The club that was born as a San Lorenzo supporters club and today triumphs in the fourth division of Catalonia

The Catalans who attend do not understand anything and are amazed. Flags in every corner of the stadium, songs with Argentinian mischief, little pieces of paper when the team goes out on the field. Quite an adaptation for a new phenomenon: San Lorenzo de Catalunya (written as the “ñ” is pronounced in this region) has just started to play the football tournament of the fourth division of the Catalan Federation –like being in the ninth division- and officiates at “El Gasómetro de Badalona”, the small stadium that he was able to find after an enormous effort that included going through the entire city and raising the necessary money to face a tough championship, which includes three dates.

How it became one of the many Argentine club supporters on the way to becoming a legal subsidiary of the Argentine San Lorenzo. What functions does the group fulfill, which from 2023 would also begin to participate in the women’s tournament. In dialogue with Infobae, the president of the “Cuervos de Catalunya” rock and the club, Paolo Renard Bazzaco, gave more details about it.

– How was it to start playing in the Catalan fourth division?

– We are part of group 17 of the fourth Catalan, which is the category in which you start, the last of all. You can go to the third by buying the place, if it is free but we were not interested. We wanted to start from the bottom. We have been with the supporters club since 2007 and that’s where we started with the supporters club tournaments, which were lightning tournaments where River, Boca, Rosario Central, Newell’s Old Boys played –which were the first- and over time new clubs were created. In 2014, for the World Cup in Brazil, when we all got together to see it with the Argentine subsidiary, it was crazy. We became about 1,200 at the “La Oveja Negra” local, and new clubs were created there: Independiente, Godoy Cruz, Vélez. Those lightning tournaments were for one day, for supporters clubs and affiliates, and on top of that, it so happens that we have been winning almost always and a few years ago we made the league for supporters clubs and affiliates, that is, it is no longer a lightning tournament but a league and It is played every Thursday. So far four have been made and we won all four.

– Is that what encouraged them?

– The redeeming thing is that all of us who play in the peñas team are all “crows”. As we saw that we won all the tournaments and we even went to play a National in Cádiz, we decided to federate, although it scared me a little. That means that you are already part of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, registered as a club, and since everything is divided here by autonomous community and we are in Catalonia, we are part of the Catalan Federation and we are in the lowest category. The order is up to the First Catalan, from there to Third Regional, up to First Regional, Second Division and First Division. That is far but when one dreams, he does it big (laughs).

– How did you approach the rock? What is her personal story like?

– I did primary school in the Boedo neighbourhood, then I went to Liniers with my family. In 1990 we emigrated to Barcelona until 1994, then we went back to live in Merlo and in 2002 I returned to Barcelona with my family, so I’ve been at this stage for twenty years. I work in real estate.

Saint Lawrence of Catalonia
San Lorenzo de Catalunya, was born as a supporters club and today triumphs in the fourth division of Catalonia

– Does San Lorenzo support you in something from Buenos Aires?

– Yes, we have very close contact with the current leadership and also with the opposition. They have come to a meeting of supporters clubs because in Europe we have several, the one in Madrid, those in Italy, France, Valencia, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, etc. And every year we hold a meeting and we rotate the headquarters: in Barcelona, ​​in Israel and even now, the leadership has always come and helped us and also helped the team, giving us the first and second kits to play in, all thanks to Miguel Mastrosimone, the club’s general secretary. When there was an attempt to federate us, I sent them a PDF with a very ambitious, interesting project, and they liked the idea and asked us for a meeting via zoom and it was already proposed that we be not a supporters club but a branch, which is something else, an extended part of the club, but with all the bureaucratic hassles in Argentina and San Lorenzo, they wanted everything to be legal with lawyers, meanwhile we are looking to legalize and be the only subsidiary of San Lorenzo abroad.

– In addition to the bureaucracy, this will surely imply more expenses. It’s a leap in quality…

– Since now. It involves a lot of money, which was not so much before because you only paid for the tournament you played. Now there are more demands: a field, which involved going around Barcelona looking for one because now the city is full of fields taken by teams, and even more so now with the rise of women’s football. We got one in Badalona – 10 kilometers from Barceona-, in the Pere Gol field, which we named “El Gasómetro de Badalona” for which we had to pay 2,600 euros a year, which is money. We get it with activities like barbecues, the membership card is coming out soon with a low, annual fee, which is useful for anyone who wants to join, we auction shirts like the ones the club sent us from Sebastián Torrico and Néstor Ortigoza among all the peñas of Europe and was sold for almost 2,000 euros. Every time we play at home we have to pay the referees another 120 euros. Each player’s token is another 120 euros more, to buy balls, bibs.

