The museum of Lightning and a lifetime in red-and-red

Maite Martin


For Rafael Garrido (Madrid, April 15, 1937), Rayo Vallecano is the common thread of his life and all its stages, that is why he is the protagonist of a unique museum on the ground floor of his home. Each piece is a chapter in the history of the Strip and its own. While the others see collector’s items, Rafa nostalgically reviews his youth, the first games of his children Teresa and Santos and remembers the smile of his wife Teresa, who died in 2010. her eyes fill with tears seeing how she has shaped a rayista pilgrimage site.

A work to which he has dedicated 50 years and which rose to fame thanks to the Telemadrid program ‘Mi Cámara y Yo’, although it was not his first time on TV: “30 years ago they did a report on me and I still have the VHS”. As a result of this new appearance, the fans mobilized and thus the idea arose of organizing a visit for more than a dozen of them. Its exterior appearance offers no clues as to what it houses: 295 paintings, some 50 pennants from now extinct supporters clubs, more than 200 posters (including those of the historic UEFA and a promotional one for Alcampo with Moreno, Claudio, Mendizábal and Soto, ‘the Vallecas vulture’), dozens of scarves and t-shirts, old season tickets, press clippings, ties with the Franja… Even the telephone and the bathroom (brush and toilet included) are pimped up! No detail is missing. The shirt that Trejo, Catena, Óscar Valentín and Isi already wears —his favorite, because as he himself confesses: “I don’t see well anymore and I recognize him because he’s just as pelao than me” – took him on a surprise visit for his last birthday. “No one does that anymore. To a partner and neighborhood. I saw them here and I was excited. We are poor in money, but rich in dreams. I’m proud of Lightning. I have been selling around the center, as a representative of the El Potro brand, with my rayista badge and they knew me to the rats. If you went with the Madrid or Atlético pin, no one would buy you. In Barcelona they have stopped me on the street and they told me that we were the most valuable in Madrid”Explain.

“The players came to give me a surprise. There is no one to do that anymore. I got emotional”

Rafael is currently the number 2 subscriber. “I’m not in a hurry to be number 1”, he jokes, before summarizing the reason for this museum: “This is love for a club. I had most of my things at home and my wife told me: ‘Rafa, this looks like El Rastro’. She was right so I took them down and without realizing it has been growing”. The walls and the ceiling attest to it. “I don’t have room for more”, he confesses, although he soon reveals his plan B: “The floor! With a glass so that it can be seen and not spoiled”. There are hidden treasures such as Rayo’s statutes, a chair that he made for his son when the matches were seen standing on the field and photos of his R12 and his later Chamade customized with the Stripe. “With the first one I did it for pleasure, to promote Rayo, and with the second, to go to La Peineta as a protest since Gallardón closed our stadium and we had to spend three months there,” he says. His memory is privileged at 85 years old.

That passion for the Strip comes from his family and has passed from generation to generation. “I’ve messed with all of them”, he laughs mischievously, before narrating the origins of the saga: “My father fixed the team’s boots, that’s why I grew up with Rayo. I subscribed when I was 16 years old, but I’ve followed it since 1945. Before, up to 14 years old it was free. Then Ezequiel Huerta, since he acted as president, gave me a signed piece of paper and passed. When I was 16, I collected the tips they gave me to become a member. I have never taken off, nor will I take off. When I finished my military service I went to the office to get my card and they told me that they had discharged me. Look! I shit on her mother and, as we had confidence, they already told me that it was temporary leave ”.

Rafael is also a proud Vallecano. The neighborhood marks, as much as his Rayo, hence one of his daily routines is to take a walk around the stadium, to which he continues to go religiously every game day. “I grew up in Puente de Vallecas and we all knew each other. Nogales, who was a player back in 1945, had a dairy. Peñalva’s father, a page shop and mine was a shoemaker, that’s why they called me PeriquinWhen my family came here there were hardly any houses. We have been in the neighborhood for about 120 years. The pride of the Vallecano is to be from Rayo, from no one else. I suffer and live it. I am not one of more teams ”, she sentences. That feeling has led him to follow the trail of the Strip to other places. He did it on the occasion of UEFA, although his most special trip was another: “To Valencia! It was the first time that he left for Spain. I was 14 years old and we traveled by bus to see Rayo. It cost me 5 pesetas. Then I repeated with my family. I remember that the game was very late and it was cold… My eight-month-old daughter and my pregnant wife, covered with a blanket….”. Rafael has grown hand in hand with Rayo and has met practically all of its presidents, coaches, players… Despite that, he has no doubts when he has to choose those who made him fall in love the most: “Felines and Potele! They have always shown their faces and have come to play without paying them…”. Another with whom he forged a friendship was Di Stéfano because this small shareholder has even more friends than pieces in the museum. And that is to say…

“I speak of Lightning as if it were my son… and sometimes he deserves a spanking”

His fidelity to the Strip also led him to baseball. “There he was the only one watching the team!”, he affirms, just before making a wish: “To celebrate the centenary with Rayo in Primera and to be able to enjoy it with my people”. A large part of those moments live in his museum, an album also of his life, of those anniversaries with the clubs, of his wife dancing with Teresa Rivero, of his talks with the historian Ignacio Nieto-Sandoval and Cotta… “I speak of the Ray as if it were my son… and sometimes he deserves a spanking,” he says with the tenderness of a father. That of an unrepeatable museum…