The crowd is small, but very passionate. “You fucking son of a bitch”, flies through the air every minute and it comes from adults, children, old grannies and whoever is watching the game. The game is not really that exiting, but the referee makes so many mistakes that it becomes a very entertaining afternoon anyway at the Olhanense football stadium.
Olhanense is a small club with a proud history
I’m in the fishing town in Algarve, in southern Portugal, called Olhao and I have decided to pop by the local football stadium to see a game against a team called Aves that comes from northern Portugal. Olhanense plays in the second division in Portugal. A couple of years ago they were in the best league, but financial difficulties send them down in the lower leagues. It’s a general problem in southern Portugal where the teams do not have the same money that the north portuguese teams have. At the moment not a single team from southern Portugal is in the best league, but back in 1924 Olhanense were champions of Portugal as the first team ever outside Lisbon and Porto, but in 2015 they are playing in the 2 division, but the locals are still very passionate about the team and I get a lot of thumbs up and positive comments from locals after the game when I walk in to a couple of cafes wearing the Olhanense shirt that I bought after the game.
I paid 10€ for a ticket to the game by the way.
Olhanense attracts locals of all ages.
The game ends 0-0 and it’s not the most exiting game, but there are a few nice actions. The referee steals the show at the end though with a lot of wrong calls and he is not the most popular man in Olhao that day, but it’s funny to watch how winded up people are, including an older lady in her 70’s who is screaming and cursing at the referee for several minutes after the game has ended. The crowd is very mixed and there are a lot of children at the stadium that day, maybe because it’s an afternoon game. There is also a fairly big group of elderly people and the crowd is not as dominated by men aged 20 to 40 as you see in most games in Europe. There are also a couple of really pretty young girls sitting right behind me, but they clealy have their eyes on the football players. 🙂 In one top corner there is a very loud group of 30-40 young guys who look a little bit like trouble at times, but one of them tells me that they usually only get in to fights when they play their arch rivals Farense, from nearby Faro. Farense is a team that is traditionally tied to the upper class, while Olhanense football club is a very working class club as Olhao is one of the towns in Portugal with the lowest average income.
Olhao is worth a visit.
After the game I pop over to a little local football cafe where I have a nice chat with a group of english expats who follow Olhanense football club and goes to all the home games. They are now living in Olhao though, but in nearby Tavira which a bit more of an upscale town, that has a fair bit of tourism and quite a few expats living there. There are few tourists and even fewer expats in Olhao as it’s a town that has a reputation for being socially troubled, but I really like Olhao and it’s one of my favorite towns in Portugal. The fishing industry is still very alive in Olhao and that makes it a real working class town with a bit of roughness to it and it gives the town a lot of edge in my opinion. Olhao rocks and if you plan to watch a football game while in Algarve, then Olhanense is the best choice in my opinion.
Where to stay in Olhao?
During my visit to Olhao I was staying at a place called Residencial Bela Vista, on a road called Teofilo Braga, right in the middle of the old town and I would highly recommend that if you are looking for cheap but clean accommodation. I paid 30€ for a nice clean room there facing a nice little rooftop terrace that had a view of the old part of Olhao. The old part of Olhao is one of the most moorish style towns in Portugal and it’s almost like walking through a north african kashbah when you stroll around the old part of Olhao.