Club Gimnàstic de Tarragona, or Nàstic as they like to be known, can trace its roots back to 1886, when as the name suggests, a gymnastics club was formed for the middle classes in Tarragona. Other sports such as boxing, fencing and cycling followed, but it wasn’t until 1914 that a football section was formed, when local team Club Olímpic de Tarragona was absorbed into the club and their red & black colours adopted. Club Gimnástico de Tarragona, as they were originally known, played friendly matches before joining the second division of the Campeonato de Cataluña in 1918. Those early days saw matches played at Camp de Les Germanetes, a basic field near the Calle Estanislao Figueres. However, thanks to an increase in support and income, the club moved to its own ground in 1922. The Campo de la Avenida de Cataluña held 9,000 spectators and opened on 20 February 1922 with a match between Bacelona and FC Espanya.
Nàstic were never part of the upper tier of Catalan football in the those early years and only made it the the Catalan first division in 1927. They soon dropped back down and were firmly entrenched in the regional league by the time the national championship started. In fact Nàstic did not appear in the Tercera until 1942, by which time the Campo de la Avenida de Cataluña had been significantly damaged by a fire in 1938. Luckily help was at hand in the shape of new club president Agustín Pujol. With the help of Pujol’s money, the stadium was redeveloped and the roof from the Barcelona’s Les Corts stadium was purchased and reassembled in time for the start of the 1945-46 season, Nàstic’s first in La Segunda. An impressive first season saw the club finish third and enter a relegation/promotion play-off with Espanyol. The tie went to a second match, which Espanyol won 3-0, but a year later the disappointment was forgotten as Nàstic finished second in the league and won automatic promotion to La Primera. The club was also a semi-finalist in the Copa del Rey, beating, Sporting Gijon, Racing Santander & Barcelona before Espanyol got the better of them again.
Nàstic more than held there own during the 1947-48 season, even becoming the first side to win at Real Madrid’s newly built Estadio Chamartin. The end of the season saw the club finish in a creditable seventh place. The following season was more difficult, but the club rallied late in the season to secure a ninth place finish. With safety guaranteed, Nàstic somewhat suspiciously lost 1-4 at home to Deportivo La Courna, thus handing the Galicians top flight security with their only away win of the season and sending CD Alcoyano down to La Segunda. It all unravelled rather spectacularly however in the 1949-50 season, when Nàstic finished 13th, conceding nearly four goals a game. Heavy ten-goal defeats were endured at Barcelona and Celta, whilst Sevilla took the trouble to slam nine past the hapless Catalans. Nàstic entered the relegation/promotion play-off against, you’ve guessed it… CD Alcoyano. The scales of justice tipped in favour of Alcoyano as they ran out 6-3 winners. Nàstic struggled on In La Segunda for a few seasons before dropping to the Tercera in 1953. There the club stayed until the early 1970’s, reaching and losing in the play-offs on eight occasions in the intervening years. When Nàstic finally won promotion to La Segunda in 1972, they did so in a spanking new stadium built to the east of the city.
The last game at the Avienda de Cataluña was against Girona on 23 January 1972. The site was sold to the municipality who in turn built the club’s new facilities. The new stadium bore the name of the the club president José Luis Calderón, who was instrumental in the negotiations and construction of the new site, and had an original capacity of 12,000. It featured three sides of decent sized terracing and a modern two tiered main stand with a cantilevered roof. This roof also extended beyond the touch-lines to cover the seated corner areas of the stand. The stadium hosted its first match on 1 February 1972 when Nástic played Barcelona in a friendly. Nàstic hung around in La Segunda for four seasons, finishing as high as sixth in 1973-74, but this was to be the club’s last sustained stay in the second tier for nearly thirty years. The majority of this period was spent in Segunda 2b, but Nàstic dropped as low as the regionalised Tercera in 1986 & 1990. The club changed its name to the Catalan version, Club Gimnàstic de Tarragona in 1982, along with the name of the stadium which became the Nou Estadi de Tarragona.
Finally, after three decades of mediocrity, Nàstic started to get it’s act together. The first signs came with promotion to La Segunda at the end of the 2000-01 season, but the stay in the second level was a short one, with the club outclassed, finishing in 20th and last place. Two years later and a second place finish and victory over Real Madrid B, Ourense and Lanzarote in the play-offs saw the club promoted back to La Segunda. A decent seventh place finish was achieved in 2004-05 and then, after a slow start to the 2005-06 season, Nàstic took-off with a run of results that saw the club secure second place and a return to La Primera for the first time in 56 years. The Nou Estadi would however, require some work to get up to scratch and maximise gate income. Some work had been carried out during the summer of 2005 after the south terrace was deemed unsafe and the club erected an almost identical replacement, albeit seated. Then, during the summer of 2006, the club built a large anfiteatro on the east side of the ground. This extended the capacity to 14,500 for the 2006-07 season.
Life back in the top division was not exactly a bed of roses and whilst the club avoided the hidings that it had received 56 years previous, 28 points from 38 games saw Nàstic finish bottom of the league. Nástic has struggled upon its return to La Segunda with relegation being avoided on the last day of the 09-10 & 10-11 seasons. Poor form and reduced budgets eventually caught up with them and the club and its fans endured a wretched 2011-12 season. Nástic won just 6 of their 42 matches and finished bottom of the table, five points adrift of next from bottom CD Alcoyano. To reduce costs, the anfiteatro at the rear of the east Preferente was closed. The rows of seats are now draped in advertising banners.
After a three season spell in Segunda B, Nàstic returned to the second tier in June 2015. As for the Nou Estadi, well its future is up in the air. This bright and compact stadium may have excellent views and a cracking atmosphere, but it offers little in the way of additional revenue to the club or municipality. With Tarragona winning the right to host the 2017 Mediterranean Games, plans were drawn up for a 20,000 seat arena at Camp Clar, to the north west of the city on the road to nearby Reus. However, talk is cheap; certainly cheaper than a new stadium! Given the unstable nature of the Spanish economy, the new arena wasn’t built and the Nou Estadi’s death warrant remained unsigned.