– How is the activity of the team?

– We have a technical duo, Joaquín “Pipa” and Lautaro, two Argentine boys who have been running here for a long time, Second and First Catalan. They had no intention of directing Cuarta catalana but they saw the project and they liked it very much. They are fans of Gymnastics and very good. We train on Tuesdays and Thursdays and we play on Saturdays, and as visitors, it could be Saturday or Sunday depending on the day the team is scheduled to play.

– And how is the atmosphere?

– We play against different cities, towns or neighborhoods. For example, the neighborhood of Collblanc Torrassa, the one on the next date, is a neighborhood to which the city council gives its field and has its club, with lower categories. Of the 27 that we are, adding to the DT, 26 are Argentinian except for a boy who came to try out, who is a friend of a girl from the rock, who is Honduran, Marco Antonio. We named him “The Emperor” (laughs). There are three games. We lost the first two and it was weird because we weren’t used to losing. We don’t trust each other, but the category changes. And in the last weekend we were able to win 3-2. One thing of color is that in the second match we had a Uruguayan referee. And the first thing he said to us before starting is “look, I know you Argentines and I don’t want you to talk to me because the first time you do, I’ll kick you out.” So he started it (laughs). He got us 30 yellow cards, he kicked us a player… tremendous. In the third game, people told us “hey, they tell us that you are from an Argentine club that came to play here”, they make every movie.

Saint Lawrence of Catalonia
Paolo Renard Bazzaco, the president of the San Lorenzo de Catalunya club and the “Cuervos de Catalunya” supporters club

– And the fans, so popular and with so much imprint in Argentina?

– And yes, another thing they like is the fans. We are usually 250 but we will be around 300-350 members in the rock and for the matches, it depends on which one, when it is. To watch the Argentina matches on TV, they played San Lorenzo-Huracán and there were about 70 of us at the bar. Here in Badalona we were about forty fans, with pyrotechnics, Barça flares, and people couldn’t believe it, people who join in, ask questions and when they see us they start coming. That also happens to us on the street when we come to watch the games because we act as if it were on the field, with little songs, we encourage waving our arms and people come in and ask questions and they become San Lorenzo because of the movement.

– What reception do you have from the local people?

– Many Barcelona fans are coming. For the colors, and the one who knows history. We have Catalan fans who come often and they are one more crow that looks at him, follows him. A boy, Juanjo, who comes to the club and is Catalan, a Barcelona fan and has followed San Lorenzo since 1995 for wearing the Barça shirt, when San Lorenzo came to play the Joan Gamper Cup that year, he became a fan, and so there are a lot of people who travel to Buenos Aires, they go to see it, they become fans. Later, there are Barcelona supporters clubs twinned with us because they are very interested in colours. And there is the historical factor: the Spaniards who traveled to Argentina almost all became San Lorenzo or Independiente, as perhaps the Italian was more inclined to Boca.

– The fans of San Lorenzo have always been recognized for their creativity. Is there any special song that you have created in Catalonia?

– We don’t have specific songs from here because we have so many from there. There are some of the boys who sometimes jokingly change the lyrics to the songs and add the Badalona Gasometer, the ravens of Catalonia, things like that.

– He told me that now they are thinking of registering the women’s team also in the Catalan Federation.

– Yes, we have many female members of the rock, just as or more fanatical than the men. And many play soccer. Five women’s club tournaments were held and we won four and the fifth we lost the final on penalties. The girls play every week. Last time they beat Rosario Central 2-0 for the women’s club, before they did it 7-2 against Independiente. They are very hooked, and since there is a very big boom in women’s football, the idea is to federate them also in 2023. We also dream of having lower divisions, with smaller categories and that the same players are DT and they all join together. It is a constant job. A thousand things, like talking to the media.

