Rob Hutchison gave us a juicy flavour of the tale of how a few stray Sunderland fans met for a highly partisan evening for Paraguay v Italy, our boys in red and white stripes putting in a show of honest endeavour to snatch an unexpected draw. It wouldn’t be right to let the occasion pass without the main course, served up by Clive Stevenson, who explains the widespread Vamos Paraguay phenomenon among SAFC fans and reveals more of a memorable night out (and its sequel) …
See also: Ha’way Paraguay, Vamos Sunderland
Well, the story started a bit before that Rob, and I wish I could use the old Hot Chocolate lyric It started with a kiss…
… but I’m afraid it started with a deep sense of betrayal and rejection that came with the news that all of us expected, that the striker who scored 24 goals last season, only two behind the bizarre result of an experiment to clone a bulldog with a can of Campbell’s condensed vegetable soup and almost two dozen ahead of a lump of wood, was left out of the England squad.
Those goals came in apparently the greatest league in the world against apparently some of the best players in the world and were scored for obviously a less than perfect product called Sunderland AFC.
In other words this man scores from nothing, and what do England need? Anyway that is more than enough of that particular weeping sore.
So I thought who can I look towards to provide me with a team in the World Cup that isn’t chosen by the Evening Standard? A team to remind me of my own? A plucky team with history, passion and even more passionate supporters? A team in red and white stripes even? Only one candidate…
Paraguay! Plus I can hopefully see the rather classy Paulo Da Silva given a decent spell and run the rule over our new signing Christian Riveros.
Several web searches for the location of the Paraguayan community in London were fruitless, plenty of Brazilians but not a lot of Paraguayans, as did Paraguayan theme pubs, I guess not a crowd puller… until londontown.com came up with “There aren’t many Paraguayans in London but those in the know will head to Nueva Costa Dorada, a Spanish tapas bar in a side street off Tottenham Court Road, for their nation’s group games. Clara Sanchez (she told me her name was Riveros so that may be her middle name, as Christian Riveros’s is Nunez [eek!]), Dorada’s Paraguayan owner, holds an Independence Day party for London’s small Paraguayan community every year in May and she tries to replicate the party atmosphere every four years when the World Cup comes round”. That’ll do nicely I thought.
So me and Lorna, my wife who isn’t into football despite my best efforts but was keen to sample the tapas and drink some wine and see Roque Santa Cruz in his shorts, headed for Hanway Street and Nueva Costa Dorada.
We had arranged to meet with Rob, a fellow Blackcats email list subscriber/contributor (or “Proper Music Rob” as his signature line told me– he has something to do with a music distribution company) and his partner Fran. I had never met either before so he sent me an email saying they hoped to get there together at around 7pm, that he would be in his colours and attached a photo to help. Now given that I only had my BlackBerry and the pic was very small all I could make out was some fellah with black hair.
Into the restaurant and there was a beaming Sunderland shirt wearing bloke to greet us. “Rob?” I asked. “Alreet!” came the expected reply as he shook my extended hand. Blimey I thought to myself clocking his mop of grey hair,
that photo was taken a while ago. Anyway I said “We’ve got a table booked”, and the three of us were ushered into the main part of the restaurant. We sat down at a table with a fine view of the drop-down screen and I asked him, “So what’s this music distribution malarkey then? Surely music is free, you just open your ears and listen”.
An unexpected “Whaaaaat?” came back. “… you’re not Rob are you” I said. “No” came the reply.
The rest of the tale has already been told by the real Rob who arrived with Fran a couple of minutes later, and I didn’t realise until I read his piece on the ALS site, but the Ian of the mop of grey hair I met was Ian Mole,
whose pieces for Wear Down South (which comes with London branch membership) I had read with interest for several years. I did have a lesson in pronunciation from Senora Riveros though. I said: “How’s this Clara… Fuerza Paraguay!”, “No” she said, “it’s Fuerrrrrrrrrrrrrrza Paraguay! You need to roll your Rs”. To be honest, if I could roll my Rs like that I wouldn’t need the talc.
Anyway, we had a fabulous evening with three new friends and hopefully there will be many more to come. At the end of the evening enriched by San Miguel, our metre of tapas and a decent display from el muchachos to earn a good draw with Italy, we were walking back to Tottenham Court Road Tube station when Lorna said: “I’ve met Rob before in a previous life”. Did I mention the wine?
I got taken back to Nueva Costa Dorada for Fathers’ Day and saw the excellent match against Slovakia. The place was even more red & white (Paraguayan red & white that is) and the crowd erupted each time a replay of one of the goals was shown, together with a very polite ripple of applause whenever a Paraguayan player did something particularly good… a little reminiscent of Lords when a pleasing cover drive is played. Another
fabulous session and guess where I’ll be for the New Zealand game?
* Clive insists the dark-haired girl, photographed in South Africa, has a double at the Nueva Costa Dorada. Clara should prepare for some late bookings for the NZ game.