To the casual follower of Spanish football, Real Club Deportivo Mallorca has been a permanent fixture in the top division. However, Mallorca's success has been a recent phenomenon as prior to 1990 the club had spent only eight seasons in La Primera. Distance from the mainland ensured that clubs from Balearic Islands along with those from the Canary Islands, were severely disadvantaged in terms of development in the early years.
|An extremely grainy image of a match at Bon Aires, with a windmill to boot!|
We need to travel back to February 1916 to witness the birth of the club and as we have come to expect, it started out under a different name, that of the rather grand Sociedad Alfonso XIII Foot-Ball Club. The club's first ground was the Campo de Bons Aires, which was tucked behind the Hermitage of the Little Sisters of the Poor and close to the city's hippodrome on the Calle General Riera. The first match took place on 25 March 1916 when a strong FC Barcelona won by five goals to nil. The club joined the Catalan Federation and in June 1916, sought and was not surprising awarded royal patronage, by King Alfonso XIII. The Balearic Federation was founded in 1926 and the club joined the regional championship, winning the title in 1928-29 & 29-30. Following the arrival of the Republican government in 1931, the club dropped all reference to royalty and opted for the simpler Club Deportivo Mallorca. A single appearance in the Tercera in 1931-32 was Mallorca's only appearance on the national stage prior to the Civil War, but an invite to join La Segunda in 1939-40 was quickly accepted. Perhaps too quickly, as Mallorca finished seventh and dropped back into the regional league.
|Palma in 1956 - Bon Aires is still visible (Centre, upper right)|
It took a further four seasons to regain a place in La Segunda, by which time Mallorca had made plans to move west 200 metres to the other side of La Riera. The final season at Campo de Bon Aires saw a battle against relegation with fellow islanders CD Constancia, which went to the final game, coincidentally at Bon Aires. Mallorca won a tense affair 2-0 guaranteeing their safety and second division football at their new Camp d'Es Forti. The new ground was designed by Carlos Garau and had an initial capacity of 15,000 spread fairly evenly across four open terraces. It was officially opened on the 23 September 1945 for the league match with Xerez CD, which Mallorca ran out 3-0 winners. Mallorca would spend eight of the next nine seasons in La Segunda, usually at the wrong end, before the club dropped to the regional Tercera in 1954. Here they endured a five year battle to escape back to La Segunda, by which time the Camp d'Es Forti was renamed Camp Lluis Sitjar in honour of the club president who oversaw the stadium's development. Under the guidance of Argentinian coach Juan Carlo Lorenzo, Mallorca won back to back promotions and debuted in La Primera for the 1960-61 season.
|A packed Lluis Sitjar witnesses Mallorca's |
5-2 win over Real Madrid in December 1962
|Sitjar in the seventies awaits the extension to the Fondo Norte|
|Lluis Sitjar - A stadium that only a true fan could love!|
|Seating was the stadiums only nod towards the modern era|
|Broken, tired and Palma's biggest shag-pad for cats,|
but all this is about to change if the club get its way