Showing posts with label Six of the Best. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Six of the Best. Show all posts

Six of the Best - Original La Liga Stadiums

On a grey Sunday afternoon 84 years ago, the Spanish Football League sprang into life. As you can imagine, things were done differently back then. There was no fanfare or orchestrated mass-media coverage to greet the start, just five fixtures that were scheduled to start at the same time (I know! How crazy is that?). The ten participating clubs were decided upon following a series of tortuous meetings, chaired by José Maria Atxa Larrea, the vice-president of Basque club and one time cup-winners, Arenas Club de Getxo. So protracted were these discussions and play-offs that were used to decide the final line-up, that this first 1928-29 season did not actually get under way until 10 February 1929. You can read about the first ever league season here. As you can imagine, the venues were not particularly sophisticated, but they had a charm and as they had evolved in a piecemeal manner, were unique. So here is my choice of the six best stadia that hosted matches during that inaugural season.
Camp de Les Corts  

Barcelona's Camp de Les Corts opened on the 22 May 1922 when a Catalan XI beat the mighty Buddies (That's St Mirren to you and me) by two goals to one. The first league match saw Barça lose 1-2 to Real Madrid on 17 February 1929. Barcelona continued to develop Les Corts and by the early 1950's its capacity stood at 60,000. Not content with a stadium of this size, Barça played at Les Corts until April 1957, when they moved a kilometre to the west and the Camp Nou. The old stadium continued to host reserve team football before finally being demolished in the Spring of 1966. Read more about Les Corts & Barça's first five grounds here
Metropolitano
The Estadio Metropolitano had a difficult start to life as a stadium. It was inaugurated on 13 May 1923, when a crowd of 25,000 saw Atlético beat Real Sociedad by two goals to one. However, it was not universally popular to start with and over the course of the next 20 years, a series of disputes and the Civil War saw Atlético criss-cross across Madrid, before finally settling back at the Metropolitano in 1943. The first league match was  played on Sunday 17 February 1929, with the visitors Real Sociedad winning 0-3. The club finally called it a day in September 1966, moving south to the Estadio Vicente Calderon. You can read about the Metropolitano here
San Mamés
At a cost of 89,000 pesetas, San Mamés was the first major purpose-built stadium in Spain. The first match was held on 21 August 1913 when Cup-holders Racing de Irun were held to a 1-1 draw. By the time the league started, San Mamés capacity stood at 15,000 and it was full to the brim when it hosted its first league match on 17 February 1929 when Athletic beat Espanyol 9-0. 99 years of history came to an end at the end of May 2013, when La Catedral was replaced with a new place of worship. Read more here.
Chamartin
After a failed season-long relocation in the east of the city, Real Madrid moved to the Chamartin district in May 1924. Architect José Maria Castell was commissioned to design this 15,000 capacity stadium and he did not disappoint, coming up with a typical estadio inglésAs if to underline the very Englishness of the new arena, English cup-holders Newcastle United were invited to open the new stadium on 17 May 1924. On 10 February 1929, Real Madrid hosted Europa in the first league match played in Madrid, winning the fixture by 5 goals to nil. Practically destroyed during the Civil War, Chamartin was rebuilt with a 22,000 capacity, but made way in May 1946 for the building of the new Estadio Chamartin, or Estadio Santiago Bernabéu as it was to become in 1955. More on Chamartin here
Sarriá
Espanyol had been playing matches at Barcelona's old Campo de la Calle Muntaner, when in 1922 they received some financial assistance from the wealthy La Riva Family. The textile industrialists bought some land on the Carre de Sarrià, close to Barça's Les Corts stadium, and funded the building of a new stadium. The ground was initially called Can Rabia, or White House, after an old villa that stood behind the southern goal. It was the stadium that saw the first goal in Spanish league football when "Pitus" Prats scored for the homesters in a 3-2 over Real Union. Espanyol continued to use Sarriá until June 1997, before heading off the the unpopular Olympic Stadium. Read more about this fantastic stadium here. 
Atotxa
From the very start, Atotxa was shoe-horned between railway lines and business premises. By the end it was cramped, crumbling and hopelessly inadequate. It was also atmospheric, intimidating and above all, it was home. Opened on 4 October 1913 and inaugurated with a match against perennial rivals Athletic Bilbao. Athletic also provided the opposition on 10 February 1929, when they held their hosts to a 1-1 draw. Time was called on Atotxa in 22 June 1993. The stadium lingered on for a few more years, before being finally demolished in 1999. Quite possibly my favourite "Lost Stadium", you can read more on Atotxa here

