On Saturday, December 10, 1967, Atlético Madrid, league leader after eleven games, took the flight to Bilbao with storms threatening. And as it turned out, the plane could not land in Sondica and had to return to Madrid. After a quick lunch, the team set off by coach. Arriving at Somosierra they ran into snow, so chains were put on the wheels and in some sections the players had to get out and push.
They arrived at Landa de Burgos at midnight, had dinner, continued to Vitoria, arriving there at four am. They slept, and at midday they had a late breakfast-early lunch, before getting back on the bus to arrive at the San Mamés 20 minutes before kick-off. They lost 6-1.
It was not ideal, of course. Ideally, there would have been no snow. But that reflected the spirit of the times: the determination to save the match. This Saturday, Athletic were scheduled to play at the Wanda Metropolitano. Their team bus travelled ahead on Friday morning, as it now customary so that it is at the destination airport upon the team’s arrival.
The team flew in the afternoon, could not land in Madrid due to the heavy snow caused Storm Filomena, and so the bus waited in vain. On Saturday they would not have been able to play but Sunday was a possibility, which would have pushed the Atlético-Sevilla game to Wednesday. In 50 years, many things have changed for the better, but the respect for commitment has been lost.
It has not only been the unbearable fussiness of Real Madrid. Getafe and Rayo have also complained about having to play. Real Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini suggested not going to Huesca, due to the cold. LaLiga boss Javier Thebes has done all he could to make sure games went ahead because this is not the season to be postponing fixtures on a whim. LaLiga started late, it has to finish by May 23 due to the European Championship and there is the perpetual threat of suspensions due to coronavirus. Each team must do everything possible to be where they should when they should and put the collective commitment to LaLiga above apathy and a lazy unwillingness.