Vitoria Guimares v Bolton

Date: Thursday 24th November 2005

Away Daze

Football again, at last, and in anticipation TangoDancer attempts to take the sting out of the Portugese men o'war...

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Standing on the prow of an ocean crossing galleon... (oh, alright then, a Monarch scheduled jet), I put my brass bound telescope to my good eye and view the horizon like a seagoing explorer of old. Trusty cutlass by my side and parrot on shoulder, I eagerly scan the the approaching land mass. Aha me hearties, tis yonder at last, our destination: Portugal, (sort of Spain without the cement works) home of Cristobel Colon (Christopher Columbus to you), "Oh no it isn't," claim the Spaniards, "he's Spanish". "Oh no he isn't" claim the Italians, "he's from Genoa". Anyway, I digress. The west coast of the Iberian Peninsula (that's the bit down the left hand side on a map of Spain) is well known to football fans for several things. Let's see now, there is the Algarve where they shoot golf, its ancient architecture, er, its wines, yes, we've all heard of Madeira and Port of course (ain't we?) it's... er... well, it's mainly a Catholic country, and you'll be very glad to know some old guys from there got quite famous for sailing galleons all over the place and discovering things (that Magellan chap and his mates, pirates really) and... ah yes, of course, Eusebio and Luis Figo. That flashy rubber-legged young twerp down the M63 comes from there too, but that's immaterial. The Whites are Portugal bound for the next stage of the football geography lesson better known as the UEFA Cup. Istanbul, Russia, and now Portugal, with Spain in the offing. A footballer's life is one long hardship of travel and adventure for the Bolton Conquistadors. Guimaraes (say Gwee-ma-rays and it's near enough) is in the northern area of Portugal and has all those ancient and religious bits of the mother country. Since the bulk of fans will get no further than exploring the inside of a coach and charter jet, watch the match and repeat the journey all in one day, it is probably a bit futile to extol the virtues of the fine old historic city. Might be worth mentioning it can still be quite warm during the day, but the nights can get chilly at this time of year. Recommended gear is shirt, shorts, shades and a Wanderers scarf. After several years of learning Spanish I was quite disappointed to find Portugese is entirely different (well, the gypsies on the market understood me) but don't worry, quite a lot of them speak English, French and Spanish. To the club then! "Vamos a ver" ( "Let's go" in Spanish, but near enough). 'Vitoria Guimaraes' was a student-founded club from around the 1920's. They play at the grand sounding Estadio Alfonso D. Henriques (that's 'Alf's Place' in English) in the centre of the city, a re-modelled ground with a capacity of 30,000. Since they have participated in the UEFA 11 times they could be classed as experienced. They finished fifth in last seasons Portugese Liga to get there. (although they seem to be doing an Everton so far this year) In 1998/99 they went out first round after two defeats to Celtic. Guimaraes got into the group stage this time by defeating the Polish side Wisla Krakow 4-0 on aggregate. Our last opponents, Zenit, beat them 2-1, although the story is they were unlucky to lose after doing most of the work. Medieros, their defender was carded twice and sent off. For what it's worth they have played 39 matches in total in UEFA competition. We could beat them by a cricket score, but then again they have home advantage and, well, we might not. Like the Spanish they are a passionate temperemental lot and home support will be vociferous (might be a bit noisy as well). Following a good old Bolton tradition they employ foreigners, and their striker, Marek Sagonowski, a fine old Portugese name, is actually a Pole. What they will make of Big Sam, a couple of English guys and half the United Nations is anybody's guess. Proceed with caution boys in these uncharted waters, but remember who we are... and WIN.

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