Emmet Ryan went drinking on a bad night for Real Madrid, here’s what happened.
A Por La Novena. That was on the shirts of so many Real Madrid fans in Milano a year ago. They failed in one of the most exciting games I have ever had the privelege to witness. Tonight was not about the Novena or even the Decima. Real Madrid were looking for their 11th Champions League title and they needed to get past Juventus to keep that dream alive.
Tuesday night was hard. The heat in Madrid made sleep difficult. I eventually met a few of my fellow Euro hacks for lunch around 2.30pm local time before getting accreditation for the weekend. The day however was all about the other sporting event taking place in Madrid this week. Real’s football team hosted Juventus and I was determined to get a few beers in with Sam Meyerkopf while watching the locals go through the emotional gamut.
Fabrica Maravillas was the first stop. They didn’t have the game but they are the only brewpub in this city. Spain’s craft beer scene is at the embronyic stage. I meet people like Teresa Galvan in Espiga and I see the potential. Tonight in this little pub in a cool part of town, I saw the same. On a good night it would struggle to hold 25 people but here we could experience what happens when the locals really go all out and try to make good beer. It was beautiful, I felt like a grandparent watching the next generation, but it didn’t have the game. We couldn’t stay here all night.
Instead we found some nameless place off a side street serving Fosters. The quality of beverage was irrelevant as in front of Sam and I sat a few dozen Real fans with their eyes affixed to the screen. At half-time the situation looked promising. Los Blancos led 1-0 and had the advantage on away goals. The stage was set for a grand celebration. Bro hugs and vicarious joy would be plentiful. Just so long as…
Oh yeah, Juventus scored and the bar fell silent. The worst case scenario had come true. An Italian side was given the opportunity to defend to the death. Like an old slugger, it didn’t have much punch but it wasn’t letting anything through until the final bell rang.
All the while I was in touch with home. With my old flatmate, a longtime Juve fan, with a buddy who just watched for the craic, and friends for whom football holds no meaning. It was hot as hell in Madrid today, clocking in at 36 degrees. A fat pasty man like me isn’t built for this and it was still punching past 30 while the game was on but the heat wasn’t an issue then, at least not as much as it is now while I crave the bed beside me.
Back home they were watching in wonder at how Real were throwing this away. Like water against rocks every attack broke down until that final whistle sounded.
Then, the freaking power cut. Nothing is charging. I’m here, writing a drunk column, and no lights or anything is working in this house. For the love of divine…anyhoo.
It was the way home that hit me. I had just got some fantastic news from home. Breaks were going my way but I saw all of these white jersey clad people somber. As I got off the train one young lad, in his early 20s, sat playing with his phone with a face that said the world had ended.
Yet tomorrow, or today really, at 9am a new hope will emerge. The glittering Real U18 line-up will hit the floor in the Adidas NGT. That evening, the players of Real’s Euroleague squad will tell us of their cautious optimism ahead of playing Fenerbahce. This weekend in Palacio des Deportes aka the Barclaycard Centre, the Novena is on. The pain of Wednesday has a chance to be washed away but now that pressure is great. A victory tonight and whatever Real Madrid Balconesto did would be a bonus. Now, this is the one chance the fans in this city see to dream of a European title being paraded through their city late at night. A cause beyond their control has added an extra burden to the men of RMB. It will be fascinating to see it play out.
And just like that, the power came back.