Tuesday, 20 September 2016

#34 Nou Camp d'Inca, CE Constància

CE Constància 0 SD Formentera 3
Sunday 18th September 2016, Tercera Division Group 11

An abnormally overcast day on the beautiful Spanish island of Mallorca allowed me to persuade my family to take an afternoon out from our normal holiday activities and indulge me with some local forth division fare.

Club Deportivo Constancia are based in the central Mallorcan town of Inca. Formed in 1922 they have spent most of their existence in the Spanish regional leagues but were last in the Segunda División B for two seasons between 2012 and 2014. Their ground Nou Camp d'Inca looked like the best Tercera Division Group 11 ground within a sensible drive from our apartment and the best choice of local football available to us as RC Mallorca's late kick-off that day wouldn't leave us enough time to get our flight. Their opponents for the afternoon were SD Formentera from the Pityusic Islands. Rather impressively, Formentera have been involved in four successive play-offs since gaining promotion from the fifth-tier in 2012, including as league champions in 2014/15.

The Spanish fourth division is quite a staggering thing. Consisting of 18 regional leagues of 20 teams running parallel to one another. The play-offs look particularly harrowing, as the 72 teams that finish in 1st to 4th position in their respective leagues duke it out for 9 promotion places. 

There were scarce signs of activity as Dad and I arrived at the ground 15 minutes before kick-off and indeed no one collecting entry fees at what looked like the main gates. Happily Dad was able to pull his usual technique of accosting a local and speaking simple English phrases to them in a dodgy Spanish accent. The poor unsuspecting gentleman was at last able to see us on our way when Dad added the miming of a football being kicked to the exchange. He pointed us up a road and said 300 metres.

Unfortunately as I would later be told by another friendly local, the grand old traditional stadium wouldn't be played on by the team until November and we would be watching the match on the largest of three training pitches. This was quite understandable, as the grass on the old pitch was sparse to say the least. Thank you to Chris Clements for this information: it seems that the council has given the club €60k to relay the parched surface.

Here's what you could've won

As for the training ground, there's not much to say. There are two stands either side of the AstroTurf pitch, one that stretches along two thirds of the side opposite where we entered and another one half as long that stands closer to the end farthest from the entrance and is about half as long. This second stand has steps on both sides, so that it overlooks both the main training pitch and the three quarter sized pitch next to it. Both stands feature that kind of super wide terracing that can be comfortably used for sitting or standing, though everyone in attendance this afternoon chose the later. The main stadium could be seen through a fence and is separated from the larger stand by a train track, upon which a train would pass by every 30 minutes or so. Just like being at The Creek!

It became my turn to make an arse out of myself when after being greeted by the fast-talking Spanish ticket seller at the gate I was reduced to nervously yelping "English! Sorry!" and holding two fingers up. The entrance fee was €10 each which was a little more than I was expecting and left me with the uncomfortable feeling that the guy saw an opportunity to make some money out of a dumb tourist (I certainly would of if I were him) but a poster I clocked in the refreshment cabin informed me that €10 was indeed the general admittance. We procured "doos surveysors per fervour" and Dad pointed at some pork and pea pies and asked the lady "Como estas?" thinking that meant "what are these?" when it actually means "how are you?" Honestly Europe is probably better off without us.

I wasn't sure how professional this level of Spanish football would be before the game but I got a good idea just before kick-off when a home player came and handed his mobile phone to his Mum in the stands. Bless.

It only took the away side 25 minutes to get the game started when Constancia's keeper failed to get a hand to a corner which fell to an unmarked Formentera head for an easy opener. There was no chanting as such from the home support but there was a seemingly spontaneous display of slow rhythmic clapping around this point. This somewhat eerie display of devotion did not stop Formentera nearly adding a second 5 minutes later. A striker for the blues got himself in a wonderful central position but failed to steady himself and shot well over.

Constancia pull off one or two testing shots in the first half themselves but the gulf in quality is showing. Every first touch from a Formentera player is silky and their midfielders spread the ball around with confidence whilst Constancia, despite a certain amount of fighting spirit, lack creativity and quality up front. 

This being Spain, the game was stopped fairly frequently for soft fouls. One particularly continental display of handbags occurred when Formentera's number 11 was booked for holding his opponent back around the waist but refused to go to or even look at the referee. This led the snubbed official no other option but to wave the yellow card vaguely over in the players direction from half a pitch away.

Ten minutes into the second half Formentera net their second as a low cross is unspectacularly bundled in. At this point the Constancia ultras bring out their drum which is plaintively beaten throughout the remainder. A doff of the PB cap goes to the drummer himself who looked to have a sprained wrist.

Something that I wish could be taken up in English non-league was the way Constancia announced the winner of their raffle. Rather than getting an old man to read out the winning number over a knackered tannoy, the lady from the beer hut was sent around the stands holding a chalkboard with the number written on in a display reminiscent of Ready 2 Rumble Boxing on the Sega Dreamcast.

Formentera look a pro team, Constancia don't. Physicality and height wise the away team have the better of their hosts. Constancia's best players are a floppy-haired attacking mid whose energetic charges were squandered by the lacklustre forwards. A very young looking right back was also noteworthy, getting forward and passing well in the Leadbitter mould but less hesitant.

I was very surprised late in the second half when Redfoo from the band LMFAO came on for Formentera. I guess he has to take work wherever he can get it these days.

(Missed) Shots, shots, sho-sho-sho-shots!

Despite being a tad whistle-happy I felt the referee had been having a good game until 3 (three) handballs in a row went unnoticed in front of me. Constancia also had two penalty shouts during the match. The first I didn't think was anything but the second was a bit harder to call. An Inca man did incredibly well to control a ball that went behind him and beat off several men (stop sniggering at the back) but the effort made him unbalanced. A medium-strength bodycheck took him to the ground inside the box but I honestly believe he was on his way down anyway. Since being firmly behind the home team since entering the ground, Dad was furious.

Constancia heads were firmly in the downward position during injury time, which allowed a pass from midfield to a loose winger who broke through unchallenged for the easiest one-on-one you'll ever see and that was curtains for Constancia.

Desperate to get a closer look at the stadium I'd come to see, I dragged Dad to the end of the car park where sure enough there was an underpass which lead under the train tracks and into Nou Camp d'Inca proper.
Although ravaged by time this is a fine example of a truly old-fashioned football stadium.

A massive stone bowl featuring an imposing 20-tier terrace at each end with wider terraces on both sides with 650 or so bolted-on seats under a cantilever roof on one side. Because this post is already far too long, I'm going to leave you with some pictures so you can see the place for yourself.

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