The seaside town of Estoril, west of Lisbon, has a rich sporting heritage. We visit its top-flight club, Estoril Praia, for an afternoon of winter sun.
Estoril, a 30-minute ride out of Lisbon, has many claims to fame. Its casino is reputed to be the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale from the time he spent here as an agent in World War II. Even in sporting terms it can hold its own: a tennis open, a golf open and – until 1997 – its Grand Prix was a regular fixture on the Formula One calendar.
Perched atop a steep hill 20 minutes walk from the sand and surf beach of Tamariz is the Estádio António Coimbra da Mota. Like Rayo Vallecano in Madrid or Braga in the north of Portugal, it only has stands on three sides. The stadium can host 8,000 people but I suspect it is rarely asked to. [Continues]
The thing with Portuguese football is that out of the big three – Benfica, Sporting and FC Porto – crowds are small, miniscule. The crowd at Estoril Praia versus Clube Desportivo Nacional – a mid-table clash in one of Europe’s supposed top leagues – was less than Maidstone United of England’s sixth tier can expect. [Continues]
The experience at Estoril Praia
What the crowd lacked in numbers it made up in enthusiasm. The visitors from Funchal, Madeira, the alma mater of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Fábio Coentrão, were in fine voice.
As were the home fans, decked in their yellow and blue they performed comedy movements, samba drumming and chanting throughout while the on-pitch offering was pretty dire. Estoril cancelled out an earlier Nacional strike with an equaliser three minutes from time.
Entry cost €12.
How to get to Estoril Praia
Estoril is a 30-minute train ride from the Cais do Sodré station in Lisbon’s docklands. From there either cab it or walk up to the ground in 20-odd minutes.