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Exclusive: Scunthorpe Hasta Le Muerte (Part 1)

Scunthorpe cover 428 02

Iron-Bru.co.uk, DeCoubertin Books and author Iñigo Gurruchaga are delighted to be able to bring you two exclusive extracts from the forthcoming title Scunthorpe Hasta Le Muerte- the story of Scunthorpe United legend Alex Calvo Garcia.

Alex Calvo García was born on 1 January 1972 in his grandmother’s house, but lived with his parents and brothers in the high-rise flat known as ‘the skyscraper’ of Altamira. At the time of its construction, this eight storey building was unique in the area. The neighbourhood was built close to factories and warehouses, separated from the old town by the highway.

Alex’s father, José Miguel Calvo, joined the apprentice school of the trains factory CAF at fourteen to study metal structures.

Unhappy about injustices and with the official trade union under the military dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Calvo joined Comisiones Obreras (Workers Committees), a union linked to the outlawed Communist Party. He took part in illegal strikes and was dismissed in 1968.

He had recently married María del Carmen García, who had come with her family to the neighbouring town of Lazkao when she was seven. On the 2nd of October 1972, Alex’s father was stopped by a Civil Guard road block along with two comrades. They were carrying leaflets to distribute in a nearby village.

‘What are those?’ asked a guard, who had seen the leaflets on the dashboard of José Miguel’s Renault 8. A woman had seen them in Ordizia and reported it to the Civil Guard, who then went in search of the culprits.

The men were pushed into the back of the police jeep, beaten with the butts of submachine guns. At the the guards quarters José Miguel was tied up and whipped with a metallic wire. His collarbone was badly injured and his hands had turned purple from the tightness of his handcuffs.

Mari Carmen had just fed her children, Mikel, who was five, and Jandro, or Alex, who was eight months, when the doorbell rang. It was eleven in the evening. A large number of guards waiting outside.

They searched the house like a pack of wolves. In the kitchen and the lounge, in the children’s bedroom, under the mattress of the cot. Mikel was crying. Jandro wet himself. At 5am the 24-year-old Mari Carmen and her children crossed the highway on foot with Mikel still in his pyjamas. He was sentenced to two years for illegal propaganda and another two for illegal association. 

When the family is reunited, the boy they call Jandro keeps playing with a ball. At playtime he runs rings around his opponents on the school pitch and after classes he does the same in Altamira.

Next to the housing estate stands the sports stadium, with a grass pitch and athletics track. It has on the side a gravel surface and two goals. ‘The Annex’, where Alex plays whenever he can.

The talented young footballer from Urdaneta Primary School has his future determined. He dreams of playing for Real Sociedad but he will more likely follow in the footsteps of his father into the CAF factory.

In June 1982, the school takes its pupils to Loyola to celebrate the end of the academic year. They are going to visit the birthplace of another servant of the Spanish crown. They jump into a coach on route to Azpeitia, where Iñigo Lopez de Oñaz y de Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, was born.

He was educated in the homes of family friends close to the royal court. After being wounded during one of the last battles to unite the crowns of the Iberian peninsula, the young warrior wanted to spend his recovery reading novels about the adventures of gallant knights, but could only find a book on the life of Jesus Christ.

Alex and the young school children traverse the village of Azpeitia. Manor houses of the old nobility crammed in narrow streets and new blocks of flats built to accommodate the families of tinkers, carpenters, printers and labourers.

They visit the family home and read an inscription telling the story of how Iñigo’s mother gave birth to his last son in the stable, just like Jesus.

The pupil from Urdaneta Primary School listens to all this but he has had his own pagan revelation. The bus driver tells the children that after driving them to Loyola he will go to the airport in Bilbao to pick up the England football team. They are arriving that day to take part in the World Cup.

The ten-year-old Alex is amazed and when he is leaving the coach approaches the driver and asks him for a favour.

‘Can you give this comic to Kevin Keegan?’

……………………….

Scunthorpe Hasta La Muerte is available to pre-order for £14.99 from the DeCoubertin online store by clicking this link.

Iron-Bru.co.uk would like to thank DeCoubertin and Iñigo for their assistance.

The second extract will be published this coming Saturday evening at 8pm.

Written by Matt Blanchard

Part of the team since 2007, before becoming editor in 2013. Undertaken the role of match summariser during Scunthorpe United live match commentaries for BBC Radio Humberside. Seasonal contributor to football titles FourFourTwo and When Saturday Comes and a finalist at the Football Blogging Awards in 2014.

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