The game starts in Vallecas and the fans of the Vallecano Ray introduces himself: “We are the fans, The most anarchists, the most drunk, the most anti-fascists…! ”. The red and white flags are waved next to the scarves, in that small stadium decorated with proletarian slogans. A face of Che Guevara appears on a Cuban flag, as if it were an idol of the club, but it is Che, in force in this corner of Madrid. The fans, the one that already waits for Falcao García, raise your voice in every game, proud of her team and her working-class neighborhood.
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Lightning is that, a working class neighborhood. Or the working class neighborhood is Rayo. They are body and heart. They are pick and shovel. This neighborhood located in the southwest of Madrid, in Spain, is a humble, working-class stronghold, where left-wing ideas coexist with football. It is a neighborhood that fights for ideals, and where they talk about anti-racism and anti-fascism With the same intensity with which they talk about the Rayo game system, which was founded almost 100 years ago, in 1924.
The Vallecas stadiumSmall and cozy, it is an extension of that neighborhood. It is like your central courtyard. Where there are no fans, but workers’ neighbors, comrades in struggle, and almost all – not all – with rebellious ideas. Some helmet and overalls ideas. With a clenched fist held high. And almost all – not all – with few resources, with social shortcomings. Vallecas is a resistance that proclaims its proletarian struggle, especially if there is a party, then the neighborhood shouts: “¡¡We are workers, we will be workers, and we will always encourage our Ray! ”.
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Juan Jiménez Mancha is a fan of Rayo. 12 years ago he has been a subscriber. He continues with devotion to the club, and although he was not born in Vallecas, he knows in detail its history of rebellion and football. He is an archivist, librarian and museologist. And author of the book The origins of Ray. Nobody like him to portray the history of this neighborhood.
Vallecas has always been a worker and Rayo has been the emblem of Vallecas
“The worker identity has always had it, that is unquestionable. Vallecas was first a town and, since 1950, a neighborhood that was divided into two districts: Villa de Vallecas and Puente de Vallecas. But the two make up Vallecas and it belongs to humble and hard-working people. As in all workers’ places, there are also people who have money, and some even a lot, but Vallecas is a humble neighborhood. In the Vallecas stadium there are many boys with very fair wages. Logical there is everything, you do not have to generalize, but there is a lot of humility in youth. Vallecas has always been a worker and Rayo has been the emblem of Vallecas ”, says Juan.
He assures that before there were many masons, mechanics, people who built their own houses, who were short and which are called ‘palomeras’. They were passionate about football, they played in the street, in the open fields, they just had to put two stones and have a ball. This is how the soccer passion of the Vallecas worker grew. And in one of those streets, one day, Rayito was born.
This has always been a neighborhood of social movements, of trade unions, of fierce proletarian struggles for a dignified life, a refuge for many migrants. A ‘little Russia’, they called it at the time.
Juan doesn’t like to generalize. He affirms that today the neighborhood has its middle class, and people who earn well, even people on the right, but most are still workers. “It is a neighborhood that likes to feel like a worker. Some carry that word with more pride. The workers’ struggle began in Madrid and the first neighborhood association was born in 1968, in Vallecas. The neighborhood fight also started in Vallecas. At the time of Francisco Franco, in Vallecas there were many protests due to the lack of decent housing ”, dice.
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It is not an industrial center, Vallecas is more of a family business area, with its little shops, its cafes and its bars. A neighborhood that over the years went from self-built houses to more elaborate houses, many in brick, although humble and old facades still prevail. There are also buildings that were giving it a touch of modernity and, at the same time, of social contrast.
On the way to the Vallecas stadium, along Avenida de la Albufera, the main commercial artery, or along the famous Calle del Payaso Fofó (who was a renowned TV comedian honored on the asphalt and on a plaque), or simply through the narrow corridors pedestrians, ideals are felt and read. ‘Love Lightning, hate racism’That’s what those walls say in this multicultural neighborhood where even the houses shout their slogans.
When Rayo first rose to the first division in the 1955-56 season, it was made up of hard-working, amateur players. One of his figures of yesteryear, Manuel Peñalva, who was a forward, was also an alfalfa delivery man, he would go out in his truck to distribute and then go to score his goals. Juan points out that the club has not always had leaders from the left. He comments that during the Franco regime there were presidents who were Francoists. However, it states that The ideology of the Vallecanos was always respected in the club.
Juan is a regular attendee at the Vallecas stadium, which holds about 15,000 people. It is located very close to the radical fans, known as Bukaneros, because he feels that from there, at the back of the stadium, the whole team and the entire neighborhood throb. He calls it the lung of Vallecas. That’s where they wait for Falcao. Is that this modest team He hasn’t had a tiger on the loose in that neighborhood.
The fans are aware of the financial limitations, but they do not bow their heads before the might of Real Madrid or Atlético, the giants of the city. In this working-class neighborhood, pride is a barricade, the stars are its slogans, its values are its fervor and loyalty. This hobby expects more fighting than technique from its players. And they encourage the same, or more, when the team has been at its worst, in the second division or on the verge of disappearing. Its Vallecas workers always stay, and fight.
It is difficult to see such cooperation of the fans in another club. Last December they held a food collection activity for the most needy in the neighborhood. The staff was added with donations. In 2012 there was a great mobilization to help a renowned fan, Carmen, who had lost her home. It is that the neighborhood never leaves. And in 2016 the team’s shirt was very striking, which instead of the red stripe (copied from River Plate) wore a multicolored stripe, with the rainbow of sexual diversity. “The fans are concerned about people, and they are exemplary, focused on helping others for humanitarian causes,” says Juan.
“Our revolutionary ray … “the Rayo fans roar from the back of the stadium. It is one of the popular songs in the fans and the lyrics correspond to a theme of the Spanish group SKA-P, which has already made two songs for the club and they became unofficial anthems, also gave the team international popularity. It is a tune that speaks of anti-fascism, anti-racism and anarchism.
This account has always been more Blaugrana than letting the best player in the world go and staying with Umtiti and Lenglet, but Rayo Vallecano is a lovable club.
Neighborhood, worker and popular. ⚡⚡
— Rojrezuz ???????????? (@aianarcru) September 1, 2021
Through music and culture, the Rayo hobby has become known as a particular hobby, which does not tolerate right wing ideas. When the club signed the Ukrainian footballer in 2017 Roman Zozulya, the fans reacted with fury, accusing him of having neo-Nazi ties. The footballer lasted just 37 days at the club and did not play for a minute. This is how things are in Vallecas.
Olivier Lorenzo, a journalist for the Spanish newspaper ‘El País’, comments: “In the last 20-25 years, the fans have become politicized, they have proclaimed themselves ‘the neighborhood team’, and their most radical sector has presented itself as a anti-fascist team. The arrival of Falcao has been a surprise for everyone, compared the humility of the team with the status of the player, ”he says.
What if the entire crowd is leftist and anti-fascist? Juan considers that the political position of the left is majority but not unanimous. “Today a high percentage are leftist or progressive people, anti-fascists as they say, but it is not everything. There is a part of the fans that is apolitical and another part that is not very big that is right wing. Because in Vallecas there are also people who vote for the right, ”he says.
Flags are waved, voices are raised, fists are raised. The working class fans of Vallecas are up in the fight, making the neighborhood their club. To that scenario of vindication and resistance It is where Falcao arrives to lay his brick and join this work force called Rayo Vallecano.
Editor of EL TIEMPO
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