It once seemed like a distant dream, but now it looks as though instead of lining up against Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal, the petulant one will be facing the likes of Tenerife. At least he should be guaranteed better weather when he visits. Whether he’ll get a warm welcome from CD Tenerife’s foreign contingent of fans is a different matter.
Yesterday in the 30 plus degrees and no shade of Plaza España in Santa Cruz, we joined tens of thousands of CD Tenerife supporters to watch the blanquiazul achieve the not so impossible dream.
It was an electric and hectic atmosphere and actually trying to watch the giant TV screens involved utilising a series of movements that, had there been a ringmaster in the area he’d have immediately signed us up for his circus as a contortionist double bill.
As always here the crowd was a deliriously happy one and the most innocuous incident on the pitch (broadcast from Girona) had the fans going off like a rocket. A ‘non’ goal caused wild celebrations and bottles of cava and beer were sprayed across the plaza. In theory it should have been great material for photos; in reality I could hardly keep my camera out long enough to focus it in case it was drenched.
When CD Tenerife scored and more or less clinched their place in La Liga, the plaza erupted into madness. We’d already moved once for a better view and away from a group of lads who were using their cans of beer like machine guns, but talk about moving from the frying pan and into the fire.
Our spot beside Plaza España’s lagoon sized fountain seemed a perfect spot. We could see the screens and also were in the perfect position for photographing ‘aficionados’ celebrating in the pool. Naïve or stupid? When the final whistle blew there was a stampede and twenty thousand or so ecstatic fans swept toward the fountain…and us.
Andy wisely did a runner and deserted me, leaving me stranded at the fountain’s edge trying to take a few shots before things went too wet ‘n’ wild. I was bumped and jostled from all angles; one group of burly lads nearly took me with them straight into the water. Every time I thought I’d found a relatively safe spot a manically grinning fan would come rushing through the fountain kicking water everywhere and I’d have to spin around trying to save my camera from an unwanted bath. It was loco. In the end I snapped a few shots before my nerve broke (rather it than the camera) and I legged it to the higher ground.
I thought I’d witnessed wild crowds in Tenerife before, during Carnaval, but this, like CD Tenerife now, was in another league. And despite there being thousands upon thousands of people soaking each other, I didn’t witness the slightest bit of aggression…only unadulterated joy.
Yesterday history was made in Tenerife and I’m really pleased that I was there to feel a part of it.