As you guys have seen recently, Blogtalk Radio’s Yellow Card Podcast with PTFC’s Chris Gluck and Stephen Brandt, has made it’s debut on the site. You all have read the musing of Chris. I’m Stephen Brandt the host of Yellow Card.
Sometime around the end of last year, Euan McTear messaged me saying that he loves the podcast, and has a book out he wanted to talk about. As a soccer book lover (ask the guys at Booked! how many of my books are there), I was happy to hear that someone from Belfast was listening to a podcast based out of my bedroom in Buffalo, New York.
The book Eibar The Brave is one of the best books that has been written on the game in a while. As a side note, I’ve never read much, or paid any attention to La Liga or Spain, since I’m not someone who follows all the shiny things. Eibar is the perfect book for someone who doesn’t want to read about El Classico every three words.
Talking about the other clubs in La Liga is a fine way to develop a greater interest in the sport. While Barcelona and Real Madrid get all the media attention, a small club like Eibar is very fun to read about. Euan sat down with me to discuss the book, Eibar, and where does he go from here:
1) Can you explain why Eibar had to extend the Share Issue?
They had to do so because there is a rule in Spain which requires all professional clubs to have a social capital which is the value of that of 25% of the average of all clubs minus the largest two and bottom two. Eibar was so small that they didn’t meet that figure and had to raise €1.7million to get there.
2) What made you so interested in Spanish Soccer?
I lived in Barcelona for a year a couple of years ago and loved the idea that you could go watch football in the sun, rather than the Scottish rain as I’d been used to. Little did I know that it’s just as rainy in the Basque County, the place where I’d end up watching most of my Spanish football.
3) The Scottish connection with Eibar, can you explain it?
Basically, the main fan group called itself Scotland The Brave, but in Basque. So they are Eskozia La Brava. They just celebrated their 15th year anniversary this past weekend and they have made several trips to Scotland in their time as a fan club while several Scottish fans have made the trip to Eibar. The club played Celtic in a pre-season friendly last summer and the Scottish relationship has developed even further since then, with the Scottish parliament even welcoming members of Eskozia La Brava to a meeting.
4) What part of the book/story was the most interesting to you?
The finances of the club were particularly interesting to me. In Spain, there are too many football clubs that gamble on success and end up deep in debt when those gambles don’t pay off. Eibar is a club that never spends more than it earns and I admire that sustainable attitude.
5) When you wrote this book, Eibar was relegated, was it hard to write/interview people going through the tough part of the season?
It was particularly tough to write the ending of the book, given the amount of uncertainty surrounding Eibar’s status in the division. There was a chance they would stay up, with Elche demoted instead for financial irregularities, but the process was lengthy and complicated, which delayed the writing of the final chapter. Fortunately, it ended up being a happy ending for Eibar.
6) Eibar wears the same colors and strip that Barca does, can you explain a little bit why?
The reason for that is that in 1943 when Eibar didn’t have a kit to play in, the local federation gifted Eibar some Barcelona kits to wear for their matches. The colours stuck and it was a great moment to see Barcelona have to travel to Eibar last season in their orange kits because Eibar was the one wearing the blue and maroon.
7) After this book was finished, what were some of the surprising things about the club that you came away with?
I learned that this is a very community-based club and that the players often interact with the local people. Some of the interaction they have with the town would simply be unthinkable at many other clubs.
8) Could you see in other leagues, a club like Eibar happening?
I think we are already starting to see that small clubs across Europe with a clear recruitment policy and an ethos of hard work are enjoying unprecedented success. Leicester in the Premier League is one example of how money doesn’t always win.
9) What was your favorite part of this whole project?
My favorite part was interviewing and meeting the club’s fans. They are some of the most passionate football fans I’ve met and they became friends rather than just interviewees.
10) What’s next for Euan McTear?
I’m still following Eibar even though the book is finished and I’m still following and writing about Spanish football in general. I’m always on the lookout for publications looking to up their coverage of Spanish football, which is becoming more and more popular. I’ll always be tweeting out my thoughts and writing on Spanish football on Twitter at @emctear.
Catch Yellow Card Podcast on Tuesday’s 7-8:30pm Eastern Standard Time.