Real (was showing Chicargo I think from the picture I took) Followed by other mentioned land marks Palacio Real, Puerta de Toledo and San Francisco el Grande. As the tour drew to a conclusion for us five lads we passed by the delightful Catedral Almundena and familiar Plaza Mayor before returning and disembarking at Sol.

It was still warm and a welcoming drink was needed in a bar where we chatted before going for a stroll which included a visit back to a former hotel just to see the girls. I expressed my disappointment we had not passed the Bernebeu but have since learnt an alternative tour we could have taken in addition would have included this. Never mind! The girls where a long way up the street from what I recall and not so attractive One short and young looking appeared to be barely sixteen and we avoided eye contact or the enticing smile. I so much wanted to go up to one for an opportune picture or get them to call out (and embarrass) "Hi Tony" perhaps depositing a note in an ample chest. No courage or to much fear of the possible consequences held me back though I did from a distance take a snap of a group huddled together outside MacDonald's while nearby a group of students frolicked unaware or maybe foolishly in the circumstances.

A meal followed in which I enjoyed an inspiring Paella something I intend to cook at home as I did before. Douggie being who he is had a simple burger based food while we where more adventurous even enjoying an tasty ice cream which melted on the taste buds.

The time passed so quickly in the pleasant company as we strolled on through the busy streets to our metro and returning to our hotel for a passing drink before a shower and change of clothes for soon we would be heading to Estadio Vicente Calderon a short ten minute walk away for the nights entertainment.

AT Madrid versus Liverpool F.C

Seven o'clock local Spanish time and we gathered in the Hotel reception prepared to walk to the ground. Laura was there with Dawn plus Dave in addition the Wards with Billie fully prepared to push Andrew to the ground. He was some where in the centre of the reception while we gathered on the couch. Tony Douggie, John, Duncan and me plus I'm sure a few others who probable got dragged into a bar en route as we strolled towards the stadium. It was a pleasant evening warm and the blue skies dominated still. We hardly noticed the traffic or fellow pedestrians but the old female beggar with empty coke cup at the end of an outstretched hand was skipped past. We all became use to ignoring her cries any way she had swopped shifts as one of the crew commented en route. At the end of road the metro to our left a statue in front and the bridge that crossed the water way still being built on as it was on our first visit and probable will be if we return. Ahead of the Estadio Vicente Calderone (a former work colleague Julie shared that surname) with its blue background and giant notice visible in the near distance. Because of the river there was no direct route but one road to cross then back over again pass the club shop open and full of customers through the opposition fans as we made our way round to gate 7 and our turnstiles.

The clean pavements and stadium walls shone in the sun and there to greet us was the familiar faces of Liverpool club stewards who also recognised us and scanned our fan cards in for future reference. One begin chatting before being called away and eventually we where let in to the dark area under the stadium with the green grass in sight. As it turned out he had been allowed through the wrong gate and a commotion arose eventually resolved when I and fellow fans were redirected up the correct gang way to a refreshment area behind our seats on level one. Upon entry another and first opportunity inside to take pictures and with only us inside I snapped Tony next to Duncan proudly displaying his scarf.

As the minutes ticked by our section and the stadium filled with reportedly 700 reds getting in. The Warburtons had travelled by car and there was a special reception (and photo) when Yvonne, Mac and Craig arrived having also travelled over a thousand miles land and sea to join us. They would return by the same route in time for the Burnley match three days later.

The match itself was a scrappy encounter with an early goal for the home team fortunately never added too. A Benyon goal was disallowed and later Jo confirmed by text what others had reported that it was onside and so what for the extra officials (behind the goal) and Referees assistant. One - nil I considered ok and even without marksman Torres was over comfortable at fortress Anfield. Only the fear of a possible away goal but I firmly believed we could score three goals that would be needed to secure our progress to the final in Hamburg.

93 mins: FT Atletico Madrid 1 Liverpool 0 Match report From Daily Telegraph 23/4/2010
After all the effort to get here Liverpool's fans can be forgiven for wondering if it was actually worth the bother. Not because of the defeat but because as European semi-finals go this one falls straight in to the soon top be forgotten category. (Just being there was unique never to be forgotten)

Liverpool were timid and cagey from the start when perhaps Atletico were there to be taken. The home side deserved the win for their greater endeavour but they too lacked any real style of clinical intent.

