When you hail from a town where a bridge receives more recognition than your football club, you know that life is going to be an uphill struggle. In fact, in its 103 years as a football club, Club Portugalete has never attained anything approaching the heights of Alberto Palacio's world famous transporter bridge.
Portugalete is now effectively a north west suburb of Greater Bilbao, but at the turn of the 20th century, it was chiefly a resort where the rich industrialists of Bilbao lived. Not exactly prime footballing stock then! However, this did not deter the locals from forming Athletic de Portugalete in 1899. Within a decade, a number of local clubs had sprung up and two of them, Portugalete Foot-Ball Club and Deportivo de Portugalete formed Club Deportivo Portugalete in 1909. The new club entered the second division of the Vizcaya regional championship and in 1912 finished runner-up to Arenas Club and received a yellow and black striped kit as reward. These became the club colours and in 1915, the club beat Racing Santander to earn a place in the Campeonato Regional del Norte. Their debut season in what had become Spain's premier league competition was a disaster, with Portugalete finishing in last place with one win in twelve matches. As a result of this poor showing, the club disbanded and did not reappear until 1921, when as Portugalete FC they entered the lower reaches of the Vizcayan league.
|La Florida (circled) in 1974. The Transporter Bridge |
hangs over the er... yellow waters of the Nevrion
1944 saw the club reform again and this time adopt the name Nuevo Club Portugalete. Over the next few years, results steadily improved and in 8 July 1951, they beat Santona 2-0 to earn promotion to the Tercera. Elevation to the higher league meant that the club needed to find a new home and on Christmas Day 1951, it opened La Florida, a simple enclosed ground to the south of the town. Life in the Tercera was difficult, but the club achieved a high finish of sixth in 1953-54, before dropping back to the regional leagues in May 1958. Portugalete then spent all but seven of the next 43 seasons in the regional league, making brief appearances in the Tercera in the 1960's and 1980's. 2001 saw the club end a 12 year spell in the regional leagues with promotion back to the Tercera and over the next for seasons, the club grew in stature, before winning its first Tercera league title in 04-05. In the play-offs, Portugalete beat Cantabrians SD Noja and the Aragonese Utebo FC to earn a place in Segunda B. Their first season in Segunda B turned out to be their only one to date, with the club finishing 19th, seven points from safety. Back in the Tercera, Portugalete has performed consistently, winning a second title in 07-08, but it has failed to navigate the play-offs in four of the last five seasons.
|The west tribuna at La Florida in 2010|
La Florida is a simple stadium that still retains some of the original features from over 60 years ago. The most obvious is single storey building at the north end of the ground that used to house the changing facilities and club rooms. You can also see the original lattice brick wall around parts of the pitch. The main feature nowadays is a full length stand on the west side of the ground, which has five rows of seats in yellow and black bands. This is covered by a shallow cantilevered roof and dates from the early 1990's, when it replaced a covered terrace. A new changing block and club offices were also built in the early nineties in the south east corner of the ground, and this two-tier L-shaped building also features a viewing balcony. The newest part of the ground is the east terrace that was added in 2005 for the club's debut in Segunda B. Simple and with just a couple of stand out features, La Florida seems to go hand in hand with Club Portugalete's history and status.
|Black, Gold & Green. Jamaica? No, Florida. very confusing|
Labels: Euskadi, Tercera or Below