The La Liga schedule was confirmed a couple of weeks before our trip, so we secured tickets via the club's website for the main event of our trip, the Real Betis v Athletic Bilbao Sunday afternoon fixture. We also identified a Segunda B (level 3) game at Sevilla Atletico's 7,500 capacity stadium. The stadium is currently known as the Estadio Jesus Navas, named after the nippy winger, formerly with Manchester City and now back at Sevilla.
We had visited a number of Seville's main tourist sites on our previous visit, including the cathedral, the Moorish Alcazer and a tour of the bull ring. Wilkie had identified a site of Roman ruins about 6 kms from the city centre, called Italica, which we would visit on this trip.
On Saturday we took the metro to Pablo de Olavide near the University site for the Seville B game at a smart new stadium, adjacent to Sevilla's extensive training complex. The stadium has been developed on the site of Sevilla's former ground, the Campo Nervion, which they vacated in 1958 when their current stadium was built. Sevilla B, or Sevilla Atletico as they are known, were up against Recreativo Huelva. This was a local derby with the visiting fans well represented and in good voice. We paid 5 Euros at the ticket office for a general entrance ticket (home supporters) and sat in the main covered stand to witness an entertaining game with Huelva running out comfortable 3-1 victory in front of a crowd of 1,400. The game kicked off at midday, so we had time to return to the city and then bus out to the Roman ruin site, Italica.
On Sunday we took a bus to the Betis stadium after visiting the old town in the morning. The Beticos all stood as they held their scarves aloft and sang the Betis club hymn with gusto as the teams took the field. The home side raced into the lead with their first attack after two minutes, veteran Joaquin finishing with aplomb. Betis were three goals up within twenty minutes with Joaquin completing his hat-trick, all excellent finishes following incisive approach play. Bilbao pulled a goal back before half-time, when Williams confidently struck home a penalty, and then wing back Yuri fired home from long range in the second half as the away side fought back from their slow start. There was no more to come from Athletic, Betis emerged victorious in front of a crowd of 46,000.
We were later to find out that Joaquin is the oldest player to score a hat trick at the top level in Spain, the previous record holder was the legendary Argentinian, Alfredo di Stefano.