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Glacis United

Ground: Victoria Stadium

Visits: 1

Date: 19th February 2017

Match: Glacis United - Lions Gibraltar  1-0  (First Division)

Attendance: 30

On Sunday it was time for the annual Sevilla Marathon, which explained the higher than expected rate for my hotel room. No marathon for me though. At 09.30 I boarded a bus bringing me to La Linea de la Conceptión, which is next to the border with Gibraltar. The bus journey took 4 hours and as we approached the coast we were greeted by strong winds and heavy rain. When I had breakfast I looked at the Met Office forecast for Gibraltar and it said heavy rain from 9am to 9pm and strong winds with gusts of 45 mph (18m/s). Maybe I should have followed a friend´s suggestion and go to Cadiz instead? I wanted to visit Gibraltar as it is an interesting place but above all a new country for me footballwise. As I left the bus station in La Linea de la Conceptión it suddenly stopped to rain and I could make the 5-minute walk to the border without getting soaked. Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory and has an area of 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi). The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region. At its foot is a densely populated city area, home to over 30,000. During World War II it was an important base for the Royal Navy as it controlled the entrance and exit to the Mediterranean Sea, which is only eight miles (13 km) wide at this point. Today Gibraltar's economy is based largely on tourism, online gambling, financial services, and shipping. The sovereignty of Gibraltar is a major point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations as Spain asserts a claim to the territory. Gibraltarians overwhelmingly rejected proposals for Spanish sovereignty in a 1967 referendum and again in 2002. Under the Gibraltar constitution of 2006, Gibraltar governs its own affairs, though some powers, such as defence and foreign relations, remain the responsibility of the Government of the United Kingdom.

In the Gibraltar First Division, made up of 10 teams, all the games are played at Victoria Stadium. The ground is close to the border and next to the runway. A really poor strike might actually end up on the runway. Kick-off was at 16.30 and arriving at my hotel 14.15 I had 90 minutes to do some sightseeing before setting off for the ground. The obvious place to visit is of course the top of the impressive (420 m above sea level) rock. There is a cable car every 10 minutes and from my hotel it only took 10 minutes or so to walk to the base station. Once at the top I could really feel the strong wind. Because of the poor weather it was not possible to see Africa but the views of the nearby surroundings were stunning. The Upper Rock Nature Reserve is the only place in Europe where you can find monkeys living in the wild. The monkeys were not paying any attention at all to the tourists and it was very easy to take pictures of them. Once back from the rock I made a short sightseeing tour of the city centre before returning to my hotel. From the hotel it took me 15-20 minutes to walk to Victoria Stadium. Victoria Stadium has running tracks and two seated stands of which one is partly covered. Capacity must be around 2 500. The pitch is artificial (maybe that was the miracle I was hoping for last night) and with all the rain recently I was pleased to see a perfect pitch. Since my arrival to Gibraltar there had actually been very little rain but the wind was still very strong. Glacis United are 4th in the table and Lions Gibraltar 9th but in these conditions it was not easy for them to play football. For free-kicks and corners one player had to fix the ball with his hand while another player kicked the ball. It was free entrance and the total attendance was around 30. 0-0 at half-time and to warm myself up I left the ground and went to a nearby café for a hot drink. I was back in time for the second half and now the rain was back. The main (west) stand is partly covered but with the rain coming from the east it was only standing at the back of the stand you had protection. There was room for all 30 at the back though and in the 71st minute we could witness (yet another) miracle. Glacis managed to score and the game ended 1-0. The quality of the game was awful but even a good team would struggle in these conditions. Once back at my hotel I celebrated my 38th Länderpunkt with a really nice meal.

As I left Gibraltar on Monday morning the rain was bucketing down yet again. The receptionist at the hotel told me the weather in January and February is "crazy" in Gibraltar. At least this gave me the chance to meet a friendly taxi driver, who drove me to the border. It turned out he was a Spurs fan and he was somewhat impressed when I told him I have been to White Hart Lane four times! At 10.30 my bus then left La Linea de la Conceptión and three hours later I was in Málaga.

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Border, Spain/Gibraltar

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South Bastion (and a statue of Admiral Nelson)

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Bridge

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Castle

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View from the top of the rock

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View from the top of the rock

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View from the top of the rock

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View from the top of the rock

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Monkeys

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Monkey

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A jumping monkey!

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West Stand

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West Stand

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West Stand

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North End

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East Stand

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View of Victoria Stadium

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South End

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Players and officials entering the field

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Line-up

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Kick-off

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View of play

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View of play

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View of play

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After the game

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Pano