By James Bryce
IT was a match billed as ‘the matadors against the minnows’, and the 7-0 scoreline did nothing to suggest otherwise.
But the game will nevertheless go down in folklore for everyone connected to English non-league side Havant & Waterlooville after their unexpected pre-season friendly against Spanish side Real Betis.
The Hampshire club were forced to step in for neighbours Portsmouth FC – Betis’s intended opponents – who were left stranded in the US after a catering truck crashed into their plane.
The Football Conference South club had just 30 hours to finalise the details, and sent a guide to lead the Real Betis team coach to their Westleigh Park ground – nestled between a housing estate and a skate park.
The match was watched by 800 supporters, including three dozen enthusiastic Betis fans, who sipped beers as their team enjoyed a comfortable win, having led 5-0 at half time.
The newly promoted Sevilla-based side will soon be playing the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid, while the postmen and builders of Havant & Waterlooville will pit their wits against Boreham Wood and Basingstoke.