Benítez will fancy Liverpool's chances of turning round the tie at Anfield. Though an early away goal would make things interesting. More interesting than tonight's offering, that's for sure.

89 mins: Reyes has a bout of conveniently timed cramp as Atletico are obviously happy to settle for the 1-0 win.

86 mins: Gerrard almost created something with a driving run to the line but his centre to an unmarked Johnson three yards out in the middle was deflected enough to deny the full back the chance. Gerrard still driving Liverpool forward even in this messy, disappointing night for his team.

85 mins: Forlan is taken off to the rapturous appreciation of the home crowd. On comes Salvio.

82 mins: The time taken for Gerrard to take deep free kick from allowed Benítez to give his captain a lecture on what exactly to do with it. He either didn't listen or the advice was very bad as it was slung harmlessly out of play.

80 mins: From Henry Winter on Twitter: "Atletico nothing special...particularly without Aguero....but nice to watch Reyes without one of the Nevilles nibbling at his ankles."

77 mins: The party very nearly shifted up a gear as Ujfalusi - the man of the match to this point - pinged in a cracking shot that demanded the best from Reina to block before Carragher mopped up in front of him.

75 mins: They are having a party here in the Vincente Calderón. 1-0 up with 15 minutes to go in this match and another 90 at least at Anfield might be a little premature but everyone's having a good time so what's the harm?

73 mins: Still 0-0 over in Hamburg as the terrifying, for anyone who saw the league match between the two recently anyway, prospect of a Liverpool-Fulham final lives on.

70 mins: Probably Liverpool's best chance is wasted thanks to a touch so heavy from Kuyt he may as well be wearing lead boots. Babel took his time finding the angled pass as the Atletico defence parted like the Red Sea but found the Dutchman who had only the task of touching the ball on for a one-on-one with the goalkeeper. He fluffed it and took it wide. He recovered to cross and the danger was alive for a moment but not too much longer.

66 mins: Ngog's evening of frustrating ineffectiveness is over. He did little on a big night for him but to be fair he wasn't given a great deal to work with. On comes Ryan Babel, for his, slightly shorter, evening of frustrating ineffectiveness.

65 mins: Gerrard sees De Gea off his line and tries a Xabi Alonso special from inside his own half. It isn't too far away. The locals take it as an insult though and let Gerrard know what they think of his impudence in no uncertain terms.

60 mins: Reina shows why Liverpool were so keen to pin him down to a long term target. A ball to the back of the box found Simao racing on to it. It wasn't easy but the Portuguese connected well and volleyed on target. From no distance Reina gave the big hands to tip it round the frame of the goal. Superb save and more jitters for Liverpool after they had seemed to have settled in to the game a bit.

56 mins: This referee is about as sympathetic to injured players as Omar Little is to drug dealers. Jurardo is the latest player to go down in apparent pain and receive short shrift from the official. he did look hurt but the referee wasn't even going to stop the play at first. brutal stuff. But he is the law.

54 mins: A glorious chance comes and goes for Atletico with Forlan guilty of rank wastefulness. I don't know if he thought he was offside - he did look it being so far ahead of the play but wasn't - but alone in the box he elected to try and prod the ball in from 15 yards rather than take it down and compose himself for a shot. A let off for Liverpool.

51 mins: Liverpool have started the second half in much higher gear than they did the first. Kuyt chests a ball to drive in to the box but the angle is against him and he is held off the ball for a goal kick before only a fantastic covering tackle from Perea prevents Gerrard getting a run at goal.

48 mins: Gerrard tries, and fails, to buy a foul. Typical English, eh? This referee is having a great game, unflinchingly refusing to indulge any overacting and letting the meaty tackles ride. Good to see.

46 mins: No changes from either side at the break, Benítez sticking steadfastly to his 60 minute rule no doubt.

