by CHRIS WRIGHT
Fifty members of the Expat Supporters Group and ‘Os Gorilas’ had left Olhão at midnight on the Thursday to travel to Lisbon for an early flight at the start of a five-day break to the magical island of Madeira.
Welcomed by warm sunshine, the group explored all corners of the island including Camacha. This small, sleepy village was where the first ever organised football game in Portugal took place in 1875 between British sailors and a team of Madeirians.
Last year the group had experienced snow when they travelled into the mountains but this time the azure blue sky and stunning scenery was a photographer’s dream.
The highlight of the trip was the evening dinner and entertainment hosted by the Maritimo fans on the outskirts of Funchal. This was the third season that Olhanense fans had travelled to Madeira and their hosts gave them a wonderful reception.
Many old friendships were rekindled and new ones forged. The Expat Group presented their hosts with a large photo banner which will take pride of place in their clubhouse.
As the evening drew to a close it was the first time I have ever seen a firework display launched from a narrow grass verge in the middle of a dual carriageway!
This was the positive side of football that can bond together different communities and create lasting friendships.