Basketball Before Football; Santa Before the Kings!

There is a football pitch of some description in Grado del Pico. There is even a paddel court. Yet, neither of these sports was played in the village well over sixty years ago. To the surprise of many, basketball was what the few youngsters in the village played then.

How did that sport, incidentally invented by a Canadian and not an American, reach such a small village in the 1960`s? The answer is a little bit like the film “Bienvenido Mr Marshall”. It was an American who brought basketball to that remote village tucked away on the limits of Guadalajara, Soria and Segovia before it reached many other parts of the peninsula.

This American, by the name of Ronnie, was not only responsible for the villagers playing basketball, but he also introduced them to Santa Claus. Coming up to Christmas, Ronnie and his French wife Jacqueline, would go around the few families in the village and give them presents. The children were delighted, as normally they would have had to wait until 6th January before their supply of toys would be renewed.

Ronnie and his wife were very much loved in Grado del Pico. Despite the plate on the house bearing the name El Prado de la Virgen the house that the couple had built is still known as El Hotel del Americano. Ronnie certainly did go down in the village history books,