Toledo – Estadio Salto del Caballo

Toledo is a city that has been steeped in history from Roman times, but little of any consequence has been the product of its football clubs. 50 miles south of Madrid, football came to the capital of Castile-La Mancha at the turn of the twentieth century and by the 1920s many modest clubs had sprung up. Some of the leading teams came from the strong military presence in the town and another, Fábrica Nacional de Armas was a works team from the local armaments factory. Attempts were made to form a stronger representative for the city and Sociedad de Foot-ball Toledo was founded in April 1928. On 31 May 1931 the city’s first enclosed football ground, the Campo de Palomarejos was opened with a friendly vs Real Madrid (1-3), and in June 1932, Sociedad was renamed Toledo Foot-ball Club. All this was to no avail as the city of Toledo suffered terribly during the Civil War and all traces of the club were gone by the end of 1936.

Campo de Palomarejos in 1956

Having been a Republican stronghold in the early days of the war, the town took a fearful battering and much of the infrastructure needed rebuilding. After the war, the city of Toledo became a cause célèbre for Franco and it is a measure of the damage and the lack of a credible team in the city, that Toledo did not gain a place in the “restructured” La Segunda in 1939. In fact, it took until July 1941 for a new club, Club Deportivo Toledo to register with the National Football Federation. The club took up residence at Campo de Palomarejos and made it to the Tercera for the 1943-44 season. The Tercera title was won in 1949-50, but there were also descents into the local regional leagues. By the early 1970s, the club was in need of a lift. Fortunately, the local municipality had plans for the land on which the Campo de Palomarejos stood, and was about to make an offer.

Approaching the end of its days. Campo de Palomarejos in 1971

As the city expanded westwards, the land on which Campo de Palomarejos stood was earmarked for a new clinic. CD Toledo played its last match at the old stadium on 30 January 1972 (3-1 vs La Fábrica Española de Magnetos). The club decamped to the Campo Municipal Carlos III, whilst the new stadium was built around a kilometre to the east of Palomarejos, close to the Rio Tagus. The new stadium was named Estadio Salto del Caballo (Leaping Horse Stadium) as it was built on the site of the old military stables of the Alcázar la Academia de Infantería. It was inaugurated on 25 November 1973 with a match against Atlético Madrid, for whom Luis Aragonés scored the first goal in a 1-3 victory for Atléti. Whilst the new stadium was a big improvement on what had gone before, it was still pretty basic. It featured three open banks of seating, with the only cover provided by a very short stand at the rear of the seating on the western side to the enclosure. The players & officials facilities were housed in a wedge-shaped building, on top of which was a flower-bed that was shaped in the style of the club crest.

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Salto del Caballo in 1974

CD Toledo didn’t do much leaping around at their new stadium and in fact, their next appearance in the Tercera, in season 1977-78, had more than a hint of a leg-up as it was due to the restructuring of the Tercera. Four years later, however, the club was back in the regional league and facing financial ruin. The next six seasons were spent in the regional leagues but at least the financial worries had diminished when CD Toledo returned to the Tercera in 1987-88. Two seasons later, with their second Tercera title to their name, they won promotion to Segunda B. CD Toledo’s debut season was a promising affair with the club finishing in a comfortable ninth place with a total of 37 points. 1990-91 was a different story and in a tight division CD Toledo finished in seventeenth position and was relegated due to an inferior head to head record with Real Balompedica Linense. This proved to be a minor setback for under the presidency of Emiliano Carballo and with a third Tercera title under their belt, CD Toledo was about to enter the most successful period of its history.

Estadio Salto del Caballo – Note the eagle design at the southern end

Back in Segunda B for the 1992-93 season, CD Toledo secured third place with a total of 51 points. They were joined in their play-off group by Deportivo Alavés, Real Jaén & Sant Andreu and after swapping home defeats with Alavés, entered the final match needing to beat Real Jaén to win promotion. This was done in style with a 3-0 victory and after two successive promotions, the club had made it to Spain’s second tier for the first time. The progress didn’t stop there, for in their first ever season in La Segunda, CD Toledo turned on the style. In a strong division that contained Espanyol, Real Betis & Real Mallorca, CD Toledo finished fourth and entered a relegation/promotion play-off with Real Valladolid. 180 minutes from a place in La Primera, CD Toledo continued their good home form winning the first leg 1-0 at Salto del Caballo. A week later on 29 May, the Nuevo Estadio José Zorrilla was packed with a partisan crowd who witnessed the home side take apart CD Toledo and win 4-0.

Salto del Caballo in 1995

Undeterred, Toledo planned for the future and this included the building of a new stand to replace the open seating & old “Tribuna” on the west side of the ground. The new stand was an altogether more impressive structure, with additional seating in the paddock area and two tiers of executive boxes. This was topped off with a slim green cantilevered roof. The popular north Fondo and east side were also re-seated. The new stand on the west side meant that players and officials no longer needed to change in the wedge-shaped building on the southern side. This sadly lost its a flower-beds and was concreted over and given a lick of green paint.

Built with loftier aspirations in mind. The main stand at Salto del Caballo

What a shame then that CD Toledo never again reached the heights of the 93-94 season. With coach Gonzalo Hurtado still in charge, they finished the 94-95 season in eleventh but fared better in the Copa del Rey. Victories over Racing Ferrol, Real Murcia & Real Valladolid saw them reach the last 16, before losing out to Real Mallorca. Hurtado was replaced midway through the 1995-96 which saw a slight improvement with a final placing of ninth. Mid-table finishes were achieved in 96-97 and 97-98 before coach Gregorio Manzano steered the club to a seventh-place finish. The turn of the century, however, saw CD Toledo lose its place in La Segunda. With a measly total of 10 wins and just 34 goals in their 42 matches, the club finished in bottom place and their seven-season-Segunda-sojourn was over.

Salto del Caballo – Still waiting for the leap back to the big time

The two decades since CD Toledo dropped from La Segunda, have been more or less equally shared between stays in Segunda B and the Tercera. There have been a couple of financial crises and the occasional hope of reaching the playoffs for La Segunda. These have been quickly tempered by relegation back to the fourth-tier. In all likelihood, that 7-year period at the end of the millennium is about as good as it is going to get for CD Toledo, but Salto del Caballo in its present form is a monument to that success.

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