Filming with The King & drinking with The Axe

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I flew back to Barcelona last weekend and saw lots of Tenerife fans at the airport.

They’ve had a great season in Spain’s second division and were playing their penultimate game at Catalan side Girona.

I spent time in Tenerife writing about their derby with Las Palmas two years ago so I’ve always watched out for their results.

After beating Girona to confirm promotion, those fans who didn’t make the three hour flight to Catalonia flooded onto the streets of island’s capital Santa Cruz – 200,000 of them – to celebrate.

Tenerife have a significant British ex-pat following who are delighted their team is playing Barcelona and Real Madrid next season, rather than Cordoba and Castellon.

Tenerife: Back in the big league 

Tony Kempster passed away last week after a battle with cancer.

For more than a decade, Kempster ran a brilliant, predominantly non-league website, from his home in York.

If you needed to find out what the average crowds were at Old Trafford or Trafford and compare them with previous seasons, the distance between Barrow and Eastbourne or the ground grading requirements for clubs hoping to play in the Spartan South Midlands league, Kempster’s website was an anorak’s trove of results, attendances and graphs. 

Kempster did the site as a labour of love in his retirement and in recent years started to receive the recognition he deserved, with the Football Supporters Federation awarding him their annual Services to Supporters award.

Rest in peace.

I’ve watched a bit of the Confederations Cup from South Africa. Standards and interest levels of the competing teams vary.

Against Egypt, Brazil’s defence look like they’d never played together before, their attack like they could damage any defence in the World Cup next season.

I was especially keen to watch South Africa for I know Aaron Mokoena, the South Africa captain, who lived in Manchester for four years until joining Portsmouth recently.

"Out of the way please David, there's a good chap" 

I received a phone call from ‘The Axe’ on the day he left Blackburn recently, with an invite to go out for a beer to celebrate his transfer to the south coast.

Wolves were also interested in him. Aaron left because he wanted to play more football in what will be a very important season for him, concluding with the World Cup finals.

He’s also set up a foundation in his own name, explaining: “Ever since turning professional at the age of 17 I have dreamed that one day I will give something back to the roots that helped me develop my skills as a footballer.”

Aaron’s a good lad, and he’s confident that his country will stage a great World Cup next year.

I watched ‘Looking for Eric’ in Manchester and really enjoyed it. I’ve been a fan of Ken Loach’s work since seeing Kes.

Raining Stones is one of his best works, though the tone of the Cantona film is far lighter and it’s peppered with moments of humour.

We were asked to help find extras for the film last summer, so there’s lots of familiar faces throughout, all of whom loved the experience of filming with King Cantona.

I paid for my season ticket at Old Trafford on Sunday. I’ve held one in K Stand behind the goal since 1991, after transferring from the Stretford End.

My first one in the Stretford End cost £38 in 1987, the first adult one in K Stand £110 (£5.70 a game).

It cost £684 to renew (£36 a game) for next season.

Most cup games will be a further £36, with prices rising up to £46 a ticket should United reach the Champions League semi-final.

An equivalent season ticket at Barcelona (where I don’t pay as I work from the press box) would cost 40 percent less…    

If United’s price rises continue at the same rate, I’ll be paying over £4,000 per season just to see league matches at Old Trafford in 2026.

"I wonder if the cheque has cleared yet..." 

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