Ah, the glories of Twitter. Those of you who follow me probably already know this, but I threw out a note that everybody and their mamas should follow @estadios_spain. And for damned good reason, because here’s the deal:
Blogging is a thankless, hard-as-hell, time-sucking, joy-filled endeavor. That is, we do it because we love it. Nobody outside of the Huffington Post owners is getting rich off of blogging, so the joy is payment. You would be very hard-pressed to find a more complete embodiment of this notion than the gent behind http://estadiosdeespana.blogspot.com/. Chris Clements is working on a site that covers the history of football stadiums in Spain. All of ’em. It’s subtitle is “Detailed histories of over 250 Spanish stadiums. Very niche and ever so slightly indulgent”
True as hell, and also brilliant as hell. Want the history of the Mini Estadi? Sure, you do. He has it. Want a glowing, verging-on-loving history of the Camp Nou? Okay. It’s parsed by league, from Primera to Segunda B as well as by region, and it’s staggering. I mean I sit down, watch a match, froth at the mouth and voila, a post. But the research that goes into these posts, digging up photographs and delving into history, just makes me giddy.
It’s a first for me because I don’t think much of a great many blogs. And I sure as hell don’t think enough of them to devote a post to any of ’em. But I didn’t want this gem of a site to get lost in the comments, where somebody might one day say “Where was that comment about that crazy dude who has the history of all of Spain’s stadiums?” So it’s a post. Set aside some time, and tuck in. To whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt from the Camp Nou:
“There are stadiums great by reputation and association which, when first encountered, disappoint. The Nou Camp is not among them”. So said Simon Inglis, the doyen of all things “stadium”. I must admit that I was, from a distance, a little underwhelmed by the Camp Nou. Then I paid a visit and I got it loud and clear. In the couple of hours I spent wandering around the stadium, the museum and the whole complex, I started to comprehend the size, the history, the symbolism and above all the fact that it is “Més que un club”.
Back in the early fifties when the Camp Nou was first conceived, there was something of a “Stadium War” being conducted by the big clubs in Iberia. First off the mark was Real Madrid with their new stadium at Chamartin (OK it opened in 1947, but who’s counting). Portuguese giants Benfica opened their Estadio Da Luz in 1954 and supporting acts were provided in the form of Sevilla’s Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan and Sporting Lisbon’s Estadio Jose Alvalade. Barça, even with their souped-up version of Les Corts and its 60,000 capacity, were wary of being left behind, and very nearly over committed to the building of the new stadium, which in part, led to the barren years on the pitch during much of the 1960’s. The first stone was laid on 28 March 1954 and the proposed 66 million peseta project was to be financed entirely by club socios. Designed by local architects J. Soteras Mauri & F. Mitjans Miro, it would feature two huge tiers and a modern cantilevered roof over the west side.
The final years at Les Courts were very productive and saw the club win the league on two occasions (1952 & 53) and the cup on four occasions, including the 1957 final win against Espanyol at Montjuic. Then on 24 September 1957, the stadium was inaugurated with a match against a select Warsaw XI. The new stadium, with its 90,000 capacity had taken 3 and a half years to build and finally cost 288 million pesetas, an almost ruinous 425% over budget. Initially, the teams form matched their impressive surroundings, with league titles in 1959 & 1960 and Copa del Rey victories in 1959 and 1963, but with an ageing side and talisman László Kubala switching to Espanyol, the remainder of the sixties and early seventies were barren years on and off the pitch.
Club finances were not helped by the protracted saga that surrounded the sale of Les Corts, and when it was finally sold in 1967, all of the 226 million pesetas raised were used to pay off the club debt. With the club’s finances back under control, the club set about rebuilding the team and developing the next stage of the sports complex. 1971 saw two significant changes. First of all the Palau Blaugrana, an indoor sports hall, and an Ice Rink were added in 1971. This would be home to the club’s basketball, handball, volleyball, roller hockey & ice hockey teams, and generate valuable additional revenue as a concert arena. On the pitch, the great Dutch coach Rinus Michels was employed, and thanks to his persuasive powers, Johan Cryuff chose Barça ahead of Real Madrid. The league title returned to the Camp Nou at the end of the 1973-74 season and the Copa del Rey followed three years later. As for the stadium, well with the exception of two electronic scoreboards, it remained unaltered until the lead up to 1982 World Cup ….
And there’s so much more. I love this site, and I think you will, too. Have fun.