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Us donem la benvinguda a La Veu Groga, un blog que vol acostar l'actualitat del submarí groguet amb un tret característic propi: el blog és exclusivament en valencià. A hores d'ara, hi ha pocs mitjans escrits que informen sobre el nostre equip en la nostra llengua, i pensem que és necessari que hi haja més presència del valencià en tot allò que envolta el Vila-real CF.

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ENDAVANT VILA-REAL!

dissabte, 26 d’octubre de 2013

Vila-real v Valencia: The Valencian Derby


I know this weekend everybody will be watching "El Clásico" (by the way, it's fun, because it's only in recent years that I've heard/read so much people refer to the Barça v Madrid match like that if I'm not wrong, or perhaps they already did in the past, but as I'm not a fan of any of these two teams... Well, couldn't care less anyway) and in Spanish league only this match will be played this weekend, the rest will be like if they didn't exist. But we, Vila-real, also play our 'derby' match tomorrow: at 5pm (local time) at El Madrigal, Vila-real v Valencia.

Vila-real v Valencia is now considered as some kind of derby but, to be honest, the rivalry is quite light if you compare it to that between Barça and Madrid, Sevilla and Betis, Madrid and Atlético, or Celtic and the old Rangers, just to put some well-known examples.

You could say it has only become a derby match in recent years. As you know, Vila-real promoted to 1st division for the first time only in 1998, and before that both teams had played each other in the Cup some times, but with Valencia being a 1st division team and Vila-real being a 2ndB or 2nd division team which had never played in 1st until that moment, there was very few rivalry if any. In these times, when we faced them in Cup some time, as I can understand from what I’ve heard/read from older Vila-real fans (as I was very young or even not born yet), they wanted to beat Valencia for the simple reason of it being a big match and for beating a bigger team which, in addition, is from somewhere very close to you, but as I say, there was no real 'rivalry' as such.

When we first promoted to 1st division, some Valencia fans already disliked us but, let’s say, more because of 'geographical' reasons –Vila-real is in Valencian Country (or “community”, as the ‘official’ name says, which could be translated as ‘region’, but well, I don’t want to mix ‘political’ stuff here) 60km at the north of Valencia City, but not in Valencia Province (Valencian ‘Region’ has three provinces: Castelló, València and Alacant, and Vila-real lies in the first)
than for the football itself, while some others insisted on not having anything against us and even had that "Oh look, that team from that small town near us have promoted to 1st division, how nice, how fun" attitude towards us, mostly because they thought we would only be in 1st division for one season and that would be it -probably most Vila-real fans thought it too, since seeing our team in 1st division playing against those big teams was quite unbelievable for everybody in the town-. And at first they were right, since Vila-real were relegated back to 2nd division in our début season in 1st, but only one year later we would promote back.

After three “normal” seasons for us, with avoiding relegation as our only goal and, in fact, often achieving it in the very last matches of the season, with Valencia having their best years in the last time –winning Spanish league twice and UEFA CUP once
and with Valencian media trying to make of the matches between Valencia and us something they called ‘the friendship derby’, just because they wanted, both teams seemed quite far from each other in terms of importance and achievements. But that “friendship derby” stuff was nonsense. OK, maybe there wasn’t a big rivalry, but, in my opinion, no friendship at all either.
Valencia beat us 1-0 in that UEFA Cup semi-final,
but something was changing.
Photo: deportevalenciano.com
In 2003/2004 season, things started to change even more. Despite finishing only a few places above relegation zone in the previous season, we got a place for that Intertoto Cup that was played in summer and where you could get a UEFA Cup place if you won it. Well, we did, and very surprisingly for everybody, including ourselves, we reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup after beating some big European teams like Galatasaray, Roma and Celtic. And yes, in the semi-finals we met them. After two rather close matches, they eventually got to the final thanks to a 1-0 on aggregate, as they beat us 1-0 at Mestalla in the 2nd leg after scoring a rather harsh to say the least penalty. And of course, in those matches, there was everything you can expect of a semi-final where both teams are playing for a lot, with the added circumstance of being two teams who are very close to each other geographically everything but the ‘friendship’ Valencian media were trying to ‘sell’. I’m not saying that there were neither riots, nor fights between fans etc., but clearly a lot of tension and very few signs of friendship, if any. At that moment, you could feel something was changing there: we were not any more that ‘nice wee team’ from a town near Valencia who had surprisingly promoted to 1st division some years before, but a team that, despite being rather inexperienced in 1st division and even more in European competitions, was starting to do things quite well and, most importantly, a team that they could only beat by one goal in a UEFA Cup semi-final.

