Spanish football: Girona FC
Are you loco for Spanish football? Join the club as leading sportswriter Matthew Hirtes is positively chiflado (go ahead and Google Translate) about fútbol español. His latest guide covers Catalonia’s Girona.
A product of Catalan cafe society, Girona FC were born on 23rd July 1930. As a new club was created to fill the void of the bankrupt Unió Esportiva Girona, in the smoky environs of the Café Norat with an accompanying soundtrack of the click and clack of dominoes and quaffing of vermouth. The current Girona line-up strut their stuff on the turf at the near 14,000-capacity Estadi Montilivi, a 15-minute north-easterly drive from the airport.
The proverbial pair of safe hands, goalkeeper Isaac Becerra, kept 15 clean sheets in Girona’s near promotion to the Spanish top flight in 2015-16. Such rearguard action was rewarded with Becerra awarded the Best Goalkeeper in La Segunda that season. The Badalona-born stopper who joined the Blanquivermell (White and Reds) in June 2012 would however shortly depart to Real Valladolid.
The other side of the millennium saw 17-year-old defender Fèlix Farró i Martí sign with the newly-formed Girona in 1930. 16 years later, he’d worn the red-and-white jersey over 600 times. He rejected the chance to leave early on in his Girona days for Españyol, although later he’d wind down his career at the likes of Palafrugell, Olot, and Bisbalenc.
A modern-day Girona legend, according to the Panini sticker bods at any rate, is defensive midfielder Pere Pons. The mid-20s number 8 adds backbone to the spine of the team. Pons was signed by the club at nine years old and made his first-team debut a decade on in 2012; in a 2-0 cup defeat away to Sporting de Gijón.
Girona FC Form Guide
A near 90-year history has passed with little in the way of trophies apart from the odd lower-league title. However, Girona were denied promotion to La Liga due to conceding a last-minute goal in the final game of the 2014-15 season before securing promotion by finishing runners-up to Levante in 2016-17. Being more or less half-owned by Manchester City, with the other near 50% of club shares in the possession of Pep Guardiola’s brother Pere, has boosted both their bank balance and reputation, and they have already taken some memorable scalps this season including defeating Real Madrid 2-1 at home back in October.
Club Shop Essential Purchase
Purchase a piece of history by buying a preserved patch of the Montlivi pitch Girona played their triumphant 2016-17 on.
You’ll find the Estadi Municipal Montilivi, to give the Girona stadium its full name, close to the university campus in a woody part of town largely bereft of bars and restaurants. The Barri Vell, old town, is home to a genuine Irish bar in the form of McKiernans. Dress smarter than club colours for a meal at Restaurant Siloc, five minutes in a car from Montilivi, whose signature dishes include seafood crepes with prawn velouté.
Girona, with a population of just under 100,000, is not your stereotypical football city. Unlike Barcelona, a shade under 100km away. Yet there’s been less of a commute on weekends to the Camp Nou with the success of Girona, the stadium increasing in capacity from four figures to five to meet the demand.
Damage to Your Wallet
New season tickets for 2017-18 ranged in price from 100€ to 700€. With renewals bringing the cost down to between 50€ and 600€. Which makes individual match-day tickets which go on sale starting at 30€ seem less reasonable than they in fact are.
Matthew Hirtes, our resident broadsheet journalist, moved to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria back in 2004. He's travelled extensively through Spain, covering it for such publications as Telegraph Travel, Metro, and The Independent. The author of Going Local in Gran Canaria: How To Turn a Holiday Destination into a Home, Matthew truly is a resident expert.