“Who would have told them no?”
There was a time when a night watchman walked around the Camp Nou who, with the help of a dog, took care of the stadium and was approached by the most diverse characters of the Barcelona nightlife, such as a newlywed couple who asked to celebrate the wedding in the South Goal area. The copulation was held in privacy in exchange for a good tip so that the guard would cross the barrier, turn a blind eye and not tell the story until a few years later when a journalist made the discovery and asked him about the anecdotes lived in the Camp Nou.
“Once a couple asked me to let them in and I couldn’t refuse because they were both still wearing their suits and seemed to have just left the banquet after going down the aisle,” said the man who guarded the stadium when there were no cell phones. , oral tradition prevailed and things were told –without knowing if they were true or false– to the satisfaction of an apprentice in the trade who at the beginning of the eighties dreamed of making a career from the life of the Camp Nou. That familiarity still endures in some way in the bowels of the Barça field.
It will be very difficult for Barcelona fans to reach Montjuïc because it is far away, because it is an Olympic stadium rather than a football one, because it is uncomfortable and cold and above all because of the laziness of having to temporarily leave the Camp Nou and not the Nou Camp. It is not a minor detail for the culé community that presumes precisely that its cathedral, inaugurated on September 24, 1957, the festival of La Mercè, has not been baptized or personified –although it has been marketed under the name of Spotify– after prohibiting that will bear the name of the founder Gamper.
Better Camp Nou, like Les Corts before or now the Palau Blaugrana, as a meeting point for the Barça family in keeping with the spirit of the Cant del Barça and the cry of “Barça, Barça, Barça”. Musicality and bombast prevail over intimidation and force in a stadium with a unique visibility for the spectator and that does not end for the footballer when he looks at the stands from the grass before the field draw in which The Barça captain will ask, whenever he wins, to attack in the second half towards the Gol Nord.
Substitute Sergi Roberto scored the sixth goal against PSG in the Diagonal goal, which is the opposite of Travessera de Les Corts, where the third tier of the Camp Nou has already been demolished. The levitation of Messi in that background was immortalized by the camera of Santiago Garcés in 2017. The European comebacks are especially remembered since that 3-0 that Zuviría scored against Anderlecht (1979) or Pichi Alonso’s triplet against Goteborg (1986). Just as unexpected was Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final.
The stadium has also been the scene of the inauguration of the 1982 World Cup or the Olympic final won by Spain in 1992. The best football figures have come to the Barça field with their teams or national teams, such as Pelé. It is already known that Di Stéfano wore the Barça shirt before signing for Madrid and that Maradona, Cruyff and Messi have starred in unique matches at the Camp Nou. No one forgot Flaco’s foreshortening against Reina in 1973, nor Evaristo’s header in 1960 that eliminated Madrid from the European Cup for the first time.
It doesn’t matter. 𝗟𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗼 𝗱𝗲 𝗳𝘂𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗼.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona_es) May 22, 2023
Astonishing were Kubala’s technical gestures when playing in slow motion and fiendish were flying ace Cruyff’s changes of pace since football picked up speed with A Clockwork Orange. No one accelerated and braked like Maradona –killed in La Mercè in 1983–, nor cut back like Messi since that Maradona play against Getafe. There is a generation hypnotized by Ronaldinho and there are also those who claim Rivaldo’s goals and kick, Romario’s cow tails, Koeman’s beating, the ball of fire that was Ronaldo or Stoichkov’s fierceness. Many revolutionary forwards triumphed at the Camp Nou.
The goals are always remembered, just as the mistakes or the tears of the goalkeepers used to be more present than their saves –Vitor Baía began to cry in that 5-4 Cup win against Atlético–, even though they are very present Víctor Valdés, Urruti or Zubizarreta. The Camp Nou has been a very exquisite stadium, capable of applauding the intention rather than the execution of Lo Pelat’s passes and excessively passionate when he felt betrayed by Figo. A pig’s head remains as a souvenir that still makes many people from Barça blush.
God is Christ was also set up when Guruceta penalized a foul by Rife against Velázquez outside the area in 1970. Cup match against Atlético because the Barça team appeared with only 10 players as a protest against the Federation’s decision not to suspend the event despite coinciding with national team matches on a FIFA date. A match was even played behind closed doors by Barça’s own decision.
It happened in full process, on October 1, 2017, the date of the Catalan anti-constitutional referendum, when Barça faced Las Palmas in a league match. Although the agreement of the board agreed to its suspension, in the end it was held without an audience after President Bartomeu met with the players in the Camp Nou locker room. There was fear on the one hand of an invasion of the pitch and on the other of sanctions from the League. The Barca president took the middle path and Valverde’s team won 3-0.
The condition of “more than a club”, and its link with the Catalan institutions, always weighed on the Camp Nou. The events of the 75th anniversary showed that Barça was an entity committed to the recovery of democracy in the country and to the defense of Catalanness (1974). The symbolic charge and the incorporation of the immigrant population were essential to understand the dimension of Barcelona. The Camp Nou shuddered in a Barça-Madrid game and also knew how to keep silent in solemn acts such as the mass for John Paul II in 1982.
The latest emotions have been experienced with the successes of the women’s team, which gathered a record number of 91,648 spectators in their match in March last year against Wolfsburg, 95 more than in the previous match against Real Madrid -the maximum attendance was recorded in 1986 with 120,000 fans in a European Cup match against Juventus. The joys have been many – few comparable to the 5-0 against Madrid, the Dream Team leagues and the matches of Guardiola’s team – compared to the disappointments: the European elimination against Leeds in 1975 was also unforgettable.
Much more socially painful was the minute of silence that the Boixos Nois imposed in 1997 in a match against Atlético due to the death of one of its members against Atlético and surprising was the invasion of the Eintracht fans in the Europa League event in April of 2022 when more than 30,000 Germans took the Camp Nou before the helplessness of a few thousand Barça fans. The subscription and ticket sales policy requires adjustments, as has also been seen with the prices forecast for next season at Montjuïc.
Barça aspires to return to the new Camp Nou in November 2024. The walls of the old stadium hurt and the ticket offices no longer respond to the commercial needs required by a club like Barcelona. Today more seats are needed for paying spectators and many illuminated boxes so that the wealthy can celebrate ostentatious banquets that have nothing to do with those weddings that culminated furtively in the South Goal after bribing the night watchman hired by Barça. A luxurious television set has replaced that exciting darkness of the Camp Nou.
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