As the final whistle went last night Spanish, Dutch, Belgians, Swedish, Norweigan, Russians and British all stood together to applaud another convincing home win for CD Torrevieja. It had been a wonderful evening at the Vicente Garcia and as Torrevieja celebrated Holy Week the football team resurrected their own promotion hopes.
CD Torrevieja had just beaten CF Cullera 4-1 at Estadio Vicente Garcia in the Tercera Group VI, a result that had moved the side up to tenth in the table, just three points short of a play off spot. It meant that new manager, Pedreno, had gathered seven points from his first three matches and seen a massive ten goals scored in just two home games.
CD Torrevieja are the local professional football club. Although they play in the 4th tier of Spanish League football, they are no longer just a Spanish football club. They are an international football club. Torrevieja as a town has a population of about 100,000 people when everyone is here, but it is the sort of place where people have a holiday home, meaning that for nine months of the year it is very, very quiet. The town itself has a healthy mix of residents. We have the Spanish locals of course, and then a high percentage of ex-pats, be them British, Russian, German, French or Scandinavian.
This, in turn, is shown in the football club. The board is an even split of Spanish and British and the small gates at the ground are made up of a mix of the local community. Last month I joined the club as a director, to drive more commercial & PR activity and to help people know that this wonderful club exists. Since my arrival CD Torrevieja have had their membership base, or Socios as they are called in Spain, almost double with people signing up from the USA, Canada, Norway and the UK to get behind the club. This is fantastic, but I am determined to get more local interest!
I joined the club at the start of March having moved out here. One of the first things I did, having fired them up on the computer game Football Manager 2015 and got them promoted, was go and watch a game and I instantly felt a connection with the place. I then contacted the club and offered my services to help the club commercially with a simple, but ambitious aim to get them self-sufficient in the next three years. We have a wonderful president at the club and he, like many others in lower level football across the world, funds the shortfall in revenue from his own back pocket. When I heard that the club used to have a following in the thousands at home games and now it is down in the lower hundreds, it became an instant challenge to me.
CD Torrevieja had been followed by a large and loyal set of fans and just under a decade ago would regularly run out at Estadio Vicente Garcia to a crowd of over 3000. That crowd were made up predominantly of British ex-pats, members of the “Torry Army”, an official Pena made up of retiring British football fans living on the Costa Blanca. Following some internal club politics seeing a large chunk of the fans switch allegiance to another local club, many growing old and moving back to the UK to see out their years and, frankly, some passing away the “Torry Army” has dwindled in numbers and have not been replaced.
It is not living in the past to think we can get those sorts of numbers into the club again. Maybe not from exactly the same source as before, sure, but the club feels very disconnected from it’s local community. By that I mean, it is not a British club. It is not a Spanish club. It is the official club of Torrevieja which is a truly international town, therefore as a club we have to start working harder and connecting with it’s local community and not just expect people to turn up. That doesn’t mean go out and just tell people to come and watch, it is giving them something they feel they are a part of, can have a say in and really be proud of. I look at some of the football clubs that I really respect, and they have a huge element of ‘fan ownership.’ I don’t just mean literally owning the fixtures and fittings of the club, but the local community own the club in the sense that they want to be part of it, will help it and feel like they are getting something in return. It is not just about money, if as a club we start doing the right things then I am sure the revenues will increase, but we cannot just chase the money from the word go.
I have many new initiatives that will be launched between now and the start of the 2015/16 season. One of the early ones that has been successful has seen the club form an official link with a website that is made up of fans and players of the computer game Football Manager 2015.
It has been amazing, and it shows that even by not being here that people can feel part of the club. The group did a fundraising event earlier in the month and raised over €400 in return for signed merchandise from the players and plenty of thanks. No other club has ever had this kind of link in the Football Manager community and we are very proud.
CD Torrevieja are a club that needs to embrace the international culture it lives in. New people that move to Torrevieja or even just come on holiday do look to see what the local club is, especially if they are football fans. If the club can become the hub of the community, where new people can come to make friends, feel part of Torrevieja and help people start to call the town home then it will not be long before the community will stand up and be proud of their football club.
If you are interested in becoming an official member of CD Torrevieja, please email me on [email protected]
Our next game is Easter Sunday, against UD Benigánim. We kick off at 5pm at Estadio Vicente Garcia and entry is just €10 (kids get in for free). As we push hard for a promotion play-off spot every match has something riding on it, so the entertainment should be high!