Valladolid: The Tour Report
by Binky with additional stories from Prof
The Quinssa trip to Valladolid must rank as one of the great logistics exercises in history. Not only was the requirement to get more than 50 supporters to the town and back again, but the fact that nobody spoke Spanish, we have never been to this neck of the woods before, the town was over 100k from the Airport, people were arriving at different times and different locations, makes for a hideously complicated project. It is important that recognition is given to Quinssa and, in particular, Prof for the skill, expertise and downright luck in ensuring that this weekend was a perfect example of precision planning and execution.
The aim was to meet up at Madrid airport to take a coach North to Valladolid. Most flew on BMI from Heathrow, some on SleazyJet from Luton, others from Gatwick and more still from Madrid, where they had spent the evening before. The SleazyJet pilot was Australian and, in revenge for the loss of 'Bill', managed to perform the airline version of missing a penalty from in front of the posts, cocked-up the approach, and had to go around again. BMI, ever the considerate airline, decided to make the last 15 minutes as bumpy as possible to shake down the contents of their passengers stomachs to enable more room for Tapas and beer. The coach driver, proudly displaying his Quinssa' sign, was there to meet the arrivals and we soon boarded the coach, plugged in the video of the Bridgend game and settled down to the all-too-familiar routine of coach travel. Unfortunately, there was a massive traffic jam outside the airport and much of Melvin’s home-brewed Sloe Gin disappeared before we had even left the outskirts of Madrid. Gin induced coma then ensued for many of the travellers, something that made the journey seem a lot faster.
Arriving at Valladolid, we found that the coach was too big to fit down the road to the Hotel, so we disembarked and chattered along like a multi-coloured school party to find our small, but perfectly formed, hotel bang smack in the middle of town. Check-in was rapid as we were all booked in under the name of 'Franklin'. We dumped our kit and then headed back to the bar, bemoaning the fact that, as Quins supporters, we should expect to pay at least £5 for a beer in the room mini-bar and not a couple of Euro! The bar, likewise charged €3.20 for 2 beers! This was going to be a great weekend.
Bimbling around the town, with no map and even less Spanish, we ended up in a series of bars seeking alcohol and perhaps even a tasty nibble or two. To our dismay, we found that restaurants did not open to at least 9pm, so we had to make do with some unidentifiable Tapas and booze. Eventually we found a restaurant and set about translating the menu from MrsBs phrasebook. The choices included Horny Trout, Macaroni and something and something something. Whatever it was, it was very nice and very cheap! After the meal and a few cases of wine, many headed back to drink the hotel bar dry and others dispersed around the many, many bars and clubs of Valladolid. Binky lost MrsB and had to go back to the restaurant, where a very grateful owner, obviously aware that rescue had arrived, pointed out MrsB, Innuendo Andy and Batquin burbling away to each other, surrounded by the carcasses of many bottles of wine.
Another group containing Chalky, the only Spanish speaker on the trip, found a fine restaurant and were persuaded to swap their shirts and eat bullocks, at least I think thats what they said it was. Chalky and F150 became firm friends with the owner, Oscar, and were invited to his bar after the restaurant closed, they became such good friends that I think they have to marry his sisters and they are his childrens god fathers!
Another group of hard core drinkers had eschewed the idea of solids altogether and headed out for fluids, many bars were visited, some were opening later on and had to be remembered so we could returned to them. Drinks were drunk, friends were made, linguistic lessons were received from some of the cunning and comely local lovelies, euro bank notes were stuck on ceilings of bars both by us and by various barmaids with a lifting base of Prof, Thumper, AJB and Profs bro they were very, very safe, at least from falling! Some singing was done but eventually even the latest opening bars started to close so a wander back to the hotel was in order. The look on the face of the night porter was something to be seen (and focused on) but everyone managed to get back.
For some, Reveille the following day was very early as the dustmen emptied the bottle skips outside the hotel. Most made the simple breakfast of coffee, croissants and orange juice and then planned the trip to the Rugby ground to watch Newcastle play VRAC. Smiler, Aldershot’s first international playboy, practised his Spanish on the waiter; 'Eey Oop, cocker, more coffee danke schon!'. We then wandered around the town for half an hour trying to find taxis, before doing the sensible thing and went back to the hotel to ask them to book them.
