Whilst football fans looking for a Spanish football fix are often drawn to the mainland to watch the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid or Valencia, football and travel writer Steven Penny took a different path, by looking at the football scene on the volcanic island of Lanzarote during 2021/22.
The Island of Eternal Spring (as Lanzarote is known), is a Spanish island, located approximately 125 kilometres (80 miles) off the north coast of Africa, with its all year round sun attracting visitors from all over Europe since the 1980s. In terms of size of the island in UK terms, think the Isle of Man times four, with Lanzarote measuring approximately 37 miles (60 km) long by 12 miles (20km).
Given the size of the island and the fact that with a lack of grass due to the volcanic soil, you’d be forgiven for thinking that football pitches and stadiums would be scarce. However, in Island Hopping – the football grounds of Lanzarote, the author shows that it is a location with more than its fair share of teams and venues.
The main part of the book provides a colourful guide to the various clubs on the island with useful information showing a location map of the venue, ground address, entry price, club badge and home shirt as well as a number of images of the venue itself. The grounds themselves won’t win any awards for design, as many have a templated feel, with an artificial pitch, sometimes with a running track, and generally just one main stand. However, the dramatic volcanic backdrop of the island makes up for that in many cases.
What is also included and very useful to anyone unfamiliar with the Spanish pyramid, is that Penny provides a brief guide to the where the 17 Lanzarote clubs play their football in 2022/23 additionally adding colour coding to show the level. So readers are shown, taking La Liga as Level 1 (i.e. the league Barcelona and Real Madrid play in), the islands two current highest ranked teams, are UD Lanzarote and CD Union Sur Yaiza, who play at Level 5 in the Tercera División (with 18 Groups – Lanzarote and Union Sur Yaiza plating in the Canary Island Group). Penny though doesn’t just detail those grounds in use and like any good journalist seeks out other grounds and those no longer in use, providing an extensive record of facilities on the island.
This well research bulk of the book is supplemented by a short piece on Penny’s journey round the island as he attended a number of games, a brief history of football on Lanzarote, and a major high in UD Lanzarote’s footballing history when on 27 November 2001, they hosted Real Madrid in the Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey), with Madrid winning 3-1 with Luís Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Steve McManaman all appearing at some point in the game. There is also a brief noting of abbreviations used in the club names, and this reader was please to learn what the prefixes often used in Spanish team names, such as CD, CF and UD mean.
It’s a cracking guide for anyone visiting the island or indeed with an interest in Spanish football.
Lanzarote – sun, sea and…….soccer. Who would have guessed!
(Publisher: Penny for your Sports Publications. July 2022. Paperback: 120 pages)
Buy the book here: Island Hopping