What is the allure that draws so many towards the Mestalla? We asked John Howden, esteemed sports writer for ‘24/7 Valencia’ and CEO of Cricket España, for his take on the world of Valencia CF at the legendary  stadium. 

24/7 VALENCIA: How did you become involved with VCF?

 JOHN HOWDEN: When I moved to Spain, in 2003, I was keen to watch live football. Pretty soon I took in my first match at the Mestalla and I was captivated by the atmosphere and the eruption of noise when Valencia scored. I was equally moved with the plethora of white flags or hankies after a disappointing performance. The rollercoaster of emotions, only captured  when you are at a match in person, convinced me to become a regular visitor to Valencia’s home matches.

What has been one of your most memorable moments of Valencia FC?

I just missed out witnessing the glory years under Hector Cuper and Rafa Benitez when Valencia regularly went deep in European competitions. The two Copa Del Rey successes in 2008 and 2019 are high on my list of favourite moments. The victory over Real Madrid in the league in 2017 when Zaza and Orellana scored wonderful goals is also etched in my memory, but the pinnacle for me personally was the 7-0 win over Genk in the Champions League in 2011, when Soldado bagged a hat-trick before half-time.

 What does football and specifically Valencia CF mean to you?

The result of a game will literally make or spoil my weekday or weekend, it is that personal. It is an integral part of my life and as much as I do not usually like a tribal mentality, this is the exception to the rule that I am happy to concede to.

What do you think football means to the people of Valencia?

In many cases, similar to the sentiments I feel. The citizens of Valencia are proud of the history of the club and the positive impact it has had on the city. The celebrations outside the Mestalla on Avenida de Suecia after victories in important games, and the way the supporters embraced the last two Copa Del Rey victories celebrating in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento is testament to that.

What makes VFC different from other teams?

It is my team, we win and lose together, and we unite as one through thick and thin. They bring out emotions in me via their actions that no other club can do and it will remain that way forever.

Are there any differences between the Spanish/Valencia approach to football?

This depends on the manager and the owner. A manager like Bordalás had a completely different approach to that of Nuno and Emery. The person in charge depicts the style of play and someone like Gattuso was very “gung-ho” in the early stages of his managerial career at Valencia. Baraja seems to have a good balance between attacking flair and defensive-minded responsibilities. The spat with the owner, Peter Lim and sections of the crowd is well-documented. Lim’s current philosophy is focused on youth, and arguably creating young players to sell on at a large profit (Soler, Ferran, Lee Kang -in and Musah being prime examples). The promotion of youth to first team duties is something that the present manager is a great advocate of… and not many teams in LaLiga adopt that approach to their first team line-ups.

What do you see as the future for Valencia CF?

The saga of the “new” stadium will have a big say in this. If funds are required to complete the venue then it could be at the expense of Valencia’s star players. If the current squad can stay together and they can add one or two experienced campaigners to the team then regular forages into Europe are highly likely. Without further investment and an over focus on the New Mestalla, it is likely that the team will remain in mid-table mediocrity. Hopefully it is the former, but time will tell!


 Report by Sebastian Garraway

Article copyright ‘24/7 Valencia’

Photo  ‘John Howden outside Mestalla’ copyright Sebastian Garraway/ ’24/7 Valencia’

Related Post

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

24/7 Valencia

24/7 Valencia is the definitive English Speaking guide to Valencia. Extensive Listings, up-to-date and informed articles on restaurants, chill out, clubland, football, culture, arts, books, woman and much more.
Languages »

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This