Events - Forum Trip (11-05-2008-14-05-2008)


Friday 11th April 2008, signalled the first day of the first ever official Forum Trip as 6 of us met up in A Coruña.

For me, it was only a 2 hour coach ride up to Heathrow from my hometown of Southampton. For Croc, it was a little worse, as he had to travel to Glasgow airport and then fly down to London Heathrow. The worst trip by a distance (quite literally) was Fabian's however; travelling from Umea to Stockholm by train, which took about 10 hours and then flying into London Heathrow.

We all met up at the airport without any major problems. I knew Scott anyway, having met him in Newcastle for the Intertoto victory and then again in Barcelona for the league game at the Nou Camp the previous December. Neither us had met Fabian before but it helped having the thread in the Peña forum where people posted their photo. Despite not wearing any Depor colours, Fabian was instantly recognisable, which was a good thing in such a busy airport.

The flight to Coruña was a little under 2 hours but we were in and out of the terminal very quickly, thanks to some rapid bag handling skills by them. We got the bus from the airport to the City centre and then went straight to the hotel. At the hotel, we got some good news as they had managed to get Fabian his own room. There had been some confusion earlier that week as Fabian realised he didn't have a room, so we were thankful that the Hotel Maycar had managed to sort something out for us.

After a quick refresh we went for a walk and later met up with Miles who had been in Coruña for a few days, having stayed in Spain after watching the away victory at Racing Santander, the previous weekend. The not so fantastic 4 then went to get something to eat, which was when it first occurred to me that being a Vegetarian in Galicia kind of sucked. Fabian's choices were extremely limited, although I have to say, I ate very well.

We then went for a drink or 6, ending up at an Irish Pub, where we all chatted away, enjoying the company and the beers and laughing as Scott did a whole tour of upstairs and downstairs in search of the toilets.

The next morning, the four of us went for a walk along the beach front and then went to the stadium. The squad were training behind closed doors and despite our best efforts of trying to get in, the guy on the gate wouldn't let us pass. We then had a quick look round the DeporTienda before a trip to the Playa Club. I stopped to meet up with Xurxo while the others went on ahead to get the drinks in and shortly afterwards, we were 5.

After a few drinks at the Playa Club, I got a text from Leon to say he had landed and would be in Coruna shortly. Whilst the others departed for the hotel, Xurxo and myself got in his car and headed to the park where we intended to meet Leon. Thankfully, Leon recognised us and came over pretty soon after we got there and then we were 6.

After heading back to the hotel briefly, for Leon to check in and get freshened up, we then headed off for our first game of the weekend and what was really the undercard for the main event... Celta v Real Sociedad.

The oldies headed over to the train station for the 2 hour train journey to Vigo, whilst the youngens travelled down in Xurxo's car. We all met up at Vigo train station and had something to eat and drink before the oldies got in a taxi and headed to Balaidos, whilst Xurxo took the others in his car. After a nervous wait outside Balaidos, Xurxo, Scott and Fabian finally turned up and we all got our tickets and then walked round the stadium to our seats as the rain started to fall heavily.

The game wasn't a great spectacle but it wasn't too bad and we got to see Celta go a goal down. Celta later equalised and I was a little surprised to see 3 of the 6 people applauding our rivals. Because we couldn't afford to miss the last train home, we had to leave before the final whistle but we only missed a couple of minutes of injury time and we were out before the rest of the crowd. We said goodbye to Xurxo who was driving back home and not going back to Coruna and then got back in 2 taxis to the train station. After what seemed like the longest train journey in history (unless you're Fabian), we got back into Coruna and found a bar showing the end of the Recre v Barca game. After walking back from the train station to the city centre, myself and Leon decided that sleep was a good idea whilst for Miles, Scott and Fabian; the night ended up in Matthews again, the Irish pub.

Sunday was the day we were all here for. After a good breakfast in a local café/restaurant, we headed over to the Hotel Hesperia Finisterre, which was where the players were staying. I had spoken with Julian De Guzman a few times and arranged for us all to go over and see the players but was a little unsure on how the staff of a 5 star hotel might appreciate 5 football fans walking in.

Thankfully, the guy on reception asked who we were and who we were here to see and after a check of his list, we were asked to take a seat while he phoned Julian to tell him we were here. The good news was that we hadn't been thrown out by the staff but the bad news was, they were all just going for breakfast and we were asked to come back again in an hour.

After a few drinks in a local café, which would have made more money from us if their coffee machine wasn't broken, we braved the rain and made our way back to the hotel. We waited a little while and then discovered that the squad were all in a players meeting. Fortunately, we were told we could go upstairs and wait in the bar, which was great as a lot of the players made their way out from the meeting to the bar shortly afterwards.

