Wednesday 25th July 2018 21.00
Muleño CF 0 Real Murcia 3 HT: 0-2 Att: c800
from Estadio de Municipal de Mula
Muleño CF play in one of Spain’s regional fourth divisions. There are 18 of them and Muleño play in Group 13, which is the Murcia region. Their opponents were Real Murcia, a once successful top flight club who now find themselves in Group Four of the four Segundo B step three divisions.
Muleno CF were founded in 1986 and play in the small town of Mula, about 20 miles West of the city of Murcia, the seventh largest in Spain.
I only found this friendly (known locally as Partido Amistosos) the day before. The problem with PSFs in Spain is that, especially with the larger clubs, they often play in neutral venues. I had planned to go to the Pinatar Arena, which as far as I know isn’t actually any club’s stadium. The main pitch does have two large stands, but I noticed on twitter that the game I was going to watch was being played on ‘pitch 2’. I couldn’t risk pitch 2 being a stand-free satellite pitch, so I changed plan to watch UCAM Murcia, who play at Estadio El Mayayo in a suburb of Murcia called Sangonera la Verde.
However, being a bit paranoid by now, I google mapped the ground and noticed that next to the main ground was a naked artificial pitch. I tweeted the club to ask if their friendly was on the main pitch (cesped – which is grass apparently in Spanish. Amazing how much football related spanish vocabulary I now have). Their reply was seguramente artificial, which loosely translates as probably the artificial pitch.
This was getting quite irritating now. These Spanish clubs have no thought for groundhoppers at all (sarcasm). This was when Muleno CF came to the rescue thanks to following Real Murcia on twitter and looking up the town of Mula and discovering it a mere 53 miles from where we were on holiday. Google maps showed no other pitches than their main ground.
The kick off was my record latest – at 21.00. The seering hit of the day had subsided into bath-like warmth as we entered the typical Spanish small town; sun baked red earth, scrubland, low buildings and a throng of supporters and activity buzzing around the Real Murcia team coach, next to the ground on the west edge of the town.
The Estadio de Mula, aka Camino Curtis, had a grand entrance for a small ground, with two turrets bookending a multi-columned entrance. The inside, not visible from the outside, revealed itself to be a frayed, unkempt beauty. A nine-step main stand lay opposite, typically unroofed, as roofs are not needed in this climate. Chunky terracing, but used for sitting, a back wall of peeling lettering and scoreboard.
At the near end a a four step terrace, again for seating, was overlooked by a gallery area of standing. Down the long side was more four or five step chunky terracing with a small number of covered seats in the middle.
An unexpectedly large crown turned out, mostly from Real Murcia, to make for a great atmosphere. A can of Estrella and a pack of crisps on a sultry t-shirt and shorts evening, football doesn’t get much better.
Real Murcia showed their big club credentials as they outplayed Muleno CF. The hosts rarely saw the opposing half as Murcia scored first a free kick that hit the bar and bounced in off the keeper, then a close range header from a superb move. A third in the second half wrapped up a comfortable win for the visitors and few hundred happy away fans. Great lower league Spanish fare.