45 mins: HT Atletico Madrid 1 Liverpool 0
Half time arrives with the host's good value for their lead. Liverpool have been anaemic in both attack and defence. Cross words have been exchanged between those in black. The goal itself was a gift. Benítez has work to do here. He could start by pushing someone up to support the stranded N'Gog and telling his players to take a step forward every now and again and test his theory that Atletico aren't quite the team defending that they can be on the attack.

42 mins: Atletico are enjoying themselves down the Liverpool left. Ujfalusi was able to pick up a loose ball that should have been Agger's and skate round the Dane, Mascherano and Kyrgiakos before shooting wide from a tight angle. there is hesitancy in the Liverpool backline that is begging Atletico to have a go.

39 mins: Liverpool are defending very deep, giving Atletico the freedom of two thirds of the pitch when they have possession. The Spaniards are happy to knock it around between themselves on the half way lien and wait for an opening. You can only think Liverpool are hoping to draw them forward and attack on the break against a suspect defence. But when they do N'Gog is isolated so it's redundant anyway at present.

36 mins: Gordon Brown is going on about good neighbours, or home and away, the audio is blurred drifting over from the news desk to our sport hub; Taylor is wittering about assistant assistant referees: "I'm still out with the jury"; the TV people are playing montage scenes of footballers looking angry or nonplussed. The football itself is struggling to hold the attention here...

33 mins: Panic stations in the Liverpool defence every time Reyes or Ujfalusi are allowed to play little give and goes around the area. The final ball is lacking so far but there is only one team that looks threatening here. N'Gog is being given impossible tasks to chase down long balls up to him with the excellent Dominguez completely unfazed by a foot race.

30 mins: A spot of keep ball from Atletico has taken the sting out of a match that was hardly crackling with electricity.

25 mins: Gerrard tries to take on the entire Atletico defence single-handedly. And very nearly manages it before he is shepherded out. You get a sense that the Liverpool captain is going to be pivotal in his side getting back in to this game.

22 mins: After Ujfalusi tries one from 30 yards and slips as he does Reyes goes one better - in distance at least - by having a pop from barely in the Liverpool half. If I was Reina I would have been insulted by that. If I was Reyes I would have been embarrassed by how far wide the effort was.

19 mins: Benayoun has the ball in the net but the linesman's flag cuts his celebrations short. Gerrard has decided to do something about this sorry mess and drove in to the box before rippling the side netting with a left footed half volley that looked tricky even before he fluffed it. Positive signs at least.

17 mins: Graham Taylor is "open-mouthed at Liverpool's poor start". Not an observation, that's what he said.

15 mins: Dogs and small children across Spain will be covering their ears as Carragher screams in his fiercely high pitched tones in the general direction of Kyrgiakos. The Greek defender was at fault for the goal and again when a dangerous cross fizzed past him but to safety from a Liverpool point of view. Liverpool are shaken and Reyes is seeing plenty of the ball now. Danger here for the visitors.

13 mins: That was wretched defending from Liverpool and it's given Atletico an injection of pace and enthusiasm. Liverpool look rocked. They did have a hell of a journey here though, eh? Eh? They did though didn't they?

09 mins: Just as this game looked like it was going to be a complete non-event up popped Liverpool's bête noir Diego Forlan to do what he does best i.e. make a pig's ear of a chance and then scuff one in to the Scouser's net. The first sweeping move of the match saw the ball out wide and whipped in towards an unmarked Forlan on the penalty spot. He fooled everyone with a clever air shot before recovering to bumble it round Reina and in.

That's livened everyone up at least.

09 mins: GOAL! Forlan gets a scrappy finish to hand Atletico the lead. Atletico 1 Liverpool 0

08 mins: It's slow, slow, quick, quick, slow so far. Minus the quick, quick. Deliberate, safety first passing and tentative approach play...

05 min: Untidy from both teams in the early exchanges. Gerrard tries one of his Hollywood 60 yard diagonal balls. N'Gog was about 30 yards in front of him...

03 min: Sloppy play from Forlan gives Liverpool the chance to counter. Kuyt attempts to thread a ball through to Benayoun but it is read as easily as a copy of the Beano and comes to nought.

