Teas­er for Azorean foot­ball – Facts and exper­i­ences from an Eden Azores read­er (Guest Post)

In my opin­ion in order to be able to write a suc­cess­ful blog it is very import­ant for the author to be curi­ous and open minded. It’s import­ant to show interest in top­ics which – at first – do not seem to be that excit­ing. For me this top­ic was foot­ball (soc­cer).

A few months ago all head­lines on the Azores were cel­eb­rat­ing loc­al foot­ball team which made it to the top divi­sion of the Por­tuguese foot­ball league sys­tem. I remem­ber shar­ing an art­icle about this vic­tory on the Eden Azores Face­book page, but this was pretty much my reac­tion to the win.

But a few weeks ago a very kind read­er (Dani) asked me when I will finally write an art­icle about Azorean foot­ball. I do try to take read­er requests into con­sid­er­a­tion when choos­ing a new top­ic for an art­icle, but I am / was simply a stranger to foot­ball. Dani even wrote to me about his hol­i­day on Sao Miguel, which included attend­ing a foot­ball game at the sta­di­um in Pon­ta Del­gada where he had a won­der­ful time.

So I asked him to write a guest post about Azorean foot­ball for you. Dani did not hes­it­ate to take this chal­lenge, and got back to me with­in a very short time with an excel­lent art­icle about his exper­i­ences with Azorean foot­ball. In fact, his art­icle inspired me to go and see a game for myself.

Without fur­ther ado I would like you to read Dani’s inspir­ing art­icle. Hereby I would like to express my grat­it­ude to Dani for mak­ing me curi­ous about Azorean foot­ball and for writ­ing this great sum­mary.

Azorean foot­ball suc­cess – Santa Clara in the premi­er league

After 15 years, in May 2018, the foot­ball team C.D. Santa Clara made it again into the Por­tuguese premi­er league (Liga NOS). It must have been a dream come true for all the fans of the most fam­ous Azorean foot­ball club to see their beloved team make it to the top – with no less than a sil­ver medal. In the last few years C. D. Santa Clara was stuck in the second divi­sion – ranked 15th and 16th – and there were times when there was the threat they releg­ate into the third divi­sion. After such mediocre his­tory the fact that they made it into the premi­er league is itself a mir­acle. And hope­fully this mir­acle will con­tin­ue in the Liga NOS, and if the 4 matches played so far are any indic­a­tion – with 1 win, 2 draws, and 1 losses – the team is cur­rently ranks 8th in the sea­son which makes it a soar­ing suc­cess

Por­tuguese soc­cer stars on Sao Miguel island

The high­lights of this foot­ball sea­son will def­in­itely be the matches where Santa Clara is host­ing Os Três Grandes (The Big Three), the three most power­ful sport clubs in Por­tugal: SL Ben­fica, Sport­ing CP and FC Porto. The Big Three need no intro­duc­tion to foot­ball affec­tion­ados, since they are mul­tiple European Cham­pi­on Clubs’ Cup, UEFA Cup Win­ners Cup, and UEFA Europa League win­ners. With the excep­tion of Belen­enses in 1945 – 46 and Boav­ista in 2000-01, the same three clubs have won the Primeira Liga title alto­geth­er 82 times – Ben­fica (36 times), Porto (28 times) and Sport­ing CP (18 times) – in the Liga his­tory of 84 years. These three clubs gen­er­ally end up shar­ing the top three pos­i­tions, appear­ing more fre­quently in UEFA com­pet­i­tions and are the only three clubs in Por­tugal to have nev­er been releg­ated.

So the fant­ast­ic news is that Os Três Grandes will most likely be play­ing matches on Sao Miguel on the fol­low­ing dates:

  • Sport­ing CP – 4th of Novem­ber, 2018, 5pm
  • FC Porto – 16th of Decem­ber, 2018, 4pm
  • SL Ben­fica – 12th of Janu­ary, 2019, 4pm

I highly recom­mend these matches for every­one who will be on Sao Miguel on these dates, and of course for those who are still plan­ning their trip to the Azores.