Saint Lawrence of Catalonia
The women’s team of San Lorenzo de Catalunya

– Became a leader

– On a smaller scale… or more. Because the passion of a fan that one has takes you all day and I do it with a lot of love and a lot of desire, but there are days when my wife tells me “again with San Lorenzo, with the rock”. She is a fan, her family already was and her brother is from the rock, but she is not a fan like me. Being with San Lorenzo 24 hours… you enter my house and you have the starting shirt, the substitute, the girls’ shirt, the flag of the stick, the big flag, the flag we made in tribute to such… I thank him for supporting me a lot. And I don’t want to fail to mention José Cajaraville, vice president of the supporters club, and Facundo Pérez, vice president of the club, and Ezequiel Vargas, second vice president.

– In Argentina, the people of San Lorenzo are mobilized for the return to Boedo, with permanent marches. Do you replicate them in Barcelona?

– Many times we replicate your marches here. The same day that the marches take place there, about forty of us get together, take photos and support the feelings of the people there and what we most hope for now is that the theme of returning to Boedo becomes a reality, something that for the fan of San Lorenzo is fundamental and until the stadium is ready we will continue working.

– Do former players usually come?

– Before starting the Cuarta Catalana tournament there was a dinner with all the players and Pablo Zabaleta came, who lives here and was champion with San Lorenzo. Bernardo Romeo, Alberto Acosta and the Uruguayan Luis Malvárez, from “Los Cambodianos”, also came. We also tried to contact Viggo Mortensen who lives in Madrid, has a house with the woman, who is Catalan, but has not come yet. Gonzalo Rodríguez went to the Peña de Valencia. In general, when there is an ex-player who is in the area, he usually comes.

– Do they also have a venue where they meet?

– There is no headquarters. When we barbecue, we have a place, picnic areas where the grills are. The board of directors meets in a bar at 180 Paris Street. When it comes to the team, we decide on the pitch. On Tuesdays, we have a social network meeting for the women’s team (there are networks for the Peña and San Lorenzo de Catalunya in Catalonia). Having a headquarters implies paying rent. We think about it many times to have everything, shield, pennants, but you have to pay electricity, gas, water. If it’s in the center, we can’t shout, because people complain about the noise, and if it’s far away, they don’t come, so for now it’s not worth it at the moment.

– How’s that for noise?

– When San Lorenzo plays in Argentina we live it with so much passion, we sing, and certain bars put up with you until there is a shouting complaint. We were three years from place to place but now for a year, Miguelo, who is from our rock, opened this bar and we are comfortable. We are happy. The problem is because of the five-hour difference with Argentina, so sometimes, when San Lorenzo plays at 9:00 p.m. over there, it’s two in the morning here, and we go to see it at any time. But if we yell, we wake up the neighbors and sometimes that gets us some complaints.

Saint Lawrence of Catalonia
The coat of arms of San Lorenzo de Catalunya

– How is the rock made up?

– There is everything. Many people who came prepared, others work what they can, others come to do a master’s degree. There are young people, middle-aged people, some older people, those who come on vacation and spend the three summer months and come to watch the games with us. Against Hurricane, the other day, we were seventy people, we stopped the traffic light, we took pictures, we sang the whole game and people are very happy and it’s very nice. The peña is also designed so that every “crow” that approaches and comes to another culture, from afar, that does not have its home, your family, its friends, and arrive and meet a group of 200-300 people who welcome you It is tremendous, that they help you in the housing, labor issue. There is a group that is going to dance, or play paddle tennis. We operate as agglutinators so that they do not feel alone. On vacation it is very nice but the day to day costs. Everyone says “how nice it is to be in Europe” but not everyone can because of the uprooting. That is another sense of the rock.

– He told me that in the supporters club tournaments they play against other Argentine teams. How is the coexistence, outside the country, with other fans?

– Coexistence is correct. Being far away, one learns and you realize that this hatred, this fight with the other fans is in vain. There is never a fight in penyes tournaments and that we carry the flags, the drums, we sing to each other but that’s it. The folklore of soccer yes, but not reaching violence. On October 12 we organized with the APIFAV (Association of Argentine Supporters Clubs and Subsidiaries of Barcelona) a tournament of nations with ten countries and among them, Catalonia. This year I will be the DT of the Argentine team and I called up two players from each supporters club so that there is a balance. The relationship is very good. We can bring people together here knowing that there is so much violence there and even without visiting fans, which is crazy. I remember that what happened now with the Gymnastics fan happened to us with Ramón Aramayo a decade ago in a San Lorenzo-Vélez, who was killed by the Police and had a wife and children. I understand that there is a lot of violence there, but the police go too far.


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