Will the gashegos have the last laugh?

INVASION ALERT! With Spain facing Argentina in a friendly, Argie Bargy blogger Joel Richards has his say on Argentine attitudes to the Old World country...

Manolo and his brother were in the house-moving industry in Galicia.

One day Manolo was struggling along, sweating and grimacing under the weight of the huge wardrobe he was carrying on his back.

"Hey Manolo," shouted out one of the villagers, "why doesn’t your brother help you?"

"He is!" replied Manolo cheerily. "He’s inside, holding the hangers."

There's more where that came from. Lots more.

Why can’t you get ice in Galicia? Because the woman who had the recipe died.

Why did the Gallego stare at the orange juice carton? Because it said "Concentrate."

By now, you get the drift.

Up there with reliving every split millisecond of Maradona’s two goals against England is telling jokes about the ‘gallegos’.

Once they’ve started, Argentines won’t stop.

And it’s not because they’ve got something against the wind-swept northern region of Spain that they refer to in the jokes, but rather that most of the Spaniards who emigrated to Argentina were from that area.

As a result, the Spanish are universally referred to as gallegos. Or as the Argentines would say it, gashegos.

So it is that the coloniser and the colonised meet on Saturday to celebrate the Spanish federation’s centenary - except, as La Liga Loca readers know only too well, it's not their centenary. That’s in four years' time.

To get a rough idea of what Argentines make of that, see the jokes above.

As for the football, we all know the score.

The Roja are favourites, but then they tend to be the favourites in 99.9 percent of their games right now, so that’s hardly news.

Argentina still have to find a way to bring out the best of Messi. Fine.

For all the multimillionaires on show, for all the team news, recent results, Big Test Before The World Cup etc, if you’ve read the Spanish papers for the last year, you’ll know one thing:

This isn’t Spain against Argentina. This is Spain against Maradona.

Ever since Diego took over as Argentina coach, the gashegos have been lapping up Maradona’s mishaps, misunderstandings, misfortunes, mismanagement and press conference appearances like there is no mañana.

Yet while the gashegos love a good old Diego-induced disaster, they also know they're on to a good thing while he’s around.

He commentated the last World Cup for Spanish TV. He used to write a column for the paper who put him next to Di Stéfano and Messi for the world’s media.

Everyone wants to read about what he’s up to – for good or for considerably worse. He is, after all, Maradona.

When Diego took over as coach last year, one Spanish TV reporter made the trip over to Buenos Aires.

Flustered by the summer heat and the prospect of speaking to Maradona, he excitedly blurted out the question he had travelled 15 hours to ask.

"Who do you think is the best national team in the world right now?"

"You’re a little clever-clogs, aren’t you?" replied Diego (to which the room full of Argentines rolled about laughing). "You want me to say Spain, don’t you?"

"No, really, honestly, promise, scouts' honour," the gashego almost said, "it’s a genuine question. Who do think is the best side?"

Diego duly obliged by saying Spain, before reeling off a list of other national teams.

Excited by getting the quote he needed, the reporter quickly canvassed the assembled press about Maradona’s appointment, and completely ignored the response after asking Argie Bargy for its real name, before running back to Madrid.

Back in Spain, this blogger appeared in the gashego’s report as ‘George’.

Amigos consoled Argie Bargy with jokes like those at the top of the blog, along with several other completely unpublishable ones.

How we laughed. But then, on this side of the Atlantic we can laugh all we want.

Come Saturday night, if Maradona’s side lose to Spain, it will be the gashegos who laugh the loudest.


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