Four other clubs made up the line-up back in 1929, and you can read about the history of their homes by simply clicking on their names: - Racing Santander, Arenas Club de Getxo, Club Esportiu EuropaReal Unión Club de Irún

Six of the Best - Past & Present Towers

There was a time, many years ago, when any self respecting stadium development in Spain could not be called complete without the addition of a tower. This impractical, egotistical appendage was all the rage during the 1940’s, when Franco’s regime and his hand-picked club presidents started to develop new arenas. The inspiration for the building or inclusion of the towers undoubtedly came from the stadia that had been built in Germany and Italy a decade earlier. Whilst the creators & their motives were unquestionably disturbing, when viewed in isolation, these towers were magnificently anachronistic. Serving little purpose but to show-off, many made way when new stands were developed or old grounds demolished. The few that do remain are tucked away in forgotten corners, like an embarrassing relative at a family party, but like our nutty next of kin, they have a story to tell. So here are my six favourite towers, that once stood ahem… proud and prominent across the Iberian Peninsula.  
La Coruña - Riazor

Probably the most recognisable stadium tower anywhere in Spain is the Torre de Maratón at Deportivo's Riazor stadium. The original stadium was built in 1944, but the tower itself dates from the late 19th century, when it enjoyed an uninterrupted view of the Riazor beach and beyond. The various incarnations of the stadium incorporated the tower until the present structure was opened in 1998, leaving it stuck rather unceremoniously behind the west stand. You can read more about the Riazor here.

Madrid - Estadio Santiago Bernabéu

This effort from Real Madrid had a very short life-span and few photographs exist. It was situated on the east side of the Nuevo Estadio Chamartin (The stadium was renamed the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in 1955) which comprised of a single tier, due in part to the close proximity of the old Campo de Chamartin. Designed by Luis Alemany Soler and Manuel Munoz Monasterio, this neo-classical tower was demolished in 1953, when the east side was extended to incorporate a second tier. You can see more pictures of the tower and read about the history of the Santiago Bernabéu here
Cádiz - Estadio Ramon de Carranza

The Torre de Preferencia (or Torre Olímpica) stood at Cádiz's Estadio Ramon de Carranza for nearly 50 years. Built during the 1954-55 season, the stadium finally opened on 3 September 1955. It stood guard over the popular terrace until the end came in 2004 when the first phase of the stadium's redevelopment began. More on the history of the stadium and it's incarnations here.
Castellon - Nou Estadi Castalia
Standing 40 metres in height, the Torre de Maratón de Estadi Castilia dominated the old Estadio Castalia. Opened in November 1944, the horse-shoe shaped stadium served as home to CD Castellón until May 1986. The enclosure was demolished and the current stadium was built at 90 degrees to the old layout. Thankfully, the tower was saved and now stands behind the current main stand. Read more on these two fantastic stadiums here

Valladolid - Estadio José Zorrilla
Real Valladolid's original Estadio José Zorrilla evolved in a rather piecemeal fashion over the forty-two years it served as their home stadium. An ever present however was the simple neo-classical tower that stood on the east side of the stadium. This was partially obscured when the east side gained a cover in the 1970's. First team fixtures ceased with a move to the new stadium in 1982 and the stadium was finally demolished in 1984. Read more here

Alzira - Estadio Frente de Juventudes
Alzira's absurdly grandiose Estadio Frente de Juventudes was home to UD Alzira from 1946 to 1973. Not content with one tower, the stadium's only significant stand had not one, but three towers. Given the fact that I'm easily impressed by quantity and that this is the only photograph I've ever seen of the stand, makes it my favourite! Read all about it and its successor here.

Other towers were built across Spain, some prior to Franco’s ascent to power and others as late as 1960. You can find further examples in AlgecirasFerrol, Oviedo, AlbaceteBarakaldo and the Estadi de Olimpic in Barcelona.

Six of the Best - Madrid's Hidden Gems

Think of stadiums in Madrid and thoughts immediately turn to the elite palace that is the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu or the hulking presence of the Estadio Vicente Calderón. Think a little harder and you may acknowledge the quirky nature of the Estadio de Vallecas or the open, frozen expanses of the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez. Few, if any, will look beyond, but by not doing so you'll be missing a trick. Madrid and its metropolitan area plays host to a series of wonderful small stadiums, which may not be perfectly formed, but are all the more interesting for it. So here's my pick of Madrid's hidden gems. 


