BLOG | Sun, sea and SWFC

BLOG | Sun, sea and SWFC

For most football fans across the country, watching a game in your local can be just as enthralling as going to the game itself.

Personally, I love the match day experience, soaking up the atmosphere along with thousands of others. There’s no better feeling than celebrating a goal and grabbing your mate and screaming in their face!

So how does watching a game on TV compare?

Can your local generate the same buzz? Do you ever get that electric atmosphere with tension in the air?

Currently on holiday in the Costa del Sol, me and my brother-in-law (a fellow Wednesdayite) trawled the Internet for a place to watch the first Wednesday game of the season… and that’s when we stumbled across the ‘Yorkshire Lad’.

With a name like that, there was no doubt in our minds that this was the place to be in Fuengy G (or Fuengirola as it’s more commonly known).

And the best thing about this fine establishment… It’s run by a fellow member of the Wednesday family.

Location confirmed

Location confirmed

We planned to arrive around 30 minutes before kick off to make sure we got a good view of the game on the box.

Whenever I’m watching a game in my local, I’ll get there early to have the full experience of the game.

I don’t know if you’re anything like me but if I don’t have a good seat it does, and has, ruined the game experience for me.

As we entered the Yorkshire Lad, I was surprised to find we were the first here. Already I was happy as I had my pick of the seats, perching ourselves on a couple of stools at the end of the bar.

Some of my best experiences of watching a game on TV were when I’ve been sat in the company of complete strangers, crammed into a pub like a tin of sardines.

It’s just like match days, you take your seat in the crowd, and whether you’re with your mates or surrounded by strangers, it doesn’t matter because you all share a love and passion for one team.

"This seat here. Yeah, right next to the bar"

“This seat here. Yeah, right next to the bar”

Straight away you feel comfortable in their presence and are only too happy to share their company.

So being the first to arrive at the Yorkshire Lad, I did wonder… Is anyone going to join us?

Sitting at the bar, I looked up and down at the copious amount of lagers on tap.

In Spain I’ve been favouring Amstel but I’m always on the lookout for a new one to try.

Out from the back came a tall bloke, quite well built, with a white shirt unbuttoned at the top.

“Alright lads!? What can I get ya?”, a friendly, broad Yorkshire accent asked us.

This was Gary, the owner of the Yorkshire Lad who would be our host for the next few hours. We got our drinks in and took the opportunity to have a once over of the bar.

The place was awash with football scarves hung from the ceiling. Bright colours of football teams from all over the UK were on display, with the odd European team like Ajax, PSG and of course Real Madrid cropping up.

On the far wall were the pendants of various football teams that captains exchange before kick-off. People say that football is like a religion, and these scarves and pendants seemed like a token of respect to all its followers.

Surprisingly there was a lack of Wednesday memorabilia which gave me a twinge of disappointment. I’d imagined the bar to be a shrine of blue and white; with pictures, photos, shirts from seasons gone by adorning every inch of wall space.

Some of the memorabilia on display

Some of the memorabilia on display

I suppose that was selfish of me to think like this. Back home there may be certain pubs for home supporters only, but out here, it’s more about welcoming all football supporters and giving them the opportunity to never miss a game, even when on holiday.

Gary may love his team, but the way he decorated the place told me he just wanted to share his love of the game.

The match was nearly upon us and we were no longer the only people propping up the bar. A few of them come over for a chat with Gary, obviously regulars and perhaps even fellow Wednesday fans?

I wondered how often Gary comes across Wednesday fans in the Yorkshire Lad?

“We have a lot of fans here. There are a few locals that are Wednesday fans and pop in for the games. A lot of the fans are normally out here on holiday with their families. We’re always full up when Wednesday are on TV.”

I’m surprised to hear that Wednesday have such a big following out here, but Gary continues, “I’ve lived in Fuengirola for nearly 20 years.

Lopez: drew in the locals to Gary's during last season

Lopez: drew in the locals to Gary’s during last season

We have a strong following, maybe not as big as your Man Utds or Arsenals, but there’s not a sports bar I’ve been in where there isn’t a Wednesday shirt, a scarf somewhere or a Wednesday fan watching a game.”

And it’s not just the English fans that come to cheer on the blue and white wizards.

“We even get the odd Spanish person in asking if Wednesday are on! After Alex Lopez came on loan last season, I had a Celta Vigo fan come in and watch one of the games he was playing in.

It was crazy! I hope there’d be other Spanish folk who would follow us too.”

Are there many Spanish Wednesday fans around? When we took Lopez there may have been a small contingent of Celta fans that followed his progress in blue and white. Who knows?

Quite frankly, I think it’s great for the club that we are followed across the world by lovers of the game.

As more and more people arrived, acknowledging Gary behind the bar, I thought, surely they can’t all be Wednesday? Somehow in a bar along the southern Spanish coastline, we’d found out home away from home.

You could sense everyone was nervous. Of course, it’s the first game of the season, expectations are high and you want to get off to a good start.

During the game it felt like we were at Hillsborough. Every tackle, chance and exchange of play was greeted with applause and cheers of, “COME ON WEDNESDAY!” There was a moment I said to my Brother-in-law, “We’re all Wednesday aren’t we?” which was overheard and greeted with cheers.

There was a real feeling of excitement peppered with nervousness.

The experience was more than I expected. Emotions were up and down, with some of the fans getting visibly edgy as the game wore on. Football does that to you, but it’s ok to feel nervous because there are others around you going through exactly the same feelings as you.

When someone shouts at the TV, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” you can’t help but think, is that how we’re all feeling about our team right now? We even had the odd fan shouting profanities at the referee and yes, he may just be yelling at a TV screen but who cares! That’s the whole point.

The best experience is feeling part of the game even when you are thousands of miles away from it.

Nothing can take away the enjoyment of a match, even when you’re watching it on 30 inches of glass, and this is why we love the game.

 

 

As the final whistle blew, I got that same feeling of elation after a win at Hillsborough.

Rather than having 28,000 fans with me, I had 20 around me, but when you’re all sharing that moment, numbers don’t matter. The bar applauded a fantastic performance and got everyone in a positive mood for the hot Spanish evening ahead.

Win, lose or draw. These three outcomes can bring out so many different emotions, some we just can’t handle and we’ll be in a miserable mood for days.

But when it comes to football, these emotions are an integral part of the experience.

Whether you watched it at home, in your local, or at the Yorkshire Lad in Fuengirola, emotionally, we gave our team everything and they gave us a performance to remember.

The Yorkshire Lad was a fitting bar to watch the first game of the season.

The atmosphere was great, and left me with a sense of pride and belonging to a much wider network of Wednesday fans than I previously thought.

The experience in the Yorkshire Lad was a tribute to Sheffield Wednesday and its fans, where a small group of us in Spain watched the season commence and we fell in love with our team all over again.

Jonny
Owls Alive
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TWITTER: @OwlsAlive and @jmarps


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