Monday, 29 September 2014

The Long Way Back for Deportivo La Coruna

Ten years on from reaching the Champions League semi-final, Deportivo La Coruna, the first La Liga champions of the 21st century, are aiming to re-establish themselves in Spain’s top flight after a decade of struggle.

“They were big,” wrote Sid Lowe of Deportivo La Coruna in 2011. “For a while, they were amongst the biggest.”

How quickly we forget.

We forget a team from the provincial north-west of Spain that didn’t just catch up with Barcelona and Réal Madrid, but often surpassed them; a team with Valerón, Makaay, Rivaldo and Bebeto among its alumni. We forget a team that won major competitions, and won them in style. We forget that once upon a time, they called Deportivo La Coruna “Super Depor”, and for good reason.

Now, they are no longer “Super Depor”; just plain old “Depor”.

Football Against The Tide: The Italian Islands

Unlike the languages of the other major Italian islands, the Venetian dialect considers the word for the sea, mar, to be feminine. Each year, on Ascension Day, the Venetians marry the sea, symbolically making it their property, and all its possessions – its dowry – their own. Ultimately, from their betrothal to the waves, they gained an empire. So it was that Venice developed a very different relationship with its mar than islands like Sardinia and Sicily did with their own màre and mari

For Venice, the water that surrounded it was both the protector and the one in need of protection. “They wrapped the sea around them like a cloak,” writes Roger Crowley in City of Fortune: How Venice Won and Lost a Naval Empire. But to those other great islands, exposed in the open Mediterranean rather than tucked away in a corner of the Adriatic, the sea brought invaders; rapacious mainlanders out to superimpose their own culture over that of the islanders. While Venice harassed the mainland, in the process establishing colonies as far afield as Israel and Egypt, the mainland harassed Sardinia and Sicily.