Why did it ‘rain’ so much in Las Gaunas? Who was Amadeo, the one from Atocha? What did they do to Madrid and Bara? What happened in a band from El Planto? How did you dribble the ball in Alicante? When the grass was not measured in millimeters some fields were samples of quicksand and others were a catalog of drylands. The football of decades ago was disputed outside the law of gardens. This is how several protagonists of those times, foreign to the after sun and other phenomena, remember him.
A mythical soccer setting was Atocha, the fortn de la Real, where Jesús Mari Zamora, the legend who gave his team a league title with his goal at El Molinn, recalls that in that football “everyone set up the field as they wanted, as it suited them. Here, in the north, it rained more, but when I played we already wanted it to the field was fine, no mud. What suited us was a bit of ‘shaking’, that the ball didn’t stop. We had technical players. And other rivals liked their dry field. There weren’t these stories for everyone the same.”
15 days before Madrid and Bara visited us, we had to destroy Las Gaunas, the coach ordered us to train every day in the stadium
Manu Sarabia spent his entire career in the north (Barakaldo, Athletic and Achievements) and he estimates that now “when I hear some comment about a taller or irregular lawn, I compare it with the muddy areas of before. At Barakaldo all the matches were in mud. Now it is a joy. It seems wonderful to me to always play on good courses, but suspending a game for two puddles is too much. Footballers have always been privileged and now more.”
Ral Ruiz, after a long career, with forays into Numancia and Logros, among others, works as a communicator at Movistar. He recalls that all this recent seems “exaggerated. If you are within the law, they do not have to tell you anything. Before there was no unification. And now The sun thing sounds like a joke to me, that was already for a note, but the teams train in the morning. Quique Sánchez Flores was within the law. Today you can not complain about anything. This seems a bit ridiculous to me, if the fields are pristine. It’s as if I had complained that the Bernabu or the Camp Nou were fast”.
Las Gaunas, puddles against Madrid and Bara
With an endless career, Miguel Ángel Lotina was a player and coach at the Achievements who operated in the mythical Las Gaunas, one of the shelters associated with mud. He explains that “as a player in the Achievements we did not have a Sports City, there were only two dirt fields and when it rained there you could not train. So we trained in Las Gaunas, it was almost by obligation and the field noticed it”.
The sun thing seemed noteworthy to me, a bit ridiculous; As a footballer I became an expert in mud, but the cold in Soria clogged me and in Lugo, in the Anxo Carro, our rivals drowned us
A classic of our football, Jabo Irureta, estimates that in his time as a player “there were very hard fields, I mean because of the conditions and also the game was harder, I limp a little by the ankle. The fields are better now. In the north the ball bounced and went fast. In the south the boat was higher. Each one tries to get something out of the field.”
Sarabia explains that today’s footballer “gets used to playing on exceptional pitch, where there are no jumps, where the speed of the ball goes as you want and when you come across slightly higher ground you notice it”. Ral Ruiz understands this, but believes that the complaint “should be made internally, not in public, because it may sound like an excuse.”
Lotina explains a tactic she witnessed against the greats: “Two weeks before Real Madrid and Barcelona visited us, our coach, Txutxi Aranguren, ordered that he train every day in Las Gaunas. Thus the turf was torn up to receive them at Logroo. We did everything there, even the physical exercises, the rondos… Then we lost and I wanted the field to be good for other games, but of course, it was already touched…”.
In that charismatic stadium Lotina remembers that “The same person took care of the clothes, the wardrobe and the field. And there was only one hose. There were no sprinklers.” Ral Ruiz recalls that the person in charge was “Trejo, now deceased. He had to prepare everything for almost two hours to pour water and one day the referee, who was Díaz Vega, forbade him to water”. That adventure was recorded by the Canal Plus cameras.
Ral Ruiz confirms that before playing against Madrid “Las Gaunas was flooded. It seemed that there was always a cloud in Logroo. And then we lost 0-3.”
To drive away prejudices Lotina remembers that the grass in Las Gaunas “was good and there was also a natural well, but the problem was that you trained a lot. All winter you played in mud. I, who was not a technical marvel, knew how to take advantage of it. He was smart and knew that a transfer from a defender was not going to reach the goalkeeper and he was going to be stopped in the puddle. I knew where the puddles were. More than one I did like this. She played very comfortable in Las Gaunas “.
The climate of San Mams
Zamora estimates that “Footballers today are complainers. That if there is water, that if too dry, but if they are carpets compared to the fields of a few years ago. What century are we in?”
At San Mams we liked to play with chirimiri and a soft field; What is now is wonderful compared to before, but suspending for two puddles is exaggerated
Under these conditions, Zamora recounts that the remedy was “to adapt to everything. Outside there were good fields, San Mams, Zaragoza, Gijn, Madrid, Barcelona, but there were others like the Rico Pérez in Alicante that was like a stone floor. The ball was bouncing, go up and when it came down you had already been kicked four times before you could control it. I couldn’t play there, it was very hard. I don’t think I ever won in Alicante”.
