I've talked before about how much I like the Spanish habit of forming allegiances with fans of other teams for one reason or another. Apparently it's common in Germany, too, but I don't know of an example in American sport and I still can't imagine, say, a gang of Leeds fans going up to Newcastle to support Portsmouth, in the same way that some Sportingistas did for Betis at Salamanca last year.
The blossoming bond between Betis and tomorrow's opponents Salamanca is even more charming for the fact of it being so random.
First there was the game at the end of last season, when more than 8,000 Béticos drove six hours up the motorway to the university city and spread so much innocent cheer - despite a disappointing result - that the local papers were moved to print eulogies to the verdiblanco army throughout the following week.
And then there was the Miguel García game in October, when the poor guy collapsed and almost died at the Estadio Helmántico in front of a crowd of about 8,000, of which maybe 1,000 were Béticos. The Betis club website this week printed a letter a from one of the Salamanca supporters' clubs explaining what happened immediately after the midfielder was stretchered away: "We were shattered. No-one was thinking about the match, nor the result. At that moment, you Béticos began to shout, with the passion that so characterises you, 'Hala Union!' [the Salamanca chant]. You can't imagine what effect that had on us all - the support, the sympathy, the warmth, the decency. Once again you demonstrated that you deserve to be called the best fans in Spain. From now on, please consider the Hélamantico and Salamanca your second home. Thank you, friends. It's obvious that next season you will be back in the Primera, something we want almost as much as you do. We hope you know that there, wheverer your team goes, you will always have the supporters of Union Deportivo Salamanca at your side."
While it will obviously be easier to feel warm and fuzzy once Betis are three-up, the word is that Salamanco fans and their team can expect a suitably genial welcome at the Villamarín tomorrow. If you only like your football with a bit of "edge", you might have come to the wrong place.