01 min: Mascherano shows little sign of his pre-match niggle with a customary reducer in the opening minute that brings the match's first free kick, swung high, wide and ugly from Jose Antonio Reyes.

19.42: 700 Liverpool fans have made the journey to Madrid. And they are in good spirits, despite all the effort. Well, some made more effort than others: "Drove down to Stansted this morning, got on a plane and three hours later I'm sat in the sunshine having a beer," said one ruddy faced expeditionary. "What's all the fuss about?". Quite.

Atletico Madrid: De Gea, Ujfalusi, Perea, Dominguez, Antonio Lopez, Paulo Assuncao, Simao, Raul Garcia, Reyes, Jurado, Forlan.
Subs: Sergio Asenjo, Valera, Camacho, Salvio, Juanito, Cabrera, Borja.

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Agger, Kuyt, Lucas, Mascherano, Benayoun, Gerrard, Ngog.
Subs: Cavalieri, Aquilani, Babel, Degen, El Zhar, Ayala, Pacheco.

Referee: Laurent Duhamel (France)

As usual we where kept inside watching the home supporters slowly disperse and receiving very little appreciation from our team below. Kirk and Carragher are always well aware of the nature of the following but others including Captain fantastic (perhaps with other troubles on his mind) should do more.

We as fans enjoy mixing with opposition supporters many have remained to clap our coaches or more often swap scarves if we would agree all for souvenirs and friendship. As on our first visit walking back completely safe and without fear we where awarded a guard of honour by the Madrid fans clapping as we passed exchanging high fives and a few hugs it was an electric and unprecedented atmosphere. We proudly walked and applauded there generous gesture and in the dark continued towards our hotel via local and much frequented bar.

Already full we managed to struggle through and the busy bar man salvadorie!? Probable spelt wrong eventually served us. Laura was in there as the lovely Dawn who gave me a special hug while I was still wearing my white Istanbul hat back to front now and earning the nick name "bad boy" from Laura. I did make a point of ensuring a goodbye kiss when I became one of the early leavers tired happy and satisfied with the result. We where there to enjoy our stay and a Football result was insignificant in that.

I would soon be in my bed after a refreshing shower and reviewing my texts one from Vincy in Hong Kong who clearly didn't realise the time although it was probable early morning in her home land. Soon I was head down and asleep to be joined by my snoring room mate.

Friday and our cable car ride!

Waking up on the Friday morning after the game was much as the first morning. A new fine day with fresh air and clear blue skies. The sun coming through our curtains that could not contain the noise of traffic outside.

Once dressed and out for an early morning stroll though late for me I noticed a police car with a couple of officers of the law around. There appeared to be no reason for their presence and when I returned the smokers where outside but police no more. Breakfast was much the same routine although I enjoyed fruit mixed with yoghurt and later some cereal. The donuts and croissants plus cakes where as tasty as before though this morning some what surprisingly I omitted to snap an apple or banana!. Tony joined me followed later on the four seater table I had earlier nabbed by John and Douglas. Duncan was soon to be a late but welcome arrival to our group.

First stop was the Athletico Madrid club shop a serene and pleasant walk again in the enjoyable pleasant morning warmth. In the club shop only just open a few customers where about as we mingled and sought items to purchase. I was disappointed to discover no jars of sweets to take home but acquired a relatively inexpensive mug for my work colleague and the bag to go with it. John surveyed the wine on display "never get it through customs" he proclaimed and the price was expensive. His disappointment at not being able to purchase a badge was turned to glee after a conversation with a local who generously acted as translator. Not only that but he forgo the last badge ensuring a delighted John was able to return to Bristol with an extra special and prized possession.

Outside with the sun shining down directly on the club shop window I handed my camera to expert photographer Tony Audley who nervously took a snap. John using his own also added another top my collection.

