Burgos – El Plantio

It is probably easier to talk about the senior teams in Burgos in three distinct phases. The first club is the original Burgos Club de Fútbol, founded in 1936 as Gimnástica Burgalesa Club de Fútbol, they played their matches at the Campo de Laserna and reached the Tercera in 1943. Gimnástica moved to the Estadio de Zatorre in 1944 which was located just south of the city centre, around 100 metres from the southern bank of the Rio Arlanzón. The club was renamed Burgos Club de Fútbol in 1948 and reached La Segunda four years later. Although it was not a successful season, they finished bottom and well adrift, the club gained valuable experience. Three seasons later and with two Tercera championships to their name, Burgos CF returned to La Segunda. Once again, the stay lasted a season, but it was a much closer affair, finishing just three points from safety.

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It took a further four seasons of graft in the Tercera before Burgos CF returned to La Segunda in 1961-62. Stability was achieved with a series of mid-table finishes and on 13 September 1964, Burgos officially opened El Plantio with a 2-0 victory over SD Indautxu. To start with, El Plantio was a two-sided stadium with open ends. It was built on the north bank of the Rio Arlanzón, around a kilometre east of the Estadio de Zatorre and featured a covered, seated tribuna on the north side of the stadium. To the south and a stone’s throw from the river, stood an open terrace, which was eventually covered in 1971. Burgos CF continued to look comfortable throughout the sixties, neither troubled by relegation or seriously pushing for promotion to La Primera. That changed, however, in season 1970-71. With a practically flawless home record of 16 wins and just 3 draws, El Plantio became the rock on which the club built promotion. In the end, 45 points and a superior record against its rivals, Deportivo La Coruna, Cordoba & Rayo Vallecano, all of whom also gained 45 points, secured promotion to La Primera for the first time.

El Plantio in 1970 with the south side still open to the elements

Burgos CF maintained their excellent home form during the first season in the top flight, and whilst they failed to win on the road they picked up important points, notably a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. In the end, it came down to the final weekend of the season, but before you get too excited, the final fixtures favoured Burgos CF. Of the three teams who could go down; Deportivo La Coruna, Sevilla & Burgos CF, Sevilla had drawn the short straw by having to play away at Real Madrid. Sevilla needed to win, whilst Burgos CF travelled to La Coruna, knowing a point would keep them up if Sevilla failed to win. With Sevilla 0-2 down after 20 minutes, Depo and Burgos CF played out a tame 0-0 draw, a result that kept both teams up, whilst an eventual 1-4 defeat saw Sevilla relegated. Their second season in La Primera was far more straightforward as they finished eighteenth and last in the league. Home form was again very good, with just three defeats, but on its travels, Burgos was dire. Sixteen of their seventeen matches ended in defeat, with their only success, a 2-1 win at Sporting Gijón, scant reward as they headed back to La Segunda.

El Plantio readies itself for the first crack at La Primera (1971)

It took three years to get back to La Primera, but they did so in style, winning the league with 51 points. The following season in La Primera (76-77) was a close affair, but 32 points secured fourteenth place. During the season, work started on extending El Plantio, with two end stands constructed bringing the capacity to 16,500. The 1977-78 season brought fewer points (31), but a highest final place finish of twelfth. It was still an incredibly tight affair and another convenient 0-0 draw on the final day ensured safety for both Burgos CF and their opponents Hercules. 1978-79, Burgos CF’s third consecutive season in the top tier, was reasonably comfortable and thirteenth place was achieved, but their stay in La Primera came to an end following a poor showing in 1979-80. Just 20 points were won, only three on their travels and whilst they were unaware of it at the time, Burgos CF would never return to La Primera. Back in La Segunda, Burgos CF struggled to compete on the pitch, whilst off it, debts were mounting up. A ninth-place finish in 1981-82 was of little consequence as the club was demoted to Segunda B after failing to pay outstanding wages by the season’s end. The 1982-83 season was to be the club’s last, for although the third place was achieved, the financial situation became unsustainable and on 24 May 1983 the club was wound up. The club’s reserve side, Burgos Promesas had just won promotion to the Tercera, so it was decided to make a complete break from the failed Burgos CF and Real Burgos CF was formed, taking over the place of Burgos Promesas in the Tercera.

Nice club crest. I just wish they had spent as much time designing the kit.

