Sabadell - Estadi de la Nova Creu Alta

Sabadell is a town 15 miles to the north of Barcelona and is home to Centre d'Esports Sabadell Futbol Club, who can rightfully claim to be the third biggest club in Catalunya. They have played a total of 14 seasons in La Primera and even qualified for European football in the late 1960's. Founded in 1903, Sabadell played their first matches at Prat de Sant Oleguer, then moved to Carrer Cervantes a few months later. Both were small and basic, so with increasing interest in the club a larger venue was required. In 1905, the club moved to some  land in the Creu Alta district.
Blue & white quarters on badge & stadium. I feel at home!
The stadium was quickly developed and included a velodrome and basic bleachers. The stadium was officially inaugurated on 6 June 1906 with a match against Sporting X, soon to be called RCD Espanyol. The size of the stadium and quality of the pitch earned Sabadell the right to stage the final of the Salut Cup in 1906 and the first official final of the Campionat de Catalunya in 1907. Sabadell also claim that Creu Alta was he first ground in Spain to host a floodlit match, when on 6 August 1912, they played the local University side in front of 2,000 spectators. FC Barcelona make a similar claim about their  L'Escopidora ground.
Creu Alta in the early 40's with the new velodrome to the north
A new velodrome was built by the municipality, so the track at Creu Alta was dismantled and terracing was added and a basic pitched cover went up over the bleachers. The ground now had a traditional square shape and a capacity of 11,000 of which 2,454 were seated. Sabadell won promotion to la Segunda in 1933 and made steady progress either side of the Civil War. They even reached the final of the Copa del Rey in 1935, but lost 0-3 to Sevilla at Real  Madrid's Chamartin stadium. In 1941-42 the club won Group II of La Segunda, but a rather convoluted play-off system saw them lose to Real Oviedo 3-1. They finished second the following season, but topped the play-off group and debuted in La Primera in 1943-44. The first match at Creu Alta in the top division was on 3 October 1943 and saw Sabadell beat Granada 2-0 with goals from Aranaz and Gonzalvo. Sabadell spent five of the next six seasons in La Primera before dropping back to La Segunda in 1949.
Cramped and dilapidated, Creu Alta nearing the end
When the club returned to La Primera in 1965, it was very apparent that Creu Alta was past its "sell by" date and on 15 September 1966, work commenced on a new stadium at the edge of town on land known as Can Borgonyó. After 62 years,  final league match at Creu Alta took place on 16 April 1967, when Sabadell entertained Sevilla. Fittingly, the hosts won 1-0 with Josep Maria Vall having the honour of scoring the final goal at Creu Alta. The ground was demolished in September of the same year.
The final season at the old stadium
Under the guidance of Architect Gabriel Bracons, Nova Creu Alta took just under a year to build and opened on 20 August 1967 with a friendly against FC Barcelona which Sabadell won 1-0 with Josep Maria Vall popping up again to score the stadium's first goal. As with many teams, Sabadell seemed to gain added impetus from the new stadium and in season 1968-69 they gained their highest placed finish of fourth in La Primera. This saw them qualify for the Inter Cities Fairs Cup, a fore-runner of the UEFA and Europa Cups, where they were drawn against Belgium's Club Brugge. They met at Nova Creu Alta on 17 September 1969 and won 2-0. Unfortunately, Sabadell were overwhelmed in the second leg, losing 1-5 and 3-5 on aggregate.
Opening Day at Nova Creu Alta. They should have built a car park.
Sabadell's run in the top tier ended after seven seasons when they finished in eighteenth and last place at the end of the 1971-72 season. The club slipped into decline, even dropping to the Tercera in 1975. They returned to La Segunda two seasons later, but not with any great conviction, and in 1983, Sabadell was relegated to Segunda 2b. That sparked a rival and the title was won on the head to head record against CD Logrones, after finishing level on points and goal difference. Back  in La Segunda and buoyed by additions to the squad, the club surprised everybody with an excellent fourth place finish. The good form continued in season 1985-86 when Sabadell finished second and won promotion back to La Primera.
All lit up - Nova Creu Alta doesn't do corner pylons
That first season back at the top saw a revamping of the league, which was incredibly convoluted and the format was never repeated. I'll attempt to explain it, so if you are sitting comfortably I'll begin. The season was played over two phases. In the first one all 18 teams played each other at home & away.  At the end of the first phase, the first six teams qualified for championship group (Group A), the next six qualified for intermediate group (Group B) and the last six qualified for relegation group (Group C). Sabadell found themselves in the relegation group, having finished the first phase in seventeenth place. In other seasons this would have led to automatic relegation, but they took their opportunity and showed great form winning five and drawing three of their 10 second phase matches. Sabadell avoided the final relegation play-off group (Yes, another phase was added when the Federation changed the rules half way through the season) by having a better head to head record against CA Osasuna.
God's own colours on display at Nova Creu Alta
Phew! After all that, it comes as a bit of an anti-climax to tell you that Sabadell was relegated at the end of the 1987-88 season after finishing nineteenth in the new twenty team division. Five seasons in La Segunda followed and at the end of the 1992-93 season, the club finished bottom of the table. It was demoted two divisions however, when they failed to settle the players wages by the 31 July deadline. They bounced back from the Tercera after one season and apart from a season back in the fourth tier in 2006-07, they have spent the last 15 years or so in Segunda 2b. In truth, they have rarely looked like promotion material, with just two play-off appearances in that time. However the 2010-11 season was different. Sabadell secured the divisional title with two games of the regular season to play, and then beat SD Eibar on away goals to earn a place in La Segunda for the first time in 18 years. Sabadell started life in La Segunda on fire, winning six and losing just one of their first nine games. Then it all went a bit belly-up, with Sabadell winning just five more games in the entire season, finishing 18th. six points from safety.
Nova Creu Alat and the main stand after its 2010 re-fit
What about Nova Creu Alta. Well 44 years on from the inauguration, it still looks fresh and impressive. It has been helped by a couple of make-overs, the most significant coming in advance of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, when additional seating and media facilities were added. The ground hosted six matches during the Olympiad, but none of them came near to testing the revised 20,000 capacity, with Mexico's match with Ghana having the highest attendance of 6,000. The main stand was re-roofed in 2010 and the slightly curved ends were given a lick of paint to create the club's distinctive quarters pattern on the steps. This gives the impression that the ends are seated, a similar effect can be seen at Eldense's Pepico Amat stadium. Opposite the main stand is a bank of seats, and like the main stand this is slightly cranked. It's a credit to Sabadell's Municipal Council that the stadium looks so well tended, when others of a similar age look tired or have fallen into the states of disrepair.

Labels: , , ,