Monday, November 10, 2008

Lepers vs Crows

On July 30th, 1972 Newell's hosted San Lorenzo in a 0-0 deadlock. In the stands that day was an American boy and his father... it was the only time we went to the stadium in our three and a half years living in Argentina.

Now often scoreless ties are boring affairs, but I don't remember this game that way. Maybe it was the fact that I was in the stands, but there were two very memorable moments, not that I remember which came first, one for each team that day. Los Cuervos had a long shot (I don't recall who took it) that I swear came off the joint between the crossbar and post with so much spin that it curved from heading back out onto the field to becoming a goal kick for Newell's.

Newell's moment came when the ball was cleared in from our half. The ball climbed skyward and all eyes in the stands followed it's flight. If a NFL scout had been there that day he would have been drooling over the idea that he'd found the greatest punter ever. As the ball came down San Lorenzo's keeper was rushing out, but Mendoza beat him to it and confidently placed the ball in the back of the net.

Unfortunately the linesman's flag was up, off-sides was the called. The next school day I was asked by friends on the bus as to whether the call was correct. I swore that day that it wasn't, so blinded by my passion for my team that I could simply explain that I, like everyone else, hadn't seen anything but the ball soaring to unimaginable heights, before coming down to be found by Mendoza.

San Lorenzo went on to win the Campeonato Metropolitano that year, earning 49 pts from 34 games played (back then it was 2 points for a win.) Currently they are tied with Boca Jrs for first on 29 pts from 14 games, while Newell's have 23. On saturday Newell's will host San Lorenzo again, this time San Lorenzo will be fighting to hold on to first, while Newell's are playing to make up ground.

With only 5 games to go, Newell's don't have much chance to win the title, but there is still that hope. After my last posting someone added a comment where they state that they hate San Lorenzo. I can't bring myself to hate them. They were the best team when I lived in Argentina, and they were a joy to watch. Si, yo soy un leproso... but I came away with other teams that I like, some that I respect, and few that I can say I hate. It's Newell's first, then Independiente, San Lorenzo, and then all the rest.

Still, that can change. I use to like Velez Sarsfield, that team having the great Carlos Bianchi when I was living in Rosario. But during the 2004 Apertura Velez was a constant thorn in our side, always there threatening to take over first even to the last day of the championship. Still, I guess I'd still put them amongst the teams I respect. On Saturday I will still respect San Lorenzo, but I will not be placing my hope on them, porque soy un leproso.

Central? That's another matter. They are looking like a candidate for relegation after the Clausura 2009, barring a complete turn around in fortunes between now and then, but that is not what I would wish on our hated rival. No, much better would be a championship were they held a lead until the final day, a day in which their lead was at stake, with Newell's nipping at their heels in second. And on that last day the Clasico Rosarino would be played, Newell's would win, taking not only the clasico but the title as well, depriving Los Canallas of both pride and glory and taking them for ourselves.


enganche said...

I appreciate the sentiment towards Independiente. I too have always had an affinity for Newell's even if I have a friendly wager with a good friend of mine who is a Newell's fan whenever the Diablos Rojos player Newell's. Maybe it stems from the fact that traditionally Independiente and Newell's have been two clubs which emphasize stylish attacking play? Newell's may have gotten away from that style in recent years but with Gamboa as their coach they are returning to their cultured way of playing and that is good to see.

David Phillips said...

I'm sure there's some truth in that, enganche, though I have no love, nor hatred for River, who traditionally have been nothing if only stylish attacking teams (current form being a huge exception.)

I think more that it is the attacking play our teams embrace, along with players who are brave enough to make challenges that River Plate do not.

Also, there are two memorable players that were first with Independiente, and then with Newell's during my time in Argentina. One is mentioned in the above article, Mendoza. The other was Magan.

My most vivid memory of Magan was his taking a red card when the ball went out of bounds and the call went against Newell's. He was so angry that he took the ball kicked it straight up into the air right in front of the ref.