As I got up to go and see De Guzman, someone spoke to Cristian Willhelmson, who came over and had a conversation with Fabian in Swedish.


De Guzman then came over and had a good chat and posed for some photos with us. The guy is just such a nice, friendly down to earth guy and he was chatting about lots of interesting things, such as living arrangements for players joining Depor, to the hopes and ambitions of the players and even his contract situation. Totally top guy!!!

Coloccini also came over and had a couple of photos taken with Scott and Leon but soon after, the players all disappeared to their rooms. We also left and headed off back to the hotel or internet café. Myself and Leon then went for something to eat in the café we ate in on Friday night after Miles' recommendation. The others turned up on the way to the stadium and we then headed off to the footballing shrine that is the Riazor stadium.

We had some good tickets (thanks to Miles) at the back of the Preferencia Superior, which meant that if it rained, we wouldn't get wet. Surprisingly though, the heavy rain from that morning and the evening before had totally disappeared and it was now bright sunshine. This was obviously a sign that it would be a happy day, as Depor soon set about dismantling A. Bilbao.

After just 30 minutes we got our first chance to celebrate as Coloccini put us 1-0 up and just to make matters even better, his celebration in front of Caparros was the icing on the cake. With Sergio slotting away a very cooly taken penalty and then Filipe showing all his skill and composure to lift the ball over the advancing keeper from a tight angle; we were in footballing heaven. Depor had played very well and the result was not even flattering as it was totally deserved. The bulk of the Bilbao fans had played their part in adding to a wonderful atmosphere, both outside the ground before the game and inside.


After the game, we went round to the opposite side of the ground, as De Guzman had mentioned that we could get a lot of autographs and photos from the players as they came out there. Sure enough, the players came out and we were able to get photographs with the likes of Valerón, Xisco, Lafita, Filipe etc.

Shortly after all the players disappeared off home, we headed off to find a place to eat which was showing the late game. We eventually ended up in a small restaurant the other side of Maria Pita square and sat down to watch Almeria v Villarreal whilst eating our meals. The restaurant had intended closing up early by the looks of it but they allowed us to watch the game until the end and then closed up as soon as we left. On the way back to the hotel, Scott stumbled upon a little place which looked like it was either a strip club or a brothel. In all the times I'd been to Coruña, I'd never seen this place but Scott seemed to be following a homing beacon, leading us to suspect he'd frequented this dodgy place on a previous trip. Of course, being the upstanding, honest, pure gentlemen that we were, we didn't venture inside and instead walked back to the hotel for an early(ish) night.

On the Monday morning, we got an extra treat. After breakfast, we went to the club's offices, in the hope that they might let us in to have a look round the trophy room. We pressed the buzzer and they let us straight in and once inside, Leon explained to them that we were Depor fans from the International Forum and we had travelled from all across Europe. To our delight, the secretary took us right into the boardroom/trophy room and let us have a good look round and take photos. Some of the trophies go back decades ago and the cabinets were overflowing. It was a great experience for us and one very much appreciated.

After our trip to the club's offices, we went back to the Riazor and with no security there, we walked past the outside barriers and into the actual stadium. There were some men sat about near the entrance to the stadium and Leon asked if it was Ok if we went in, to which they replied that it was fine as long as we didn't go on the actual pitch. It was a pleasure to roam around the stadium, sitting on the bench and even the sun managed to enhance the experience. After a short time inside the stadium, we had to head off back to the hotel to check out and then go to the airport.

Once at the airport, I got out my large flag and we asked a man if he'd take a photo of us all holding our Depor Flag. Unfortunately, the first guy refused as he was a miserable Bilbao fan but shortly afterwards, one of the airport workers took the photo. We said goodbye to Leon first, who was travelling back to Holland via Madrid and then the rest of us went for something to eat. Scott was feeling brave and went for the octopus, which I tried too but I think it would be better hot.

Shortly afterwards, the four us got on the plane to London Heathrow and 2 hours later we were saying our goodbyes, as Fabian headed into London to meet a friend, Scott headed to Terminal 5 to get the plane back to Glasgow and myself and Miles both headed back to Southampton and Brighton respectively.

For me, the first official Forum Trip of had been a total success, largely thanks to the great company of Miles(Diligent), Scott (Crocodile_Dundee), Fabian, Leon and Xurxo. Hopefully, the photos and experiences of this trip will inspire many more forum members to make the trip for the 2008/2009 Forum Trip.

Account by Rik Gonzalez(deporik)