Book Review: Working Class Heroes: The Story of Rayo Vallecano, Madrid’s Forgotten Team by Robbie Dunne
Most people would instantly come up with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid pretty quickly, but how many know the third? Well, presumably very few. And to put you out of your misery, the club making up the trio is Rayo Vallecano, who as recently as the 2015/16 season played in La Liga, but who currently ply their trade in the Segunda Division (La Liga 2).
Freelance journalist Robbie Dunne decided to investigate the story of the Los Vallecanos (The Vallecans) as the team adjusted to life in the second tier of Spanish football in the 2016/17 campaign, whilst he came to grips with life and the language in Spain. What he discovers during his year following the club is a story that goes beyond football.
In a book which stylistically mixes diary entries from games he attended and short essays, the author tells the story of a club which is all about the community, proud that it represents not Madrid but the barrio (the neighbourhood). This is a club of the working-class people of Vallecas, who are proud of their roots and their anti-fascist stance. Therefore, Dunne documents something of the history of Spain, so that readers can see how politics and social history have been influential in the development and philosophy of Vallecas in terms of its people and team.
The club is inextricably linked to those who attend games headed by the Bukaneros and in the twelve-months covered by the book, they battle both on and off the pitch, as the team fights against succumbing to a second straight relegation and fiercely demonstrates its opposition to the Club President, and a revolving door policy in relation to the team manager’s.
It is undoubtedly an interesting read into on one of the lesser lights of Spanish football and does provide a glimpse into a very different environment which does not have a comparable example of in the English professional game.