Chalky, F150 and The Prof met up with the proprietor of the Vino Tinto restaurant and bar and were given a lift to the ground in the back of a pick up truck.
The ground is on the outskirts of town and is a small and friendly set up. We arrived, complete with Santa hats, chanting 'Come on you Quins'. The English had arrived! More very cheap beer in massive glasses and superb bacon rolls followed (boy, are the Spanish going to get a shock when they come to the Stoop) and we took our seats on the freezing cold concrete benches.
The Newcastle supporters (few, out of tune, but very, very nice) sat at the other end of the stand and we proceeded to enjoy a pretty one-sided game of Rugby. At half time, Binky managed to be interviewed by Spanish telly and pictures of the block of Quins fans appeared in the following day's papers under the title 'Newcastle Aficionados. After the game, the VRAC supporters’ club laid on coaches to take the Falcons fans back to the club bar in town and they very kindly invited us to join them. There then followed a very drunken afternoon the VRAC bar, some again went off for solids but a lot stayed behind to take advantage of the hospitality of the VRAC supporters club. Rounds were bought but no money was asked for, the honest Quins types asked how much was owed, nothing, came the reply – it was a free bar. Eyes lit up, smiles grew, wallets were put away and some serious (and a lot of very silly) drinking started. The Quins shirt seemed to be very popular amongst the locals and shirt swapping was the order of the day. After a couple of hours it was difficult to know who supported who. Melvin managed to swap his shirt with a supporter of a small village team, when one of the VRAC fans saw it he came over and said 'this shirt is from a very small, very bad team, they are w***!', Melvin explained that it makes the shirt more special because of its rarity value, the local wasn’t convinced!
Trays of food were brought out and handed round, many hundreds of photographs were taken. A bladder full of wine appeared and was drunk from with various degrees of success by the DGs. The locals then put on a recording of the RWC final and much cheering and singing ensued.
When it came time to leave one group decided to visit Oscars restaurant, we were greeted like long lost friends perhaps we had overtipped the night before. And huge plates of roasted meat were produced and consumed. A small group decided that even though the restaurant was closing we still hadnt finished, so we crossed the road to Oscars other establishment a bar.
As we walked in we saw we were at home, the beautiful people of Valladolid were there, the thinkers, the movers and shakers, we were bathed in the light of utter civility, then the place started to empty out, was it out singing we wondered. So there we were Chalky, BognorQuin, ScottyDog, BikeQuin, Lou, SteveW and The Prof propping up a bar in after it had closed. Chalky forgetting where he was went behind the bar and started pouring drinks while BikeQuin started singing various show tunes with surprising skill.
The staff then realised that they would be stuck in the bar all night unless they could get us out so they suggested a club for us to go to. Lou, SteveW, BikeQuin and Prof bumped into some of the Newcastle team and asked how Frodo was getting on with them; ‘who?’ they asked; 'you know, Frodo, Gollings' was our reply; 'he’s a bit of hard work, isn’t he' was their response. They thanked the Quins fans who were supporting Newcastle (apparently that’s why we were at the game!). More drinks were drunk before Prof and Lou tripped the light fantastic and put on a dance performance that was grace personified – Terpsichore herself couldn’t have done any better! Somehow everyone managed to get back to the hotel again!
Sunday saw the same familiar faces, albeit slightly more pale and wan, arriving for breakfast. Prof had arranged for a coach to take us to the ground and, eventually, we all boarded and sweated (those in the new shirts wickked) our way in the super-heated coach to the outskirts of town. Nobody knew the Spanish for 'turn on the air-conditioning' and the cries of 'Oi – Manuel. Airio-Conditionadio' did not seem to work. The Spanish supporters, immaculately turned out, seemed somewhat surprised at this unruly and colourful circus arriving. Melvin shouted 'who ate all the pies?' to who he perceived to be a large Spanish gentleman strolling by, only to be given the thumbs up in return from the Geordie. Likewise, one of the IRB competition organisers, who happened to be somewhat taller than his hair, shouted at Melvin 'Nice Hat!'. Quick as a flash, Melvin retorted 'Nice head!' to massive cheers from the Quins choir. Our brave boys ran onto the pitch to be greeted by the horned helmet and a cacophony of noise from the Quins support. The match is covered elsewhere, but we were lucky in that Matty Moore kept us up to date with the scorers from the forward tries. Both sets of players came over to salute the supporters.
