Football has been played in this corner of Andalucia since the turn of the 20th Century, and whilst in those early years, the city of Granada witnessed an almost inexhaustible hunger for the game, it lacked a principle team to hold the population’s focus. Such was the fragmented nature of football in the city, that by 1930 nearly a dozen clubs were playing at more or less the same regional level. This was to end on 6 April 1931 when Club Recreativo Granada was formed. In May of 1931, the club was offered a pitch to the north of the city, next to the prison and on the road to Jaén. The Campo de las Eras de Cristo, as it was known, had been used by many of Granada’s minor clubs throughout the 1920s.
In reality, the Campo de las Eras de Cristo was nothing more than a pitch on open land, and if Club Recreativo Granada wanted to progress, they needed income from the ever-growing number of spectators at their matches. So the club set aside the sum of 30,000 pesetas and made the short move to a new home. Over the course of 17 days, their very basic new home was enclosed using old wooden tables, doors & off-cuts. On 20 December 1931, the Campo de Las Tablas was inaugurated with a match against UD Andújar, which Club Recreativo won by a goal to nil. The club was to stay at Las Tablas for 3 years and in their final season they gained promotion to the second division. Work had started on a new ground in 1933 on a plot of land between the aforementioned prison and the Plaza de Toros. “Los Cármenes” would cost 110,000 pesetas and be officially inaugurated on 23 December 1934, with a league match against Malactiano (CD Málaga). The home side prevailed by two goals to one.
The new ground was a basic square stadium, uncovered in all four sides. A small seated area for the club officials was on the southern side, which also housed the changing rooms and offices. The Civil War ensured that any national leagues would be put on hold until 1939, but when footballing hostilities resumed, Club Recreativo Granada changed its name to Granada Club de Fútbol. The newly monikered-club finished runners-up in the second division but missed out on the promotion play-offs by a single point to Cádiz. They did not have long to wait however, as promotion was gained the following year via the play-offs. Over the next 25 years, the club had 3 spells in the Primera, none of which lasted longer than 4 seasons. However they did reach their one and only final of the Copa del Rey in 1959, losing 4-1 to Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Granada CF’s most successful period in the Primera commenced with promotion at the end of the 1967-68 season. Los Cármenes underwent its only significant facelift with the building of a new two-tiered stand on the southern side of the ground, which was inaugurated on 24 November 1968 with a 2-0 victory over Málaga. In keeping with the rest of the ground, the stand was white and very basic, with the roof supported by thin pillars set three rows from the back. Somewhat startling was the fact that despite running the length of the pitch, it only had two narrow vomitories (exits) on the upper tier. sandwiched between the upper tier and the lower terrace was a thin row of covered palcos or rudimentary private boxes.
The club remained in La Primera for a further 8 seasons, achieving two sixth-place finishes in 1971-72 and 73-74, remaining unbeaten at home throughout the 71-72 season. Following relegation from the Primera in 1976, the club flitted between the second and third levels, never getting close to a return to the top level. By the mid-’90s Granada CF was a permanent fixture in Segunda B and the decision was made to leave Los Cármenes for a new stadium in the south of the city. Surely the Estadio Municipal Nuevo Los Cármenes would lead to new revenue and extra impetus. The plan couldn’t fail… The last game at the old stadium was a 1-1 draw with Sevilla B on 21 May 1995.
The national team staged two full internationals at the old Los Cármene. Cyprus was the first visitors in 1971, and they were sent packing with a 7-0 defeat. Next up was Mexico, who lost 2-0 in 1978. Los Cármenes also staged a B International. On 25 March 1981, Spain played England and won 3-2. With the exception of the building of the new stand in the late 1960s, Los Carmenes remained relatively unaltered and unadorned throughout its 60 years as a football ground. It had the indignity of being used as a car park for a few years before being demolished in the late ’90s. The site is now a covered in apartments, but at least the ground is remembered on Calle del Granada Club de Fútbol, which runs along the northern perimeter of the old ground.