In Septem­ber 2017 I was for­tu­nate enough to be able to attend the Santa Clara vs. Uniao Madeira match in Esta­dio de Sao Miguel, in Pon­ta Del­gada. This battle of “neigh­bors” was won by the home team in the last minute, with a res­ult of 2:1. The tick­ets cost only a few euros – very cheap com­pared to Hun­gari­an foot­ball tick­et prices. Also I found it a very eleg­ant ges­ture that ladies were allowed into the sta­di­um free of charge. There was no need to have a supporter’s ID card, neither were palm vein scan­ners installed at the entrance (*both of these meas­ures were recently intro­duced in Hun­gari­an foot­ball sta­di­ums to secure access to sta­di­ums and to identi­fy fans).

The loc­als were incred­ibly cool and friendly, and over­all it must be said that the event had a very famili­al atmo­sphere. Sadly, eat­ing sun­flower seeds by the bar­rel load is not in vogue here, instead Azorean foot­ball fans are snack­ing on olives. We found the red-white pop­corn of Santa Clara also to be very appeal­ing. I bought a scarf in the shop of the sta­di­um for 10 EUR – which is some­what cheap­er than aver­age. The loc­a­tion of the sta­di­um is ideal both on foot and with car, and there is also ample park­ing avail­able.

The Hun­gari­an con­nec­tion in Azorean foot­ball

Most of you prob­ably nev­er knew but there are in fact 2 play­ers, Vincze István (1998 – 2000) and Vay­er Gábor (2001 – 2004) who played in Santa Clara. It is import­ant to men­tion – hope­fully not a coin­cid­ence – that dur­ing both of their engage­ment the club was in the premi­er league.

Azorean foot­ball legend – the flight of the “Azorean eagle”

No art­icle about Azorean foot­ball would be com­plete without men­tion­ing its most prom­in­ent play­er from the 90s and early 2000: the legendary Paul­eta (full name: Pedro Miguel Car­reiro Resendes). Paul­eta – who scored 47 goals in 88 matches for Por­tugal and thus set a nation­al record at the time of his retire­ment, in fact he still holds the 2nd place on the list of all-time top goal scorers – was born in Pon­ta Del­gada, and star­ted his foot­ball career in Santa Clara. Later he moved on to Estor­il, Sala­manca, La Coruna, and Bor­deaux, to finally arrive to Par­is Saint Ger­main. Paul­eta scored more goals than oth­er fam­ous Por­tuguese foot­ball legends – such as Luis Figo and Euse­bio – and is only pre­ceded by Cris­ti­ano Ron­aldo. Paul­eta nev­er for­got about his roots, and is famed for his legendary goal cel­eb­ra­tion ges­ture of spread­ing his arms like wings earn­ing him the nick­name “Açor” after the Azores Islands nat­ive bird (which is also fea­tured on the region­al flag of the Autonom­ous Region of the Azores). The “Azorean eagle” swooped down almost 300 times dur­ing his foot­ball career (727 matches / 279 goals) which is an incred­ible feat.

All in all I think that watch­ing a C. D. Santa Clara match in the sta­di­um of Pon­ta Del­gada can be an inter­est­ing and fun addi­tion to an Azorean hol­i­day: a friendly, upbeat Por­tuguese game where the sta­di­um is loc­ated between beau­ti­ful sur­round­ings, the pop­corn is sweet, and instead of sun­flower seeds foot­ball fans are spit­ting olive pits.

My own exper­i­ence about an Azorean foot­ball match

Yes­ter­day I had my first foot­ball game exper­i­ence at São Miguel. For one of my blog read­er­’s Dani recom­mend­a­tion, I went to see this game. Last even­ing FC Porto played with a loc­al team Santa Clara. Santa Clara plays also in the 1st league in Por­tugal. It was an excit­ing match and Santa Clara played very well. FC Porto won 2: 1. For­tu­nately, I vis­ited this event with a soc­cer expert so I always knew what was hap­pen­ing. Thanks Nuno for the super „first” foot­ball exper­i­ence ! I really advice every­one to vis­it an Azorean foot­ball match dur­ing a trip to the Azores.

For this art­icle I used the inform­a­tion and pho­tos from the Paul­eta offi­cial face­book site and from our writer Dani.

For the latest news fol­low us on the Azori Éden Face­book page.  For more inspir­a­tion and beau­ti­ful pho­tos check out the Edenazores Ins­tagram, and for com­pre­hens­ive posts of course the www​.edenazores​.com blog.

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