19 septiembre, 2010


My First Visit to the Chimbote Stadium

By: Eduardo Quevedo Serrano

Stadium Vivero Forestal of Chimbote. This is how the 
stadium  looked at the  beginning of the ‘60s.  (Photo: 
One Sunday in 1968 my older brother Roger ("Coco") and I were selling oranges from a cargo tricycle through the streets of Chimbote, Peru. 

My brother was thirteen years old and he was driving the tricycle. I was seven, and was sitting on the right rail of the tricycle bed.

Those were the times when my father had a grocery store, which also distributed soft drinks and beer.

The oranges came from this business.

That Sunday we had been selling oranges along Derteano Street in the Progreso barrio, and then we turned right, in the direction of Gálvez Avenue.

We traveled northwards and climbed the tough uphill of Gálvez Bridge. Coco pushed and I pulled the tricycle. My brother was worried. We had not sold enough oranges, and my dad might get upset.

When we reached the top of the bridge, my brother's mood changed. Coco smiled and said, "I know a place where we can sell plenty of oranges". So we continued driving the tricycle northbound.

"Coco smiled and said, 'I know a place where we can sell 
plenty of oranges'. So we continued driving the tricycle 
northbound" (Photo: Courtesy of Miguel Koo Chía)

On our way we passed by Simón Bolivar Street, where the initial “Colectivo” Nº 14 passenger service stop was located (whose route ended in the La Caleta residential area). We also passed by the SOGESA company (later renamed SIDERPERU) union’s headquarters, and the old Ideal Cinema . At this point Coco turned the tricycle left, following the round bend of the road, and passed in front of the Coliseum Paul Harris.

Suddenly, before my eyes rose up part of a building which until then was unknown to me. I saw an enormous adobe and brick wall, a large door, and a crowd waiting at the door. The building was the old Stadium Vivero Forestal of Chimbote.

And from the other side of the wall came enthusiastic shouting, which at that point I was not able to understand.

The door in front of my eyes was the No. 1 gate of the stadium, next to the Coliseum Paul Harris and facing Chimbote’s Industrial Avenue. And the cramped group of people gathered outside this door were waiting for "La Segundilla."

"La Segundilla" was the last fifteen minutes of the soccer matches played at the old stadium. The doors opened, and people who had no money to buy their ticket could get in free of charge to see the final minutes of the match.

And that was what my brother Coco had in mind when he thought about a good place to sell oranges.

In my seven years of life, the nearest personal experience I had that was close to what I was on the verge of seeing were my Sundays in “La Pampa”, a dirt soccer field in Chimbote’s 21 de Abril residential development -- the same spot where nowadays Santa María Reina high school is located.

I remember that every Sunday my brothers and I would cross Aviación Avenue, which separated my home from “La Pampa" -- where we saw our first soccer heroes play the game for honor and humble trophies. Teams like “Juan Joya”, “Cenit”, “Estrella Roja”, and “San Francisco de Asís” played before crowds gathered around the four sides of “La Pampa".

But those Sundays at “La Pampa" had not sufficiently prepared me for this particular Sunday in 1968.

Once the doors opened for "La Segundilla", people ran into the stadium. Behind them, in the middle of a cloud of dust, my brother Coco and I pushed our tricycle in.

Image  of  cargo  tricycles  in Chimbote, Perú. A popular  transport 
vehicle in Latinoamerica, virtually unknown in Europe and the USA. 
I do not really remember much about that day. But what little I remember stayed with me, tattooed in my mind forever.

I was impressed by the greenness of the soccer pitch. I had never seen so much grass in Chimbote before. It was bigger than the green areas of Chimbote’s main square and the Plaza 28 de Julio (today Plaza Grau)

I was also impressed by the colorful way the crowd in the stands looked. The diversity of dress and its palette of colors, accentuated by the brilliant clarity of the day, filled me with light and joy.

And, above all, I liked very much José Gálvez Football Club’s jersey colors because they were the same colors of my country’s flag.

Indeed, on that Sunday in 1968, on the soccer field, “The Red Stripe team” (José Gálvez Football Club) was playing for the qualification of the Peru Cup North Zone B, facing Carlos A. Mannucci team, from the neighboring city of Trujillo.

I do not remember any player on the field from that day. I was seven years old, and my memories of that afternoon are quite fragile.

What I do remember is that around that time, when the days were always sunny in our port city, big crowds of people walked through the streets of Chimbote at the end of the games in the stadium. And from the corner of my house I used to see them passing by.

Hundreds of people walked in the road past my barrio. They had crossed the Pantheon Cemetery in the El Progreso neighborhood, as well as José Balta Avenue and Urbanization 21 de April. Many, through Aviation Avenue, would follow in the direction of the 12 de Octubre and El Zanjón barrios. Others would disperse into San Isidro, and 2 de Mayo barrios.

Some of these people, coming back to their own neighborhoods, stopped at my father's corner shop, and drank a couple of beers “al paso” (”while passing through”, standing outside of the shop). And I was always there, amid the beer drinkers, because I liked to listen to the adult conversations.

They said things like “the goalie ‘Cheva’ Mantilla would best take care of his goal being drunk than sober”. Or that “neither the ‘Hercules’ or the ‘Monarch’ factories would make better ‘bicycles’ (a soccer move) than the striker ‘Moloche’ Palacios on the soccer pitch”. Or, that “the defender ‘Pepe’ Acosta’s wife was not only good at having a pretty face, but also at fist-fighting on the stands”. Or that “‘La Causera’ (a particular woman who used to sell food on the stands) was looking better and better”. And there was some who would even say that “‘that’ was also due to ‘Cheva’ the goalie’s work off the field.”

Well, we better leave these remarks behind, and return to the Stadium Vivero Forestal with the Gálvez versus Mannucci match.

I have already said I do not remember the players that took part in that afternoon match. Besides, I was there only to sell oranges.

"The Route of the Oranges" in 1968, viewed from south 
to north.  The white line with red dots  shows  the  route 
(Source:  © 2010 Google. Courtesy of Miguel Koo Chía)
But there is one particular image from that Sunday I do have registered in my mind. The moment was like this:

The match was over. Some of the players had retired to the dressing rooms. More than half of the people were still in the stands. And my brother Coco nudged me in my side, pointed toward the field, and said, "That gringo is Pepo Mannucci."

Indeed, in the central circle of the soccer pitch, a radio reporter was interviewing Don Pepo Mannucci, the historic leader and patron of the Trujillian team.

As for the game itself it is part of history to know that this historic match ended tied one to one.

That year, 1968, the Carlos A. Mannucci team would win the North Zone B of the Peru Cup and qualify for the Grand Final in Lima, where they would be champions, and be promoted to the professional league.

To be honest, I cannot remember if my brother Coco and I sold very many oranges on that Sunday, when I first visited the Stadium Vivero Forestal of Chimbote.

What I do know is that day I first began a profound love for “The Red Stripe team”.

A love that began in the purity of childhood, and continued during the romanticism of youth.

Then, it seems I became an adult. And things changed.

But that is another story.

New Hampshire, USA
October 2010 

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2 comentarios:

  1. Eduardo,
    Great job on this piece. I especially like the image when you first walked into the stadium. I like reading your articles because they help me to understand your latino nature.

  2. Very nice. I think that you've greatly polished it since I heard it at work. Good job.