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Madrid City in English
Saturday 25th of November 2017
Luc Ciotowski 1209 19th of September 2012 by Laura Tabor 19th of September 2012
Season’s greetings


September means soccer. looks at the past twelve months, and the year ahead, for Madrid’s five-a-side International Football League.

When I first played in the IFL Madrid in January 2006, it was with a fuzzy head having said “Yes” to “Do you play football?” and “Wanna play tomorrow?” during a nightclub conversation a few hours earlier. And I didn’t have the faintest idea what to expect. Galácticos or space cadets?
    The truth was a mixture of good players and ‘tryers’, and everything in between. What struck me, however, was the international mix of people—that some teams were impeccably turned out while others looked like rag-tag ensembles wearing vaguely the same coloured t-shirts. Notably too, there were no referees, yet everything was still organised and competitive.


Old and new
Records for the IFL Madrid (previously named EFL, standing for English Football League, by its English founders) run back to 1988, but the legend stretches as far back as 1982, the names of early league winners lost to history on mildew-ridden floppy disks. The league still uses the concrete five-a-side courts at the Colegio Santa María del Pilar Catholic school, near metro Sainz de Baranda, as it did all that time ago, but the 2011-12 season began as the biggest in its history as 20 teams signed up for the Sunday afternoon football.
    Eight new teams joined the ranks: J&Js (the first team for two seasons to feature girls in their line-up), La Naranja Mecánica, FC Dutch Gold (risen from the ashes of Moores Tribunal), Cuatroca, FC Catenaccio, Martha’s G&T, IFC de Malasaña and the brilliantly named twentieth team, FC Twenty. All 20 sides played each other once in a round-robin format before the top and bottom ten teams became two separate leagues. Each team then played once more against those in the same division.


Hitting the target
Despite two second division teams withdrawing after the split, the season would see 263 league matches and 2,868 goals between September and June. A blistering 120 of those goals were scored by Atlético Cero’s Dani Espadín, who became the league’s highest ever scorer in a single season and was worth an average of five a game to his team.
    The general scoring average of 10.9 goals per game meant, regardless of the standard, almost all the matches provided entertainment. However, FC Británico’s win over Los Lobos in a 1-0 yawn-fest set a new low-scoring record, a world away from the 24 scored in another of the season’s encounters and a universe away from the all-time high-scoring match which yielded 40 goals. Possibly the most exciting team to watch were the last to sign up: a total of 355 goals were scored in matches involving FC Twenty, who shunned defensive football and scored 154 goals while conceding 201, still earning a respectable fourth place in the second division.


Taking the titles
By the time of the league split in March there had already been several surprises and no team was unbeaten. Nine-time league winners Santana were nowhere to be seen and had only saved themselves from the second division with a late upturn in results. O’Neill’s United had briefly held the ascendancy but then fell back. First division champions Atlético Cero’s outstanding 18-month run without a loss was shattered in November when they could only raise four men and were subsequently mauled 13-5 by FC Dutch Gold. A further draw and a couple of fixtures still to fulfil meant they trailed an impressive-looking O’Neill’s Celtic, who had dropped just three points before the separation. The second division appeared to be a question of whether an improving FC Británico could hold their nerve, La Naranja Mecánica’s surprise withdrawal giving them a little breathing space at the top.
    Eventually O’Neill’s Celtic’s pass-and-move triumphed over Atlético Cero’s tiki-taka as they clinched a third championship in four years with 25 wins from 28 games. FC Británico held off the challenge from Barones de la Birra and a late surge from Los Lobos to finish first in the second division and lift their first IFL silverware. Fixture congestion meant the final of the league cup between Santana and Atlético Cero had to be postponed until this month and the tie will now serve as the curtain raiser for the new season.


Away from home   
The IFL went on the road in May when nine teams travelled to Granada to compete along with three local sides for the International Cup. The other O’Neill’s team, United, romped to victory and retained the trophy they won last year in Barcelona, but anyone in the bars and clubs of Granada that weekend would have struggled to distinguish which team was celebrating success.
    The new Freshly Squeezed Cup, named after the Madrid-based stand up and improvisation comedy group sponsoring the big open summer tournament, took place on a hot Saturday in June just as the European Championships got underway. FC Copenbadly and FC Británico impressed on their way to the semis, but the usual suspects of Atlético Cero and O’Neill’s Celtic squeaked through to the final. Cero came out on top and went some way to avenging their surrendering of the league. The rest know who it is they have to beat in 2012-13.

 

How to Get Involved

Entering a new team or joining the league as a new player is as easy as sending an email with the subject IFL NEW TEAM / IFL NEW PLAYER to lewis [dot] carroll [at] honeywell [dot] com
As well as football, there is an IFL Squash League, which is always looking for new players. Those interested should send an email to the address above.

FC Británico
For an 11-a-side English-speaking football club, look no further than FC Británico, who play in Group Seven of Madrid’s tercera regional league. This year will be the club’s 40th anniversary, a record of which they are justly proud, and a number of celebratory events are being planned.
    Last season was full of peculiarities—after a poor start and a struggle during the early part, the club managed to win its final three games, finishing in 13th position and steering clear of relegation. It was certainly a “win or lose” approach—Británicos were the only club not to draw a single game—but their respectable strike rate (59 goals) for the lower teams was undone by defensive leaks, having conceded 107. They’ll be looking for improvement in 2012-13 in their objective to climb the Spanish league pyramid.
    Británicos are always looking for new players, and because they operate four clubs (1st team, 2nd team, Futbol Sala team and Veterans), they are able to take on players of all levels. See http://fcbritanico.com/ for contact details.

League Results Table: (Click to Enlarge)

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