With purchases in hand we returned to our rooms to leave them in safety before heading back once more passing the same female beggar as before the open bar still to be frequented again and crossing the road onto the paved area with newsagent selling material that wouldn't be so easily displayed in the uk. Down the stairs and through the glassed doors turning left to pass through the ticket barriers we were soon on the tube led by myself and heading to Arguelles for the Teleferico cable car ride which crossed the Casa De Campo area. Once there we five lads Tony, Duncan, John Douglas and myself crossed the road and with assistance from a map combined with the eagle eyes of Tony spotting the correct street name and were soon on track heading along a main street. Traffic was heavy and fortunately awkward pedestrians not a hazard as we found our way to the cable car. A sing complete with scaled down carriage was another opportunity for a picture to be taken the item prominent amongst the greenery that surrounded it.

Left onwards we proceeded down a stairway through more greenery than we had so far witnessed in this metropolitan city. Though full of sculptures and water fountains only small parks where prominent so far however what we where to enjoy was massive.

The cable car fitted all five of us in one plus a sixth person could easily have joined us as we entered and waited patiently to depart moving slowly and excitedly at first before embarking into the day light and up and away into the sky. Empty cars seemed to be the only items on the lines in the opposite direction as I faced forward with John and Duncan sitting opposite Tony and Douggie. Photos again were difficult to take and the immense area of parkland below predominately green trees was on a major scale. A gleeful Tony was in many of my pictures as Douglas looked around inquisitive and unimpressed by what lay before us. John was happy and Duncan enjoyed being a group member but I don't recall him taking any pictures or even having a camera. The major road that we crossed was busy but a Friday we though was the reason and roof tops of houses or flats not close enough to touch but large and amazing to be so close without peering into the occupant inside privacy. They were like prisoners who could escape to work or the local shops.

The downward slope entering into the station at the far end from where we came enabling our group to disembark and enjoy a stroll in the finest greenery. Cyclist and runners where in abundance plus the local fire/police officers on what appeared to be an exercise. In the distant valley the sound of an amusement park could be heard as the travelling vehicle we could soon see ventured up and down looping and rising high before descending again to screams from excited passengers. A stroll on up to the terrace meant we could enjoy a drink and the whole view of where we had come from and the return voyage. It was hot very hot and Tony enjoyed the sun like a true sun worshipper tilting his balding head backwards to soak up the sun and nod off as I almost did while silently in the corner our Douglas did. A few local small birds passed bravely by hopping at close prominently hopeing for a few scraps and even dancing on the vacant tables before a group of five English speaking women abducted it for there drinks and pleasure.

The view was terrific and greenery unbeatable however a drink and pleasure can last only so long and in time honoured fashion we took the return journey when too my horror I discovered that my card was full and so no more snaps could be taken. We where only seeing and enjoying the fruits of the first journey but with knowledge and ability to look elsewhere. Children played in the school yard below and people looked like giants compared to the ant like creatures when we where truly in the skies.

We were to return to the centre of town first discovering a kebab shop "Istanbul" for a light meal as we will still full from breakfast and after an amble stroll in the Sol area discovered a cheap bar before the showers came down on us. An outside covered seat and table protected us although still the shower dripped upon us. A hungry Douglas woofed down a plate of left over chips and hardly had more than one coke as I did myself not joining in the alcohol drinkers. Joined eventually by Brian Stubbs a likeable and cheerful character full of life with scouse accent a great companion and leader in many ways. His specs defined his character along with his recently short hair cut a bonus in the sun but not as good as my cap for protection from the sun. I was also wearing a band to discourage insect bites wether it was the reason I fortunately returned home bite free I guess I will never know for it was not as hot or insect infected as Barcelona had been.

There was more than one Shower as we conversed but amongst the highlights of the trip was soon to follow and it was I who was the major recipient.

Sitting behind us completely unnoticed was a young lady fairly attractive in her twenties. Her hair was dyed purple in parts and she had studs her in pretty face plus later I was to notice a tattoo on her right arm. She started speaking to me first in Spanish claiming she couldn't understand which language we where speaking. It may have been Duncan who with his accent and lisp even we could not always understand often nodding in agreement and to his credit it was he who brought us to this bar. In an instant I jutted backwards to speak to her starting with sorry English and she soon changed into a Californian accent as we where to converse for a long time. I think she was actually seeking some one to buy her another drink and it was not to be me though I managed to retain the conversation for a long period discovering much about her as she revealed date of birth (March 7th and age 27). She was on tour and even had an English contact opening her address book to reveal a Newcastle upon Tyne address and learnt far more from us about the intelligible Geordies than she would have on a visit. Her bikini would be an appropriate dress though in reality I believe she was looking for some mug to take her (and pay for her) night clubbing she lived in a cheap part of Madrid and was attempting to use her femineity on me. Failing miserable she left for "a coffee" which puzzled me as hadn't I seen her drinking one or was it my imagination only to return 45 minutes later having left her cigarette lighter behind.

