Algarve diary: Super Billy Jones chant catching on in quiet little Albufeira

First published in Sport
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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Football/Golf Writer

A BIT of a routine has formed in the first few days: Get up, head to a snack bar for a large breakfast and to use the free wifi then crack on with some work. That’s just how I roll.

In typical British fashion, the full English served up with a cup of coffee for €5 has to be demolished before heading back down to the same area for a bit of food early evening ahead of Sunderland’s opening friendlies.

Despite the thousands of words (no, honestly, it’s true) which are being knocked out during this six-night stay in the Algarve, you do have to find time to eat you know – and we’ve stumbled across a friendly little Portuguese-style restaurant to keep us going.

Ran by an Icelandic-born Californian / Portuguese Larus, he’s travelled a lot, and his Moroccan wife, Ranias is named after their daughter. Ranias has served up a decent Peri-Peri chicken. And yes it’s far nicer than Nandos, and far cheaper.

Larus set up shop in the Algarve some 25 years ago and describes Albufeira as a lovely place to live, with very little crime rate. “It’s got the lowest crime rate in Europe ... there’s occasionally a murder or something, but that tends to be down at the Strip!”

The Montechoro Strip, where most of Sunderland fans spend their nights apparently, is the party-centre of Albufeira mentioned a couple of diaries ago. Away from that particular area, the town with a population of around 22,000 is pretty quiet.

“It gets much busier in August because many Portuguese come down to the Algarve for their holidays,” said Larus. “Many of them don’t even come down with money to spend, they just sleep in their cars some of them.”

LARUS even gave the three of us – the Sunderland Echo’s Chris Young and the Chronicle/Sunday Sun’s James Hunter – a lift up to the Estadio Municipal de Albufeira on Wednesday night because we struggled to get a cab.

There was a more subdued atmosphere inside the tiny athletics venue than there was the previous night – even though the first team got their chance to perform against CD Nacional.

Maybe it was because the likes of Lee Cattermole and Jozy Altidore were not sat behind them in the stands like they were on Tuesday. More likely, though, was that the hundreds of supporters were actually a bit weary from a heavy couple of booze-fuelled days in the sun.

But ‘the Billy Jones anthem’ could still be heard before, during and after the 90 minutes of the defeat to Nacional – and it turns out two supporters who featured in this column on Tuesday actually created it on their way here.

Daniel Woolston and Matthew McConnell came up with the chant which is likely to be sung throughout the next nine months and possibly beyond about Jones, a free agent signing after leaving West Brom this summer.

For those who still don’t know it yet, here’s how it goes. “Super Billy Jones ... Super Billy Jones ... Signed him on a free, who the **** is he? Super Billy Jones.”

I even heard a local whistling the tune as he walked down the street ... it’s quite catchy!

Anyway, I’m off to the beach.

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