The Spain Buddy Spanish football series resumes with a look at RCD Espanyol, as Matthew Hirtes continues his journey around the Primera Liga clubs.
RCD Espanyol…in 90 seconds
Barcelona’s RCD (Reial Club Deportiu) Espanyol have commitment issues, it seems. They’re already onto their eight ground in RCDE Stadium which they moved to in 2009. Following the British template of constructing new stadia in out-of-town erstwhile industrial wastelands, there were fan-led concerns about relocating the club to the north west of the Catalan capital further away from its roots in the south west of the city. But its award-winning innovative design has proved a triumph, elevating it above the UK’s largely identikit developments. Travelling to the RCDE from Barcelona’s El Prat airport by car will take you just a shade over 10 minutes.
August 8 2009 saw the premature birth of a legend with the sad passing of club captain and fixture in the heart of the Espanyol defence Daniel Jarque, who died of a heart attack on an Italian training camp aged 26 years young. The following year, Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta tore off his Spain top after scoring the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup to reveal a t-shirt emblazoned with the words: “Dani Jarque, siempre con nostotros.” If you enter the RCDE Stadium by Gate 21, you’ll find the club have dedicated this entrance to their former skipper.
Another celebrated central defender to wear the blue and white stripes of Espanyol was José Parra Martínez (1925-2016). He was comfortable bringing the ball out of the defence a la Beckenbaeur. Parra Martínez arrived to the Catalan club in 1947 and three years later was representing Spain at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil.
Thomas “Tommy” N’Kono kept goal for Espanyol from 1982-91. It was his performances at Italia ’90 for Cameroon, however, which inspired current Azurri number 1 Gianluigi Buffon to pull on a pair of goalkeepers’ gloves for the first time. Buffon paid tribute to the Espanyol crack by christening his first born Louis Thomas.
Espanyol Form Guide
Considering they share metropolitan space with mighty Barça, Espanyol have had to find contentment in playing second fiddle in the Catalan city. Nevertheless, they’ve won the Copa del Rey four times; most recently in 2006. They’ve also finished as UEFA Cup runners up twice, both times losing on penalties against Bayer Leverkusen in 1988 and Sevilla in 2007.
Club Shop Essential Purchase
Blow your own trumpet by purchasing a Budgie football one for a knockdown 3,50€.
The very definition of a dive bar, central Omaha in Carrer Septimania is a popular watering hole for RCD Espanyol supporters. A fair trek from the stadium, it’s a good place to start a bar crawl towards the ground or indeed end one from.
The capacity at the RCDE is 40,500. However, in Espanyol’s recent lean years, attendances have averaged out at half that figure. The record crowd for the club at this ground remainds the 40,240 who watched Espanyol take on Real Madrid back on 13th February 2011.
Celebrated Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague was raised in an Espanyol-supporting household and resisted the peer pressure to avoid becoming a FC Barcelona supporter. Current Tottenham boss Mauricio, himself a former Espanyol player and manager, is also a RCD fan. When asked about the speculation linking him to replacing Luis Enrique as Barça coach, he replied that it was impossible because he was “born with a bull in his arm” which many took to be an affirmation of his continuing loyalty to Espanyol.
Damage to Your Wallet
Buy tickets online from the club in advance of the games to avoid missing out on match day, especially against the bigger boys. Whilst entrance is priced as low as €25 for the likes of Real Betis, this is hiked up to a minimum of 90€ for such visitors as local rivals, Barça.
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.