San Sebastian – Zubieta

One of the unusual aspects of many European leagues to the casual British fan, is the presence of reserve teams from some of the bigger clubs. In recent seasons, the reserve teams of Athletic Club, Málaga, Barcelona, Sevilla, Villarreal and Real Madrid have all played in La Segunda. Not wanting to be left out, Real Sociedad B have also played in the second division.

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Zubieta – Real Sociedad’s retreat in the country

Formed in 1951, success came early to what was then and is still, essentially an under-21 team. After a few years in the regional leagues, the club changed its name to San Sebastian FC in 1957, and within 3 years beat UD Figueres in the play-off final to reach the second division. The reserve side acquitted itself rather well, before fate & regulations dealt them a cruel blow. In their first season they finished ninth, and in the following 1961-62 season, ended up fifth. However, the reserve team’s best ever season coincided with the first team’s worst ever finish in the Primera and relegation. As the reserves cannot play in the same division as the first team, San Sebastian FC was relegated.

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Zubieta in the 1990s

By the time of their next promotion in 1980, the league had been restructured, so instead of ascending to La Segunda they found themselves in Segunda B. And give or take a few seasons back in the Tercera that is where they have remained. The 1990s saw them change their name to Real Sociedad B and move form playing games at Atotxa, to the club’s new Anoeta home, on the southern outskirts of the city. In 1997,  Sociedad B moved out of town to the club’s sports complex at Zubieta, some 12km south of the city and next to the city’s horse racing track.

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Campo José Luis Orbegozo offers the perfect view of La Real’s future

Zubieta opened in 1980 and was originally the club’s training facility. It featured just the one pitch and a wedge of terracing, behind which were club offices, changing & recovery facilities. Major development of the site took place in 2004 at a cost of €12.5m, turning Zubieta into to a first class 21st century training facility, with five full size pitches, three of which have covered, seated stands. The main arena (the original pitch from 1980), is now named the Campo José Luis Orbegozo, after the club’s president from 1967-83. Needless to say, La Real’s youth and women’s teams also play here and whilst the set up is impressive, it is still essentially the club’s training facility. So you’re not going to get an electric atmosphere from a partisan crowd, just the ideal surroundings for young players to grow into professional footballers.

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Back in the city – Anoeta/Reale Arena

After a 59 year absence, Real Sociedad B returned to La Segunda. The club finished top of its sub-group and qualified for the play-offs. COVID protocols meant that the usual two-legged format was scrapped in favour of single knock-out ties. Their matches were played at the Estadio Francisco de la Hera in Almendralejo, and in the first match, they overcame FC Andorra by 2 goals to one, after extra time. A week later, and Real Sociedad B needed extra time again to beat Algeciras 2-1 and end a near six decade absence from La Segunda. Matches in the second tier will be played at Anoeta/Reale Arena.

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