So a few months ago I was travelling with some friends through Sri Lanka on tuk-tuk’s. Those 10 days were awesome and would often ebb and flow between super exciting, intense moments to long stretches of quiet contemplation and conversation on the road.
One of the conversations that I had during these long driving stretches really stuck with me. I was in one of the tuk-tuk’s with my friend Sticks and we were having a moment where we were discussing how lucky we were and how awesome our lives have been. We have been able to travel, make great friendships, work in well paid jobs and most importantly been brought up in safe, loving environments. During this conversation Sticks talked to me about the theory of being “kissed on the d*ck”. This is where god, jehova, buddah, overall consciousness or whatever you want to call it, grabbed you before you were plonked on this earth and gave you a little kiss on the dick, blessed you with some amazing luck and sent you on your path through life.
Never was this more apparent to me than during my last weekend in Valencia.
For many years I have wanted to go to a Valencia CF match. I became a fan of the team as a result of making some awesome friendships with Pascual and Chimo, two true Valencianistas. The last few times I had been in Valencia there were no games happening at the hallowed home turf of Valencia CF, Mestalla. I am soon to be heading to South America and I was not going to leave this part of the world without getting to a game.
I booked tickets to fly in from Morocco on the evening of Friday the 20th of October for the Valencia vs Sevilla match on the Saturday afternoon. After getting picked up by none other than Pascual, we hit a few bars and then went to bed, getting a good rest in for the big event!
On Saturday I was pumped!! I had brought my Valencia jersey with me ready to wear in the stadium but Pascual told me not to worry about putting it on. We were going to meet with one of the official supporter’s groups (la peña Viachers) and would most likely all be wearing the same shirt together with them. Not thinking much of this we headed to have a couple of drinks with Viachers. They were really welcoming and kind of intrigued as to how an Australian becomes a Valencia fan. After chatting for a bit, I looked around and saw everyone in Valencia jerseys, including my friends Pascual, Chimo and Roberto. I started to get a little annoyed that I wasn’t wearing mine? What was going on?!
We left the Viachers and joined up with a smaller group of our friends at restaurant Mo for a classic paella. Again, everyone in Valencia jerseys! Pascual beckoned me inside to have a look at the paella being cooked. To be honest, I wasn’t really fussed to see it, I wanted to be wearing my jersey not the stupid grey t-shirt I had on! This was my first Valencia CF match for god’s sake!
I wander inside the restaurant and take a look at the Paella nonetheless. We had a laugh with the restaurant staff and then headed back outside to our table. At this stage, Pascual had taken my camera from me and was filming. Still completely clueless I see a package at my seat at the table. Now I am excited…
The boys start chanting my name in the typical celebration style of our group “La Brigada”. I open the package and see that the guys have gone out and bought me a new jersey for the day. Not only that, they also printed one of my nick names “Nickao” on the back of the jersey with the number seven to represent the size of my “pipa” (nose).
I was shocked and excited! I have no idea what I have done in a past life or my current one to have such an amazing group of friends anywhere, let alone in Valencia, on the other side of the world to where I grew up!
After a lot of hugs, words of thanks and some great food we went to the stadium.
The atmosphere was electric!! Valencia is coming second on the table, ahead of Real Madrid and just behind Barcelona. Sevilla is a long-time rival that historically has been at the centre of a few Valencia CF heartbreaks so the match was as big as they come!
We were chanting on the streets with the Viachers peña, meeting up with other members of our group and even dropping in to say hello to the Spanish national team’s most famous supporter, Manolo del Bombo!
While we were walking around, Pascual spotted a media team from Valencia Play TV interviewing people on the street. He mentioned that he had a friend here from Australia and they asked to interview me. I wasn’t able to do the interview in Spanish but they asked for my details and said they would be in touch. I didn’t think too much about it and entered the stadium.
The atmosphere was awesome. Young and old, families and friends, everyone was getting into it. The unity and excitement in the stadium was palpable. After a pretty even start to the game Valencia went up 1-0, then 2-0, then 3-0, then 4-0!!! Everyone was pumped, the chants continued and when the final whistle blew it was high fives all round!
We were the last ones in Mestalla, singing the Valencia CF anthem and savouring the moment. We then went out for dinner and enjoyed the victory along with everyone else in the city.
It doesn’t end here though…the next day I got an email from Valencia Play TV…
“Hi, this is Maria form Valencia CF official TV, we met yesterday outside of Mestalla. We are interested in interviewing you so you can tell us your experience as an Australian Valencia fan. Please let me know if you can meet up tomorrow. I know you are leaving Tuesday but it would be very cool to get to interview you before you head home.
Feel free to email me or text me anytime, Thanks”
I couldn’t believe it! My incredulity was only outmatched by the excitement from the boys! Pascual couldn’t believe it, Roberto was shocked, Chimo was pumped for it, Yuyu was yelling “SAAAA GGUUUAARRAAASSSS” and Pepe just smiled and laughed saying “Nick, tio, es un escandalo!”.
On Monday at noon I was interviewed outside the stadium talking about my experiences as a fan, we then went into the stadium and walked around the inner sanctum. After telling my story and getting all the footage they needed I was invited to the team’s closed training session later that day!!
Again, the boys were flipping out, I was pretty excited and there was nothing left to do but be out there at the training pitch in the evening. Chimo has to be quoted here with the best call of the day saying “Nick, tienes una flor en el culo” (Nick you have a flower growing out of your ass”) that’s how lucky I was.
I went behind the security gates at the training fields and was closer than any of the media while the team was training. After after noting a few players who I would like to say hello to, I was told to wait until after they were done with the technical section of the session to have my photo taken with them.
I went to the bar outside the security gates and sat with the guys, we chatted and waited for this photo to happen. Our contact came out and we were ready to go…
We couldn’t get in to take the photo. The team had much to do and the manager was not up for distractions. This I could totally respect so away we went to dinner with the lads but not before we saw Phil Neville pulling into the parking lot!!
The next day, about six of the guys showed up for a farewell lunch with me at none other than “La Pergola”, the best boccadillo place in the city. Pascual and I hugged each other at least 7 times before I left, it was very emotional but simply awesome. I am not sure when I will get to see him or the rest of the guys again but I cannot tell you how grateful I am to them all!
Later that evening, I received a message from Pascual saying:
“It was a great moment seeing you leave with my friends today! I have grown up with them and there you were with them!!! (Ok im getting too sentimental)”
To which I obviously responded with an equally sentimental message.
Yuyu and Jorge (Me Cago) took me to the airport, which was probably for the best as I am pretty sure there would have been tears with Pascual.
I love all these guys, y nada mas…AMUNT VALENCIA, AMUNT LA BRIGADA!!
The reflective stuff
I have spoken about the importance of connections with people in my last post. What I didn’t mention is the importance of luck in meeting these people and the importance of being open to these chance scenarios. Don’t miss the opportunity to do that random thing, meet that random person or be in a random place. Recognise those moments when you have been “kissed on the d*ck”, accept that kiss and be grateful.
I will let you know when the interview is up on the Valencia Play TV website!
As always, take what you will from this post and I will see you next time!