I tried to demand a Ransome but was shouted down by my colleagues and admitting defeat and that we where sure she was to return handed it back to her to continue the conversation which included details on her former boyfriend her lack of a mobile which I didn't ask for and the knife she carried using only once. I would have to disarm her I thought and stupidly failed to enquire if she had it on her then. After a while one or two lads behind distracted her with offers of a cigarette and in a flash she was soon on to them especially as later I believe they gave her money to buy drinks. I was not bothered as the lads told me it was the end rightly so and having been proved correct I was content as we burst into song much to the annoyance of the girls new Californian mates. "Are they annoying you?" I heard one of them ask as if we where trouble some English or looking for an excuse to take her elsewhere. "No" I heard her voice reply "they are just having fun" which was true I joined in rapport and in full voice as Brian led to the Heartbeat theme Maxi Maxi Rodriguez runs down the wing dor Dadadadede dadadadede!

All good things have got to come to and end and hunger beckoned as we rose at different times and it was suggested I say good bye. Having already planned it I declared I would and also get a kiss from her much to the lads surprise although John followed for one as well I went to her (name I've forgot as she did mine) put my arms around her wished her a safe journey then to with the intention of annoying her new friends gave her a kiss which was on the lips. I am unsure who instigated that but it certainly worked as I had enjoyed a hefty snog without buying her a drink what those lads would get I do not know. John Shaw sneakily followed up anything for a pretty girl and any way at his age he can get away with it. I walked away and didn't turn my head once in satisfaction at the one up man ship I had performed. What they wanted I where to get I do not know.

The last Meal (supper) and return to La Prada bar

With the evening still warm under the clear blue Madrid skies Five hungry red men strolled away into the sol area attempting to decide where to eat. Tony believed we would struggle to agree and secretly said to me get Jo back she's a woman and would make the decision. I'm not sure he is entirely correct and though I was certain that Hamburg would include her I was not so bothered. I had surprisingly not mooched or got upset about her absence despite our undoubted fondness for each other which I am more willing to express than Jo.

I had a brain wave and suggested we go to a restaurant Steve and Tim used on a previous trip as I new exactly where to go but probable not the most direct route. Much to all dismay we had to go up Grand Ville through the shops and busy pedestrian areas plus to our amusement the 24 hours a day ladies which I have been told one of the lads visited and spent a lot of money!

Well we all strolled up thinking it was a long time till we realised a group of three black girls in a shop doorway was our first spot followed by some more causian girls. The predominantly appeared on the left as we walked upwards although outside our old Grand Ville hotel as on Real Madrid visit they huddled in a small group ready to entice any unsuspecting punter.

It was still busy as we dodged through the crowded street turning left away and down until to my horror we reached the closed restaurant boarded up and empty. I was upset and embarrassed as we moved on passing one reject until we stumbled on and agreed to go inside an appealing bar/restaurant. Although the eating area was empty and the English style bar empty at that point we where not put off as the waiters organised two tables for our group and we sat down eventually choosing a pork meal.

It was to be fabulous with many of our group not being able to consume all the large piece of pork placed in front of us and supplemented with a few vegetables and spuds plus bread. It was extraordinarily delicious washed down with a variety of drinks and the clink of glasses and "cheers" as we celebrated the end of our trip and a wonderful experience.

The end of the meal and we exited out of the crowded bar with much conversation and seating at bar English style although the smoking which is allowed inside was a nuisance. Many of the English lads considerately go outside to indulge an example that should be followed by all.

