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Season 2001-02
 Recreativo De Huelva (a) Friendly match
Date: Thursday 8th November 20.55 UK time 
(21.55 in Spain, ko was scheduled for 21.00) 

Venue: Nuevo Colombino stadium

Conditions: Locals in coats, geordies in shorts.

Admission: from £4 upwards, no programme.

Recreativo De Huelva

3 - 0 Newcastle United


Half time: Huelva 0 Newcastle Reserves 0

61 mins
Huelva captain Pavon shot from 12 yards, steered low past Brain's left hand.  1-0

77 mins
second for Pavon, this time a curling right footed effort from the edge of the box leaving Brain with no chance. 3-0 

90 mins
Gary Caldwell dragged down the Recreativo no.7 and the home side took a quick free-kick leaving their substitute, Canterla, one-on-one with Brain. He slipped it under the keeper's body to complete the scoring.  3-0  

Full time: Huelva 3 Newcastle Reserves 0

We said

Coach Tommy Craig commented:

"While we were beaten in Spain I was delighted with their attitude to the game and in particular their self discipline, bearing in mind some strange decisions. The referee turned the game into a farce.

"I would really like to play that team again, only this time with the rules being applied to both sides."



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Captains Toon Team Huelva


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mackems SJH singers


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main stand

fireworks 1

fireworks 2


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A disappointing evening from a footballing point of view as Newcastle arrived in Huelva with only their normal reserve side, coached by Tommy Craig and presided over by Sir John Hall. After the much-publicised departures of four senior players, initial thoughts were that something of a siege mentality had enveloped the club. 

However it later emerged that a certain lack of appreciation of the distance between Huelva and the team's Marbella base (4 hours+ by coach) meant that the non-essential members of the party declined to travel. More surprisingly Robson was also absent, despite his high profile in Spain.

First impressions of Huelva when arriving by train was that we were en-route to the Andalucian equivalent of Middlesbrough. However, once clear of the industrial wastelands and away from the station, the town revealed itself to be a pleasant enough spot.

As for the ground, the siting and construction of the new stadium were reminiscent of the Columbus Crew ground we visited on the USA tour, mostly open bleacher-type stands, built on a brownfield site on the outskirts of town. A quick check of the ground revealed that it was far from finished, and while the areas round the pitch were complete, much exterior work remained to be done. The piles of building materials and holes everywhere seemed to confirm that the Spanish equivalent of a safety certificate is more easily acquired than in the UK.

Before the kickoff a seemingly endless procession of local dignitaries gave speeches from the pitch, and numerous presentations of gifts and a gathering of old players were enlivened first by flamenco singers and guitarists and then a firework display of such scale that many of the local townsfolk who didn't go to the game were able to enjoy it from a few miles away. 

Toon fans were thin on the ground, but once access was gained through the chaos that passed for security and turnstiles, a few were spotted including representatives from Madrid and Gibraltar. Inevitably a couple of hard core travellers from the North East were also on hand, and were warmly welcomed by the locals, who were in the mood to celebrate anything.

At last the teams took the field to get the game underway, Huelva led out by the fantastic club mascot, what can only be described as an old codger with a walking stick. As the various youth and reserve teams finally made their way from the field, the match began at a little before 10pm local time. match notes

After recording a 3-1 away win the previous evening to move into 3rd place in the Second Division, Huelva rested many of their first team players and gave squad members a runout, along with a couple of youngsters. However, it's fair to say we were the less experienced of the two sides.    

Little of note in the first 30 minutes, although a home free-kick did rattle Jon Brain's bar and the young keeper also made a fine save. The home keeper is so far untested as the new pitch cuts up badly in the middle.

37 minutes: a flowing four man move down the right saw Green release McMenamin on goal only for an offside flag to halt the young Scot in his tracks.

41 minutes: Kerr played McMenamin in again, the keeper dived at his feet and claimed McMenamin had kicked him in the nose! The keeper reacted angrily and Mark Boyd had to act as peacemaker. 

61 minutes: 1-0

62 minutes: Almost an instant response as Gary Caldwell headed in, but the goal was chalked off for an alleged push. By now it was becoming obvious that the referee wasn't going to spoil Huelva's night.

68 minutes: low cross from the right and a good first time effort from Kerr was saved by the keeper on the line.

69 minutes: Quinn almost brings United back into it with two efforts - one blocked, one saved and Gary Caldwell has another header clawed away by keeper, Luque.

77 minutes: 2-0

80 minutes: United are tiring as the game draws to a close, having no more subs on the bench. Linesmen appear to have gone home, leaving Huelva to wander forward at will, knowing no flags will be raised.

90 minutes: 3-0 

With Mexican waves lapping the ground in the latter stages the atmosphere has to be described as carnival, but increasing numbers of empty seats showed that many locals had come for the occasion, and some didn't even bother returning after the half time interval.

The final whistle blew at around 11.40pm, but of course the civilised local licencing laws mean that an extended post-match discussion could be indulged in with the locals over a top class pint of Guinness. While the game itself was forgettable, the few mags who made the trip were made welcome by the people of Huelva, even if they did think we were a bit loco to be there in the first place. 

In conclusion, the only positive thing to have come out of this trip from a Newcastle perspective was that no new injuries were picked up. In every other department it was a bit of a waste - a scratch team for an admittedly meaningless game showed contempt for our hosts, and we managed to generate some more bad publicity for the club both at home and abroad. 

I hope the lads enjoyed their golf.

Match report from  
(Spanish sports paper) Thanks to Julio for translation.

The Englishmen took home a beating (3-0)

Recreativo christen the Nuevo Colombino with a victory over Newcastle

"Two goals from youth player Pavon and a third from academy player Canterla gave Recreativo victory over Newcastle in the inaugural match at their Nuevo Colombino stadium, which was filled with 20,000 fans.

"The game, served as the trial for the Spain-Mexico match on November 14, the day on which the stadium is set to officially open. The game was dominated by the blues, although it was not until after the break that they completed their win.

"Pavon gave signs of his intentions in the 4th minute, after sending a shot to the post from a free kick. Recreativo smothered the English side's attempts to come forward and even arrived with danger to Brain's goal, although they lacked accuracy in the final yards.

"However, after the break, and with the arrival of Bautista onto the pitch, Recreativo dominated their rivals, and despite scoring 3 goals in those 45 minutes, they could have managed a thrashing.

"Bautista warned twice, in the 57th and 58th minutes, with two shots shortly before Pavon opened the scoring with a powerful shot with his left foot. The English side, however, could have equalised only three minutes later, but the referee disallowed Green's goal, accusing the player of fouling while he was jumping for the ball.

"Recreativo kept increasing their dominance over the English side with quick counter attacks, and again Pavon sentenced the match in the 67th minute after smashing in a dead ball in the box. Academy player Canterla added the final touch to a magical night when he took advantage of a quick free kick by Batista and sent a low shot past Brain in a one-on-one when the match was reaching its end.

"Inaugural match of the Nuevo Colombino stadium, which was preceded with performances from local artists, and paid homage to Riotinto Balompie, the cradle of Spanish football (being one of the first football clubs in Spain), as well as presentations and gifts from Real Madrid, Barcelona, Betis and the government of Huelva.
"Mayor Pedro Rodriguez had the honorary kick-off." 

PS - Biffa would like to thank everyone who helped make the trip a success - Varyl for sorting the tickets, Jesus and his mate for ferrying us around Huelva, Antonio in the Irish pub and all of his friendly customers - cheers for the Guinness, the t-shirts and the warm welcome. 

As was said in the early hours of Saturday, please come to visit Newcastle, but don't forget your coats!


Page last updated 14 July, 2016