To begin with I need to start with a recap of the play-off rules. The eighteen group winners of the Spanish third division are drawn into a two-legged series and the nine winners are then automatically promoted to the Segunda División B. The nine losing clubs then enter the play off round for the last nine promotion spots. The eighteen runners-up are drawn against one of the seventeen fourth-place clubs outside their group and the eighteen third-placed clubs are drawn against one another in a two-legged series. The twenty-seven winners then advance with the nine losing clubs from the champions’ series to determine the eighteen teams that will enter the last two-legged series for the last nine promotion spots.
Real Ávila finished in fourth spot in group 8 and therefore had to face a runner-up from one of the other groups. This year for the first leg they were drawn against Almeria from Andalusia group 9. After a disappointing 0-0 draw at home on 24th May the teams drew 1-1 in the second leg and Ávila went through on the away goals rule. For the second leg they were drawn against even tougher opposition, RSD Alcalá from the Community of Madrid who this year were the runaway winners of division 7 but had lost the chance of automatic promotion after losing in the opening round of games to table topping Villajoyosa (near Benidorm) from Valencia so were now playing for one of the final promotion places in the second round of games.
It started well enough when on 7th June and playing at home Real Ávila won the first leg 1-0 and things looked promising but in the second away leg the wheels fell off and the home side ran out 5-2 winners, which means Ávila have now played in the play off finals four times in the last five years and never succeeded in winning promotion and are going to have to wait until next year for a another opportunity.
Alcalá de Henares, meaning Citadel on the river Henares, is a Spanish university city with a UNESCO World Heritage Site historical centre that sounds an interesting sort of place and may well have to go onto the travel itinerary next time in Spain. It is located in the Autonomous Community of Madrid, thirty-five kilometres northeast of the city of Madrid, at a height of five hundred and ninety metres above sea level and it has a population of around two hundred thousand, the second largest of the region after the Spanish capital itself.
Interesting facts about Alcalá are that as the birthplace of Henry VIII’s first wife Catherine of Aragon, it is twinned with the English city of Peterborough which is where she is buried in the Cathedral there. The author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes was born there in 1547 and there is an annual literary prize giving ceremony awarding the Cervantes Prize which is the Spanish-speaking world’s most prestigious award for lifetime achievement in literature and so important that it is presented by the King of Spain himself.
We saw a lot of storks in Spain especially in Ávila and Segovia and Alcalá too is well-known for its population of white storks. Their large nests can be observed on top of many of the churches and historic buildings in the city, and are themselves a significant tourist attraction. Situated in the lowlands of the Henares river, the city is an attractive home for the migratory storks due to the easy availability of food and nesting material in the area.
One not so good thing to be remembered for however is that Alcalá is a commuter town with an excellent high speed rail link to Madrid and it was on the 11th March 2004 and the infamous Madrid train bombings when all the bombs were placed on trains that originated in, or passed through, Alcalá.