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He Bangs the Drum – Manolo el del bombo (Spain)

manolo el del bombo
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It’s a televisual cliché, during dull moments in tournament football, for the feed to cut away into the crowd and individuals who conform to ideas attributed to the nations they follow. The French may appear cool, Icelanders might seem very blonde just happy to be here: the cameraman might pick out those England fans who dress in chain-mail and, of course the Brazilians will be beautiful.

These days, unless you’re the President of the United States, witlessly ascribed stereotypes remain taboo;  so don’t go expecting our correspondents – even excitable folk like Jonathan Pearce –  to channel their inner Leslie Phillips when “our Russian director” turns to those in the stands engaged in a semi-clad approximation of samba.

Pearcey and Co will be on much safer ground if/when the camera crews at Spain’s matches pick out Manolo. He shouldn’t be too hard to find.

Manolo el del bombo

Manolo el del bombo (aka Manuel Caceres Artesero) is the Spanish national team’s number one fan – he has a bass drum (not to mention an oversized beret and no12 football shirt) to prove it. Manolo’s followed the nation team since 1979. Spain is often regarded as a country divided – and at times when Spanish internationals weren’t so celebrated, Manolo could often cut a solitary figure in stadiums staging their matches. In 1982, when Spain hosted the World Cup Finals, Manolo (and his bass drum) hitchhiked around Iberia following the team.

Things have looked up considerably for Manolo – almost as markedly as they have for Spanish football – since those days. Now Manolo receives official accreditation, travels with the squad; he rubs shoulders with Spanish Royalty and has acquired a band.

So, look out for him this summer. Manolo’s getting on now – he’s in his late sixties and on his 10th bass drum, but hopefully he’ll make it to Russia (his 10th World Cup tournament).  At South Africa 2010 Manolo was taken ill, and had to fly home, at the Quarter Final stage – but, he was fit and flown back for the semis and, as he explained “I did get back to see Spain win the World Cup and bang my drum. And now I can die”. Whilst one hopes Manolo el del bombo can hold that off a while longer – it does make one ponder on the groundswell in popular support, back in Blighty, if a similar pledge was made by the England brass band.


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