After the game, we mingled with the fantastic Spanish supporters, many photos were taken, badges exchanged and banter in pidgin Spanish and English took place. Big Doug tried to put his back back into working order by leaning or lying on various hard surfaces. BognorQuins nose became a water feature that Charlie Dimmock would have been proud of. The huge beers were drunk, the bacon rolls ran out, the poisonous bar snacks were the only things left they were plastic cups filled with various sorts of pickles.
Trying to fit 75 people on a 50 seater coach was never going to work so some people had to fend for themselves on the way back and the merry fans were disgorged back at the hotel. The group went to the bar where we had been invited by their players the XL Bar, but it wasnt yet open, the group split some for solids a few just for fluids again.
A small group found their way back to the Blues Bar that had been frequented on the Friday night and surprisingly they let us in, the fact that we were the only customers had nothing to do with it!
Some ordered beers (not falling for the bottles of shandy that they had ended up drinking previously) and the terrible trio of Thumper, Profs bro and The Prof thought session drinking vodka was the best idea. Three vodka and tonics were ordered, the oh so wonderful barmaid produced three glasses with ice, three bottles of tonic and a bottle of vodka, instead of pouring it herself she handed the bottle over so we could pour our own measures in the ensuing fracas drinks of mammoth proportions were poured and consumed. Babs and Jason joined the group and Jason sat forlornly looking out of the window, scaring the passers by with the help of Melvin.
Mannequin, BognorQuin and Big Doug bellied up to the bar and got stuck in, the drink seemed to be working when Mannequin and Big Doug danced a beautiful and strangely erotic tango it something that few white men have seen and lived to tell the tale!
Then a few players turned up, looked through the door and surprisingly decided to come in. BillyD, Debby (Kai Horstmann) and Scotty came in first for a quiet drink. Then Laurent and Jeweller came in, Jeweller walked straight behind the bar and started lining up and filling shot glasses. The barmaid seemed to be very happy, or it might have just been a look of powerlessness. It was noted that Jason had gone missing only to be found head down in a bottle bank a little down the road fingers pointed to a certain Team Manager with a big grin on his face.
Then Ceri Jones was spotted on the other side of the road tying in vain to get into the bank opposite. He was brought over and it was suggested that the Welsh boys give us a song – so Ceri and Thumper launched into something in Welsh which was undoubtedly disgusting and rude. More Jeweller concoctions were poured and consumed and a phone rang. Everyone looked at everyone else before Prof realised his trews were making the noise (or rather the phone in the pocket ) the phone was handed to Laurent to answer and a conversation in French was had – the caller was fluent French speaker and bilingual interviewer – Lou. The El Salvador players were requesting the presence of the Prof so the short journey round the corner to the XL Bar was made.
A scene that Bacchus would have been proud of greeted us, more shirt swapping was going on, Ace was in the DJ booth playing music, Quins fans and players mixed with Centransa players and fans. Prof and Lou met up with Asis and Antonio two players that had been in touch for a while offering advice about their town and much fun was had. Duffy and Keogh sang song after son from the emerald isle, sadly they only knew three different ones but that didn't mean they didnt sing the same ones over and over again.
Many, many stories came out of this evening but should they be told?
... On the advice of our lawyers the article must end here, but we can say a few more things, the welcome we got from the people of Valladolid was incredibly warm, their generosity was amazing, the Centransa players were a great bunch and many Quins fans were prevented from spending any money for much of the time. Thanks too must go to Oscar and his staff in the Vino Tinto Restaurant and Bar and to the various barmaids in the Blues Bar. The Newcastle fans were also very generous to offer us lifts back to the city from the ground. All in all it was an excellent trip, those of you who are drawn to play against Centransa in years to come are in for a great trip.