Gijón - Escuela de Fútbol de Mareo

With a couple obvious exceptions, following reserve team football in Spain can be a lonely experience and the preserve of a few dedicated souls. Take for example Real Sporting de  Gijón  B, who play the majority of their fixtures in front of barely a hundred supporters. This is due in part to the fact that their home ground, the Escuela de Fútbol de Mareo, is located in countryside, five miles south of the city centre.
Mareo - Before the multi-euro makeover
As you may have guessed, the Escuela de Fútbol de Mareo is the club's training centre and academy and has been home to the reserves since 1978. The B team has it's roots set in local football and before the Civil War comprised of a number of affiliated clubs. An official, albeit separate reserve team was originally set up in 1945, but this was disbanded in the fifties due to Sporting's financial problems. The current club was founded in 1960 as Club Deportivo Gijón and originally played home matches at the Campo Hermanos Fresno. They reached the Tercera in 1974, then debuted in Segunda B five years later. A name change to Sporting Atlético Club de Fútbol in 1979 was accompanied by a decade of flitting between the third and fourth tier. Rule changes by the federation in 1991 saw the club become the an official dependent of the parent club and adopt the full title Real Sporting de  Gijón  B. This coincided with it's most successful period when consecutive Segunda B titles were won between 1995-97. However, Sporting B could not navigate the play-offs and by 2002 was back in the Tercera.
El Mareo - A rural setting for Sporting's fledglings
Sporting B are now back in Segunda B and with the exception of local derbies, where the club decamp to  El Molinón, Mareo plays host. To call Mareo a stadium is a misnomer. It is a series of 8 pitches and training areas, the western most of which hosts the reserve team matches. It has a full length cantilevered cover running down the southern side, underneath which sit four rows of red & white bucket seats. Halfway towards the eastern end of this terrace once stood a rudimentary media booth, however this was replaced when the stand was given a makeover at the start of the 2011-12 season. The remaining three sides are open, whilst six sets of floodlights, three on each side of the pitch, complete the scene. Reserve team football in Spain is a sort of twilight zone, where the lines between professional football and a kick about on the village green are just a little fuzzy. None more so than at Mareo.

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