Now a word of warning to the fashionistas among you. Real Burgos played in a combination of colours so awful that I feel duty bound to caution you in advance of any reference. Red, brown and white were the club’s colours and not surprisingly, this has yet to resurface as a kit of choice in Spain or for that matter, anywhere else. Real Burgos set about the Tercera at a furious pace and won the title in 1983-84, but lost out to Barcelona B in the playoffs. Another Tercera title was won in 84-85 and this time promotion was won with a playoff victory over SD Huesca. Despite finishing in second place in their first season in Segunda B, Real Burgos had to wait a season to progress further. 1986-87 saw the club finish fourth, but with the promotion places extended, Real Burgos won a place in La Segunda. The next two seasons saw Burgos finish in relatively lowly positions, but with little threat of relegation. Then in 1989-90, Real Burgos took the next step, dominating the division from start to finish and securing promotion at San Mamés against Bilbao Athletic. So, in seven short seasons and a decade after their predecessors played there, Real Burgos had reached La Primera.

El Plantio in 1991 – Red, brown & white… Um!

Possibly shocked by the sheer temerity of Real Burgos’s colour scheme, the great and good of La Primera did seem to be caught unawares by the newcomers. Real Madrid lost both league games to Real Burgos and a creditable 0-0 draw was gained at the Camp Nou, one of nine stalemates on the road that season. In fact, that first season in the top flight was built on a miserly defence and by the end of the season, the total of 27 goals conceded was the lowest in the division. The following season saw the club finish in ninth place, just shy of the UEFA Cup places. The 92-93 season saw the club start with an impressive 4-0 victory over Real Sociedad. They also won the final game against Osasuna by a goal to nil. Unfortunately, there were only two other victories in the 36 matches in between and Real Burgos finished rock bottom with 22 points. The following season in La Segunda was once again overshadowed by a series of financial problems, triggered by relegation and the Federation’s insistence that the club becomes a public limited sports company or S.A.D. The club finished one from the bottom, but with outstanding debts, the club was demoted an additional division. Such was the internal turmoil, that Real Burgos didn’t compete in the Tercera in 1994-95, but did play in the league a year later, finishing a disappointing tenth. Now Real Burgos did not play a game after May 1996, but technically still exist. Owned by the club President, Juan Antonio Gallego, they sat in a time warp, a footballing equivalent of Miss Havisham, until being dusted off in 2011 and now play in the lower reaches of the regional league.

El Plantio & its neighbouring Plaza de Toros in 2011

With Real Burgos inactive, José María Quintano decided to resurrect the name of Burgos Club de Fútbol. Starting the lowest levels of the Castile-Leon regional leagues, the club won three successive promotions to earn a place in Segunda B for the 1997-98 season. The first season was to prove a difficult step up in class and relegation was only just avoided. Over the next few years, however, Burgos finished in the top four places, before eventually winning Segunda B and promotion to La Segunda in June 2001. The stay in the second flight lasted just a season, demoted not on performance, but the club’s refusal to become a S.A.D. Back in Segunda B the club continued to pepper the top four spaces, but miss out in the playoffs. In fact, Burgos only finished outside of the top four in Segunda B in its first season and in season 2007-08, but boy did they finish outside of the top four. Just nine wins and forty points saw Burgos finish eighteenth and relegation to the Tercera followed. Here they stayed until June of 2011, when they won promotion back to Segunda B, only to return to the Tercera a year later. Promotion to the third tier was once again achieved in June 2013, and here they have remained.

Just like football in Burgos, El Plantio has faded

To many Spanish football fans, El Plantio is the very epitome of an Estadio Inglés, or English style stadium. Square, with four stands close to the pitch, El Plantio is also among the coldest stadiums in Spain, rivalling Valladolid’s Nuevo Jose Zorrilla and Soria’s Nuevo Los Pajaritos for the title. However, the stadium did look rather warm when in 1991, blocks of red, tan and white seats were installed on three sides of the ground. Unfortunately, the Iberian sun got to them and the red and tan seats faded, leaving the three stands to look like large blocks of Neapolitan ice cream. Despite being propped cantilevered stands, these stands offered excellent views, whilst the south stand or Lateral was terraced except for a 60 metre stretch of benching on the lower tier.

A new look for El Plantio, but will it kick start a renaissance for football in Burgos?

Plans for the renovation of El Plantio have been floating around for a number of years. Whilst the main Tribuna, built in 1964, is still structurally sound, the end fondos and lateral terrace had not aged well. So in the summer of 2018, work began on a €5m project to redevelop the other three sides of the stadium. The covers at each end of the stadium were replaced with fully cantilevered roofs, whilst the southern lateral stand was demolished. Work was finally completed in the autumn of 2019. Functional rather than exciting, El Plantio’s design ensures that when full, it is an intimidating arena. Regrettably, this has not happened on many occasions for the Burgalés in the past few decades.

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