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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Funchal Game Plan by John von Daler


                At our place we love garlic. Fresh, cooked, lots of it, just a touch of it, any old way. So we are very tolerant when we meet garlic breath.

                But when I invited my wife to go to a football game in #Funchal, I had not counted on her sitting in front of a very large old man with a red face, a black moustache and both garlic and wine breath. He was a great fan of the local team, Maritimo.
                So every time #Maritimo got the ball, my wife got blown out of her seat by his shouting, his breath and his great, heavy body heaving around in the all too small seat behind us.
                We were windblown anyway. The football stadium in Funchal, like so many other places in Madeira, is situated on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I write "overlooking" with a slight feeling of inaccuracy, because the evening we went to the game the sky was pitch black, but the wind blew in from the invisible ocean to let us know that it was there.
                So there we were being blown at from two sides, thinking these Madeirans have their ways of winning the day: opposing teams and tourists land on an airstrip that sometimes is too small for the landing, so the pilot has to gun his engines and take off again. (Our pilot used three passes to get down.) If you are a football team on the way to play in Funchal, it makes you wonder whether God is on your side.
                When you finally get to the stadium you discover that they have a sneaky way of rolling down the playing field. I noticed at half time that they drove a roller across that half of the field where Maritimo could score goals. The other half they left clotted and uneven to make things more difficult for the visiting team. And then they drowned us in garlic and wine breath.
                Since that evening I have been a very constant fan of the Maritimo football team. Maybe because they seemed dead set to win and certainly had their own useful methods of doing just that. Go Maritimo!

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