Again we strolled through the less crowded evening streets on to the Metro and back to our hotel via the bar we had enjoyed so much. A warm welcome again was received as we spent our money and even a visit from the local officers of the law six of them in total all setting a fine example drinking coke. They smiled at us and chatted amongst themselves leading to the amusing comment from our host that "this was the local police station"

The remained huddled outside when I decide to leave for my room in what I new was the safest short walk to our hotel across one side street and less than 100 yards away. I have since (for the Chelsea final game of the season) enjoyed a genuine police escort as either side of me I strolled up from the supporters club to the ground with two off duty coppers either side of me. (One was retired but why spoil a good story!)

Saturday and the trip home!

Saturday morning another day another dollar as they say our final hours in the Spanish capital commenced once more with a bright new dawn as after getting dressed and going for a stroll to check out the banks before foolishly realizing a Saturday they are all closed even in Spain. The bar was still open serving customers and its gleeful host waived as I passed by.

Breakfast was unchanged and I had virtually packed everything as is my way while my compatriots had little but plenty of time to complete this task.

In the bright early morning I joined John for a pleasant stroll in the direction I had yet to go we discovered a roundabout with a creative statute in its centre that despite only having my mobile which is difficult to see even at the best of times but can produce a quality picture. On Johns fine advice I positioned my self in a place where the sun shone on its noble front and snapped away.

Near by was the river with its much maligned and still to be completed work. A gentle stroll chatting as we went passed by numerous female joggers a pregnant walker and hurried workers with coffee in hand no beggars here as we enjoyed each moment of our company before turning left and left again back to our hotel to join our remaining supporters. With a change of plan five of us were to take the metro and meet up with Brian at the airport while he and the Wards (wheel chair bound Andrew) were forced to take a Taxi.

This was a blessing as I had little Euros left and had that morning spent a few on sweets to secretly leave for a pleasant young lady at work. She knows who leaves them and has never mentioned it smiling sweetly and seductively at me.

I worked out the route following advice at the hotel reception although with line four closed an alternative was found. We soon repeated a mistake made once before taking a train that went only one stop to an incorrect destination and returning to correct our mistake. At one stop a couple I recognised or at least the blonde from the ground and Athens as I recall her wishing we had a welcoming party upon arrival at Manchester. She never smiled at me though clearly realized we where fellow reds and I decided not to attempt conversation. Brian was there to meet us and with some John Shaw cunning or inspiration we got ahead in the queue soon to be waiting in the lounge passing time. Despite a delay we where eventually all queuing in the over heated and in need of ventilation airport. It seemed to take an age and we witnessed the adjacent gate quickly disperse despite there departure time being after ours. Witnessing our Easy jet plane arrive and its passengers disembark before eventually we where able to get on board and a place in my case by the window for a sleep. A safe landing at John Lennon airport and good byes said Tony walked back with Chauffer Moreton and his two home ward passengers Shaw and Markey. A shocked expression on Tony's face said it all when he witnessed the price Douggie payed for parking which he if pre booked could have saved £30?

It was goodbye as our cars parked almost opposite with one space apart reversed and headed out to our separate destinations.

At the speed of light and while I slept soundly we headed down the M6 & m5 stopping only briefly at Frankley and then onwards for my car at Cheltenham. Douggie showed a courtesy as he got out and we said our final good byes before he left never to be seen again and impossible to catch followed by myself leaving at Junction twelve not thirteen as normal but still arriving home via the Fish and chip shop for a much needed meal to be enjoyed. The trip over what an adventure I recalled as my colleagues would come tired of hearing my tales in the days to come.

Regretfully the second leg was only won two - one after extra time. Though another victory and reason to celebrate when two nil up the Forlan conciliation goal sent the travelling and much admired supporters into ecstasy. They had been in full voice out singing the vocal and joyous kop all night with there scarves like a helicopter even when loosing. They were proud to be there as we where in Madrid and would have been in Hamburg to face English foes Fulham!


Mr and Mrs Salvatore win the Honorary Scousers award for their much appreciated welcome and service in their bar in Madrid.

Source Brian the scouser Tommy!

This Madrid trip was voted best European trip of the season by our supporters


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