A touch of Toronto in Madrid

I was recently in Spain visiting friends, and managed to time everything perfectly to miss the chance at any live football.

So not having anything better to do with my time or money, I paid 15 euros to tour the Estadio Bernabeu in Madrid. I had the privilege of riding an elevator to the top tier of seats and looking over the pitch, and then riding the same elevator down to actually touch the pitch and sit on the subs’ bench. Other than strolling through Real Madrid’s well-stocked trophy room (more like a hall, really) that was about it.

But it was in the trophy room that I did a double-take when I happened upon a prominently placed display containing this:

Real Madrid trophy case

Toronto in Madrid

Trophy case

Trophy case

I’d never heard of the Toronto City Soccer Club; or that Real Madrid had previously been to Toronto. But thank goodness for Canadian soccer historian Colin Jose.

A quick Google search settled this matter. Turns out Real Madrid hadn’t previously been to Toronto, but they did play against the aforementioned Toronto City Soccer Club on Aug. 25, 1961 in Vancouver. In fact, according to Mr. Jose, the crowd at Empire Stadium that day was bigger than the one at BMO Field this past August by about 4,000.

Toronto City was part of the Eastern Canadian Professional Soccer League, which existed during the first half of the 1960’s.

So that’s that.

In other news from the Bernabeu tour, about midway through, two attractive Spanish girls offer to take your photograph in front of a blue screen while you dangle your left arm in the air, and then superimpose you into a picture hugging any Real Madrid player you want.

“It’s free to look!” one of them said.

I picked Cristiano Ronaldo (Kaka seemed to be a far more popular choice). It turns out that “free to look” really did just mean free to look. I personally wasn’t willing to spend 11 euros for a fake picture of me hugging Cristiano Ronaldo, but a lot of people behind me in line seemed more than up for it. I suppose they have to pay for Galacticos II somehow.

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2 Responses to “A touch of Toronto in Madrid”

  1. Toronto City also featured Danny Blanchflower and Stanley Matthews, of all people. I wrote a bit about them last year: http://www.amoresplendidlife.com/2008/07/when-toronto-pulled-in-stars.html

  2. I wouldn’t pay eleven euros for a picture of me and C-Ron, but I might for a picture of me and Mrs. C-Ron.

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