Eduardo Galeano, prolific writer from Montevideo, 80 km. from the village of Cristhian Stuani, Tala, once wrote that a man can change his partner, political party or religion during his life, “but he cannot change his football team”. Girona, however, continues to show that it is possible, winning fans everywhere: on the outer wall of the Gol Nord de Montilivi there is already the logo of the Penya Gironina Vall del Ges, presented last year. Based in Sant Vicenç de Torelló (Osona), it is the first to be born outside the province of Girona, apart from those in Dubai (Arab Emirates) and Kerala (India). “We want to go little by little and with lead feet, because we are a little afraid that it will get out of hand to be the first in central Catalonia. When we opened Instagram, a person from Manresa wrote to us in case we took buses to the matches”, points out the president, Alejandro Blanco, pointing out the passion abroad for Girona, because it comes from Oviedo. In the crowd there are also fans from Barça, Espanyol, Madrid and even Liverpool. Girona is already the first team of the majority. So will it soon for those who still doubt.
In the plural, Blanco affirms that his approach to Girona has taken place in a “not very romantic way. Relationships usually start with a super romantic time where you are super in love. And then everything goes downhill. Our history with Girona is completely the other way around. Everything is going up”. He explains that they already sympathized with Girona and that, with their first promotion to the elite, they approached Montilivi because it is cheaper and easier to buy tickets and become a member and season ticket holder, because it is closer than Barcelona and there are no queues and because it’s easier to park. “It’s attractive to have First Division football next to home.”
Girona gradually seduced and captivated them, almost without noticing it. “Almost unintentionally, you end up falling in love with it. Until one day you wake up and realize you’re already from Girona”, admits Guillem Llach, also a supporter of Espanyol. In fact, he is a member of Girona and not of Espanyol. “I consider myself a fan of both clubs, but I prefer Girona more and more. Especially when I go to Montilivi. The atmosphere, the climate and the heat you breathe are different. In the Espanyol field, I feel less and less identified, less represented. I enjoy the Girona field more. Everything is more familiar, closer: you feel more like a protagonist, like in the field. It’s more like going to see your town’s team”, he reflects.
Llach lived in Montilivi in the 3-1 against Córdoba in the semi-finals of the 2015-16 play-off, the final lost to Osasuna. Many of them had already been to Montilivi before becoming members. Arnau Pérez was on the field in the 3-1 win over Dépor that served to confirm his stay in 2014. He believes that what made him fall in love with Girona is that it is “smaller, more human. It’s not like being a member of Barça, where there are millions of people. Girona is more modest football, although it is also part of the modernity of football. It’s important to keep the essence because, if not, people distance themselves».
Gerard Mas admits that “certainly” he is already more of Girona than of Liverpool. “In 2017 we said ‘go, members and seats’. You can call us trolleybusters», he laughs. “We did the two years of Primera. And the three years of Second we have continued to come, suffering December nights. You no longer do this because it’s easy, practical and cheap, but because you feel like you’re from Girona for real,” he says.
They emphasize that the players, of close character, have played a key role in the conversion. Nayra Munmany says: “It’s much easier to empathize with people like that. You see that when the games are over Terrats goes to Jovent Gironí and you think that three years ago he could have been there. And you say to yourself ‘my cousin knows how to play football and he could end up perfectly at Girona’. Or my little brother. They are normal people. It is not as elitist and classist as Barça, so far away. There are stars who are on another level: they don’t even look like people, with so much marketing.” She comes from Barça. “I’m still from Barça too. I live with both. Four years ago I would have come with the Barça shirt on the day, but now that I have suffered sub-zero games and without goals in mid-January I have said that I will not wear one. I feel that I love this club».
In this sense, Blanco concludes that “we come from different clubs, but we have a team in common, Girona. It’s as if we came from different paths and found ourselves in Girona, a meeting point. We started by matching in the stands, then we started going on trips together to optimize cars and we ended up making a rock: something to encourage the team and grow the club and to meet, to be together, to share Girona, in Montilivi and in away games. Football is very good sportingly, but in the social aspect it is a pass.’ He points out that before Girona was the second team of many and “now it’s the other way around”. And he shares his case: “I am 49% from Oviedo and 51% from Girona. Because I’m from Oviedo because I was born there. But I could choose Girona. Girona is the team you choose, for the friends, for the feeling».