Local villagers bet against Malaga winning, and yet they won. / MAVALPHOTO

You don't know the score

The weekly 'porra' always has the locals in the village bar on edge

Peter Edgerton

The tension is palpable as the locals do their best to make small talk while hovering at the bar like hawks over prey. Everyone has the slightly distracted look of guests at a Hollywood party, glancing surreptitiously over each other's shoulders, waiting for the big cheese to stride in. And then he does. It's more of a shuffle than a stride, to be fair, but, nonetheless, Miguel makes his long-awaited appearance clutching the all-important papers. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the 'porra' (sweepstake) at the local village bar.

For the last Lord-knows-how-many weeks, thirty-odd (some odder than others) blokes have been trying in vain to predict the scores of three football matches, chosen weekly by Miguel's son. The two euro per person participation fee has been rolling over for so long that the prize money is now equal to a very decent monthly salary. Hence the nervous hovering at the bar every Monday when the new matches are revealed.

There are a number of reasons why nobody has won the pot. First, men don't know half as much about football as they think they do. Secondly, some of the matches are wantonly obscure - Getafe v. Rayo Vallecano, anyone? Lastly, and most importantly, one of the games is always the one Malaga are playing in. In a classic example of hope over experience, everybody consistently puts the Blue and Whites down for a victory when, quite clearly, they're rubbish. Last week I noticed a few hardy souls had decided to put head before heart for once and predicted a defeat for the home side at the Rosaleda. Malaga promptly won 3-2, confounding all concerned including, I suspect, the manager. So, the rollover continues, and we're all, once again, bigging up the Monday night small talk at the bar.

Actually, I've come up with a new tactic - having finally accepted that the whole thing's a lottery and detailed knowledge of the wing backs' inside leg measurements is of limited use, I'll be putting down the same three results every week from now on, whatever the matches are: 1-1, 1-1 and an X (score draw). This is the male equivalent of a grandmother choosing her grandchildren's birthdays for the national lottery every week and, let's be honest, stands about as much chance of winning.

Still, hope springs eternal and, Lord willing, come Monday I'll be buying all of my fellow hoverers a drink thanks to a last-minute equaliser in this week's clash of the, er, titans: Oviedo v. Malaga. Wish me luck.