Whilst Unión Deportiva Poblense has spent the last 35 years plying its trade in the Balearic regional leagues, this club based in the small town of Sa Pobla does have pedigree and an impressive home. More of which to follow, but first let’s have a look at the origins of the game in this corner of northeast Mallorca. Football has been played in Sa Pobla since the start of the twentieth century and it was sufficiently advanced for the local council to provide an enclosed area to the east of the town on the Carrer de Fortalesa. The imaginatively named Campo de Sa Fortalesa opened in 1922 and would go on to serve the town for the next 55 years.
On 1 October 1935, Sociedad Recreativa, Cultural y Deportiva Unión Sportiva Poblense was formed and took up residence at the Campo de Sa Fortalesa. The long shadow of the Civil War meant that the new club did not start to play competitively until the 1939-40 season. Promotion to the first regional division (the then fourth tier) was achieved in 1942 before the club debuted in the Tercera in 1954. In advance of promotion, some basic improvements were made to the Tribune on the west side of the enclosure. Over the next two decades, UD Poblense flitted between the Tercera and the Mallorcan regional championship. The early 1970s saw the Tribune expanded and concrete standing added around the remaining three sides of the ground. Expansion & restructuring of the leagues meant that the club was playing at the fifth level of Spanish football by the time things started to stir in the mid-1970s.
The Campo de Sa Fortesa had always been at best very basic and by the mid-70s the urban sprawl of Sa Pobla had surrounded the old ground. The Campo de Sa Fortalesa staged its final game on 16 January 1977, when the home team drew 0-0 with Gimnástic Tarragona. The local council had plans for a new sports facility on the southern outskirts of town, and to their credit did not hold back when it came to funding a new stadium. The new Camp Nou de Sa Pobla was designed by architect Jesús Pou Usallán and had a capacity of 8,000 held on a single tier of ten steps. The southwestern side of the ground featured an 80 metre long cantilevered roof, underneath which was housed a small seated directors box and the stadium’s changing facilities. Promotion had been won back to the Tercera in the penultimate season at Sa Fortalesa and when the new ground opened on 30 January 1977 (vs Ontinyent 0-0), UD Poblense was poised for lift-off.
UD Poblense’s rise coincided with the relegation to the Tercera of the island’s largest club, Real Mallorca. The 1979-80 season would see both clubs go head-to-head for the Tercera title that would earn promotion to Segunda B. Over the course of the season, UD Poblense would outscore and have a better defence than RCD Mallorca. They even beat them 2-0 in the home fixture, but their bigger neighbours edged them out by 65 to 63 points. The 1980-81 season saw the appointment of former player Lorenzo Serrer Ferrer as head coach, and the club’s first Tercera title was secured. With no automatic promotion, UD Poblense entered the playoffs but lost to the Aragonese club, Endessa Andorra. There would be no mistake in the 1981-82 season as Serrer Ferrer led the club to a second Tercera title and this time, promotion to Segunda B.
Serrar Ferrer took charge of the club’s first season in the third tier, guiding them to 15th, before moving to RCD Mallorca. In total, UD Poblense spent seven seasons in Segunda B, with a high finish of 6th in 1985-86, before returning to the Tercera in 1989. Here they have remained, mostly recording top ten finishes, occasionally reaching the playoffs, but never returning the third level of Spanish football. Following Real Mallorca’s relegation from La Segunda at the end of the 2016-17 season, Mallorca B team was demoted to the Tercera, freeing up space for a Balearic club that did not win promotion to Segunda B. Step forward UD Poblense and the chance to renew a rivalry that last burned intensely in 1980. Alas, the RFEF favoured CD Pena Deportiva from Santa Eulalia in Ibiza.
The Nou Camp de Sa Pobla does not quite have the pomp of old. The sturdy terraces still look as smart as they did in the 1980s, whilst the pitch, one of the best on the island, is lush and green. Unfortunately, time had taken its toll on the cantilevered roof, with the council deeming it unsafe in 2013. With no funds to build a replacement, the main cover was removed and its truncated replacement is less than 10 metres square. But let’s be positive; less cover means that there is more opportunity for the sun to shine on UD Poblense’s supporters and hopefully the club.