Estadio Municipal Santo Domingo 


Agrupación Deportiva Alcorcón has played at Santo Domingo since 1971, but its current form dates from 1999 and a refit in 2010 that coincided with promotion to La Segunda. Read more about the stadium here.


Estadio Municipal de Butarque


There was a time, not so long ago when CD Leganés looked down on their near-neighbours Getafe CF. With a new stadium and some comfortable seasons in La Segunda behind them, Leganés looked set for launch, only to be overtaken in the race to the top flight. The club now sit stranded in Segunda B, whilst Getafe clock up another season in La Primera. Here's the club & stadium history. 


Estadio Román Valero 


Tucked away just south of the Rio Manzanarés is the home of Club Deportivo Colonia Moscardó. Nope... doesn't mean anything? They reached La Segunda for a season in the late 1960's... still nothing? OK, read this and get clued-up on the club and its throw-back of a stadium.


 Estadio Municipal Mariano González


Club Deportivo Artístico Navalcarnero has a rather flamboyant name, but it's not a patch on its stadium. Bedecked in claret & yellow and featuring a clock tower and pigeon loft of a main stand, it's safe to say the Estadio Municipal Mariano González is a one-off. More on the club and stadium history here.

Estadio Nuevo Matapiñonera


The Estadio Nuevo Matapiñonera is home to Unión Deportiva San Sebastián de los Reyes. A lot of name for not a lot of stadium. That said, it does have some nice touches and some of the best free views in Madrid since the building of apartments to the north of the ground a few years back. More here


Estadio Fernando Torres


Named after Fuenlabrada's most famous son, the opening of the Estadio Fernando Torres has coincided with the rise of the town's senior team. More on CF Fuenlabrada and its stadiums here

Six of the Best... Unexpected International Venues

Occasionally, albeit very occasionally, the RFEF get things right. Take for example their stance on allocating venues for international matches. With no national stadium to hog all the home fixtures, the Spanish National Team has always hit the road. However, rather than just play at few select stadia in the larger Spanish cities, the RFEF has adopted a very inclusive policy. With a couple of obvious exceptions (history and politics exclude Catalunya & The Basque Country) La Selección has played a home international match in practically every region over the past decade. Here is a selection of the best of the smaller venues where La Roja has played, and usually won, in the past 10 years or so.

Albacete - Estadio Carlos Belmonte


Spain last played in Albacete in September 2010 when they beat Armenia 4-0. You can read more about the Estadio Carlos Belmonte here

Badajoz - Estadio Nuevo Vivero


The national side has played in Badajoz on two occasions, the last being a 4-0 victory over Liechtenstein in September 2006You can read more about the Estadio Nuevo Vivero here

Cartagena - Estadio Municipal Cartagonova


Cartagena hosted La Roja in January 2001, when the home side disposed of Poland by three goals to nil. You can read more about the Estadio Municipal Cartagonova here.

León - Estadio Reino de León


In April 2004, Spain beat Armenia 3-0 in León. You can read more about the Estadio Reino de León here.

Logroño - Estadio Nuevo Las Gaunas


Spain has played at the Estadio Nuevo Las Gaunas on two occasions, the last being a 6-0 victory over Liechtenstein in September 2011. You can read more about the Estadio Nuevo Las Gaunas here

Salamanca - Estadio El Helmántico


Spain played China at the Estadio Helmántico in March 2005, winning by three goals to nil. You can read more about the Estadio El Helmántico here.

Six of the Best... Stadiums in Galicia

Hey, Talk about repackaging old ideas as new. This makes me feel like a member of the Coalition Cabinet! Actually what this does allow me to do is to share with you some rarely seen photographs and showcase related articles that have appeared on your favourite Spanish stadiums site. So to start with here are six of the best (or my favourite) stadiums in Galicia.

Estadio Multiusos de San Lázaro - Santiago de Compostela


You can read more about San Lazaro here

Estadio de A Malata - Ferrol


You can read more about A Malata here

Estadio Balaidos - Vigo


You can read more about Balaidos here

O Vao - Vigo


You can read more about O Vao here

Estadio de Riazor - La Coruña


You can read more about the Riazor here

Estadio Municipal de Pasarón - Pontevedra


You can read more about the Estadio Pasaron here

More from "Six of the Best" to follow at regular intervals throughout 2013.