Sarabia admits that with the mud “a special ability is developed, due to the way of carrying the ball and hittingThat forced you to adapt. Now it will not even be played in fields like those. In Barakaldo more than once the ball got stuck in the mud and two players from each team kicked it to see who could get it out”.
About San Mams, he contributes that “We liked to play with chirimiri and the soft field. We were used to that. If he feinted the defense it cost him more. Then you went south and you found fields that looked like cement. The boat never ended.”
Irureta remembers that “as a player I liked it without much water, even if it was in San Mams, but the strongest players on the team preferred more water. For midfielders like me it was better that there were no puddles, the ball was better handled. The competition was like a back and forth. The southern fields were dry, like Granada and Seville, but they suffered up (in the north)”.
The band of El Planto and the wind of Cádiz
In that chair of experience, Ral Ruiz controlled that in Burgos “in El Planto, the band near the river was always half frozen. At halftime you changed your tacos. In Cdiz, Pepe Mejas I controlled how the air flowed to know how to hit the ball and that it would go one way or the other”.
That terrain determined the style of play. Lotina remarks that back then “you didn’t play from behind. The ball was given to the goalkeeper so he could shoot long. The game now in those fields will be impossible. Defenders who kicked out long were valued.”
Sarabia certifies that in Las Gaunas “There was an area that never had grass and a goal in which there were always puddles nearby. Lotina knew that and took advantage of it.
The weather map varied when changing territory. Lotina remembers “on September 5, when we played with Logros in Albacete. It was tremendous, everything dry and with sun, it seemed another country. There were no shadows in the stands. It suffers”.
It was curious, continues Lotina, what happened “In a Cup tie in December, with us in the Second Division, the Messenger, from 2B, arrived. We won there 0-1 and in Las Gaunas, on the return leg, it started to snow. They had never seen snow Well, they got 0-2. In the end we tied”. Now Lotina appreciates that “you no longer see muddy fields. It is measured to the millimeter and there is very good drainage. In Japan, a game is stopped because when it rains it often pours out”.
The footballers of today are very complainers; In Atocha the rivals suffered, but we went to Alicante and the ball bounced so much that when it went down they had already kicked you four times before controlling it
The adaptation was made in extreme conditions: “We trained one day or another in Atocha, but being a professional they entered gravel fields, in a school, in a park… Those of now complain about everything,” says Zamora.
The legend of Amadeo Labarta
When talking about Atocha, one must stop at the figure of Amadeo Labarta (1905-1989). A member of the first lineup in the history of the Royal Society, he lost an eye in the Civil War. In the 1950s, La Real gave him shelter in Atocha as a caretaker, landowner, gardener or butler, as he was once called Di Stefano in an interview in El Diario Vasco, in which he recalled that Amadeo, who was also known by some as ‘El tuerto’, he was in charge of flooding the center of the field and the wings to leave the madridistas “stranded”.
Zamora extols the figure of that realistic legend of the administration that caused surprising climatic changes: “The most veteran compañeros told us stories. One day it was sunny here, the rivals saw the Atocha grass before the game and found it dry. It was time for the game an hour and a half later and the grass was puddled. That brought their spirits down. That used to happen.” Amadeo’s things.
In San Mams there were also ghostly clouds. Sarabia remembers the strangeness of Madrid on a visit: “They arrived at San Mamás on a sunny day, but there were gigantic sprinklers that did their job. Not a drop of rain had fallen in the city and they were left wondering what happened here?
ral ruiz covers the geography of his soccer adventures in a broad curriculum: “In Lugo (-another of his teams-) the Anxo Carro was always flooded and with tremendous humidity. The opponents drowned. A companion, Carolo, had lost all his body hair, like Dertycia, and one day we had to take him out of the field with blankets. because it was freezing.”
Each one tries to pluck something from the field. As a player I liked that there was not much water, even if it was San Mams, because a midfielder handles the ball better
It wasn’t the only fridge because “In Soria it was tremendous, I got stuck with the cold and the snow, it’s just that I didn’t feel like playing. In old Los Pajaritos it was lazy. In the famous Cup tie against Bara, to be cooler than anyone else, we warmed up in short sleeves so they could see us, wearing gloves, tights, everything. It was a psychological war to make them think, fuck these.”
Zamora points out that “previous generations, in the 60s and so on, they did tell us that the rivals suffered a lot in Atocha. It must be terrible for them. Then in the south they were drier.”
for the mud, Ral Ruiz remembers a commandment: “Forbidden to give a back pass. I became almost an expert. Despite what one may think, a short one like me moves better in those areas. And to play the ball was raised and forward, like beach-football. Courses like Las Gaunas had charm”. When the spell could not be measured in millimeters.