Having married into a family of cradle-to-grave Barcelona supporters, el Barça is naturally one of the main threads in the tapestry of my life here. My sons were carted to the Camp Nou almost before they could walk and talk. During summers in the mountains, I drove 15 kilometres of hairpin bends every day to buy the sports paper with its interminable transfer market sagas. When my father-in-law died intestate, his carnet del Barça caused more fratricidal strife and bitterness than any other piece of real estate.
The one memory that eclipses all others and distils the essence of life here was the European Cup Final that Barça played at Wembley against Sampdoria on May 20th 1992. The city ground to a halt while every household was glued to the TV. Tension rose to heart-attack point with the score at nil-nil. Extra time. At last…Ronald Koeman has a free kick—and scores. Ha guanyat el Barça!!! We all leap onto the balcony, yelling, singing, hugging each other: all around the interior d’illa people are cheering and waving. All night fireworks bang, horns honk…The whole of Catalunya is plunged into days of euphoria.
Our nephew got married two days later, and at the reception, he produced a cassette recorder, raised his glass and hit Play. Goooooooooool!!! The entire dining room exploded in a deafening outburst of cheering and clapping and stamping. We replayed Koeman’s goal again and again and again as the cava flowed—and tears of joy.
First published in the Barcelona Metropolitan February 2009, as part of a series looking back over 35 years in Barcelona.