Both teams were very well covered in a stadium that lived a historic night before the celebration of its centenary
Las Llanas received the best possible tribute just before becoming a centenary in 2023. Sestao was a party throughout the day, with an event that attracted all the eyes of Biscayan football and part of the national one. The image in the stands was unbeatable. Neither the rain nor the fact that it was being played on weekdays prevented it from being completely sold out, with 4,500 fans cheering on both teams in a climate of absolute respect and tremendous emotion. Everyone enjoyed it despite the fact that the result made some smile more than others. It was a magical night that will remain in the retina of the local fans for all its mystique, as well as the visitors, who were able to relive “the football of yesteryear”.
The smell of a derby in style could already be felt many hours before the initial whistle. Sestao was decked out for an event that aroused the excitement of all its inhabitants, such as hosting Athletic. The fact of doing it three years before did not influence the expectation that this meeting raised. It still had the flavor of a single event. Since noon, you could see how the first black-green jackets of Sestao fans who asked for a day off or changed their work shift to enjoy the day in full: eating with the crew, warming up before the game… the occasion deserved it for a town that mobilizes massively by and for the Sestao River.
Meanwhile, at noon there was a friendly lunch at Bodega Charro, a restaurant very close to Las Llanas, between members of both clubs attended by the two presidents, accompanied by their respective boards, as well as the president of the Biscayan Football Federation. Later, in the stands it was possible to see other personalities of Biscayan football, among which the presence of former president Aitor Elizegi, among others, stood out. The streets of the municipality of the Left Bank were becoming more and more populated, with black-green dominance. It was clear that the sestaotarras were going with the town team, despite the fact that many are also supporters of the rojiblanco team.
This was confirmed by ‘Pati’ and Iñaki Peña. Both sestoatarras proudly wore the black-green shirt, despite the fact that they also declare themselves Athletic fans. “Since it is played in Sestao, you have to opt for the people’s team, there is no divided heart today,” said the first. The second commented that he realized that he was more passionate about Sestao River than about the rojiblancos, once he saw them face each other years ago. “That’s when I realized that my heart was green and black,” he adds. The two enjoyed a lot together. “There is a great atmosphere, it’s nice to be friendly with the two hobbies sharing a moment of real football,” they highlighted.
If there were any doubts about the green-black feeling, the welcome to the bus from the local group cleared them up completely. The youngest left their throats at the entrance of the field encouraging them, giving them that last push before a truly special duel for the squad. Hundreds of people made a corridor of flares through which the bus passed, barely being seen from a few meters away, due to the large amount of pyrotechnics. A spectacular sequence that was sure to have its effect on the players. Some could even be seen hitting the windows of the bus, following the chants of the fans. They seemed very motivated.
As soon as the Sestaotarra squad was able to enter their fief, they began to populate all the stands until they were completely full. There wasn’t a pin. In principle, it was expected that they would be fairly even between fans of both teams. However, at first, most of the leading role was taken by the Sestao River, with Las Llanas that received them with constant songs of encouragement. In fact, as soon as the players jumped onto the pitch, fireworks were even set off from one of the streets surrounding the stadium. Difficult to improve the staging. Las Llanas was a “black-green temple”, as one of the many banners that were hung throughout the field stated.
“Soccer of yesteryear”
That did not mean that many Athletic fans came to witness this clash and made themselves noticed. The rojiblancos, mixed with the locals, also occupied one of the entire funds and not even the rain silenced them despite being out in the open. With Raúl García’s first goal, the hundreds of rojiblancos in Las Llanas were discovered and the goal was celebrated effusively. One of them was Rubén Arkoiza, from Bilbao who went to La Pela with his friends from noon. “It’s a very nice environment, football atmosphere of yesteryear,” he highlighted. They were in line for an hour waiting to enter, but they clarified that “it is understood that this situation is beyond them.” Others were forced to enter late and had to watch the first bars of the match on their mobile phones.