The season after that, 2004/2005, was not just a start of a change, but a real change. Valencia went from being champions of La Liga and UEFA Cup in 2004 to not even qualifying for UEFA Cup after a disappointing
for them, of course 7th place. On the other hand, thanks to Manuel Pellegrini’s great management in his first season here and having a good team overall but, of course, also some great individuals, such as Forlán and Riquelme, we finished the season in an unbelievable 3rd place, only after Barça and Madrid. Things would probably have been frustrating for Valencia either way of course, going from being Champions to not even UEFA Cup place was not good for them but what really put on their nerves apart from that, was us being 3rd. Valencia had always been the big team in Valencian Country. Probably they still are the biggest, I won’t deny that. It’s also true, though, that they are the big team from the biggest city in Valencian Country, and obviously that helps. They have won several trophies throughout their history and, of course, they will always have these trophies and all the importance, fame and reputation that winning them gives to a club. But they couldn’t stand seeing how after many, many years of being the most important and, in a lot of seasons, the only team from Valencian Country in 1st division, now there wasn’t just another one but also, it finished above them in the table.
In 2007/2008, Vila-real achieved two of their most
famous wins against Valencia: 3-0 in both matches
-home and away-. // Photo: 20minutos.es
And even more when it was us, Vila-real, a team that, until only some years before that, had never been in 1st division yet and who came from a town which is ‘nothing’ compared to their city and all this stuff. And this, of course, erased any remains of ‘friendship’ between the clubs and the fans if, I insist, there were still any, or if there had ever been any. From that moment on, Vila-real v Valencia matches became matches where both team’s fans really wanted to win and where you couldn’t hear many nice comments from one team to the other but more like the opposite, not to mention some attempts of more serious attacks to Vila-real fans by Valencia ultras when travelling away to Mestalla I was there in one of these, where luckily nothing serious happened, but well. I won’t insist much on this as, even though hostile behaviour came from almost all Valencia fans, violent behaviour only came from a few.

Apart from that 2004/2005 season, we also finished above them in the table in two more seasons: in 2007/2008 (we finished 2nd and they had an awful season in league, only finishing 10th) and in the following one, in 2008/2009 (without such a big difference this time: we were 5th and they were 6th).

Still, two seasons ago, it seems like they were very, very happy to take some kind of revenge on us. It was the penultimate game of the season. As you know, we had been having an awful year, but at that moment, if we could get only one point in the two matches left there were, we would have stayed in 1st division. And that penultimate match was away against Valencia. While they were playing almost for nothing, we needed to get that point. Vila-real played, as usual that season, a rather dull match, but it was 0-0 with few seconds to go, a score which would have given us the chance to avoid relegation. Still, Valencia got a free kick in the last minute of the match. And from that free kick, they scored. I don’t blame them. They were playing for nothing, but I don’t blame them. I would have wanted my team to do the same. But you could see they were more than happy to have scored that goal when they were playing for nothing after they celebrated it like if they had won Champions League and all Mestalla sang a song to tell us we were going to 2nd division, both when the referee blew the final whistle and later, in the post-match press conferences, you could still hear the song, and I’m not sure if it was the fans singing it at that moment. Well, we weren’t in 2nd division yet, but we would be after losing, also in the last minutes of the match, our last game of the season, at home against Atlético.


Last Vila-real v Valencia played at El Madrigal ended
in a 2-2 draw. // Photo: lainformacion.com
Now, after only a year in 2nd division, we’re back in 1st. And if we win tomorrow’s match, it will be just three more points. But in my opinion, if a Vila-real fan said he/she didn’t have a special interest in winning this match and, if possible, with a good goal difference, he/she would be lying. And the same for Valencia fans, as they have been showing with quite a lot of comments during the week.

So, if you have read all of this, firstly, thank you for doing it and, secondly, I hope it has helped you to know a bit more about this ‘derby’. You see this isn’t a derby match like many others
it doesn’t have an ‘old’ historical background but the opposite, everything related to it is quite recent - but it doesn’t mean it’s not tense, hostile and, in short, a special match for us.

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