Guadalajara – Estadio Pedro Escartin

I know of two clubs called Club Deportivo Guadalajara. The first happens to be one of the biggest clubs in Mexico that has 11 league titles to its name. Then there is one that hails from the sleepy province of Guadalajara, in northern Castile-La Mancha. Formed on 10 January 1947, this Spanish club achieved very little for the first 60 years of its existence, but then things began to stir.

Estadio Pedro Escartin pictured in 2018

However, before we chart their rise to the big time, let us go back to the beginning. The city and province of Guadalajara had no representation in the national leagues prior to the Civil War. This continued in the years immediately after the end of the conflict, and perhaps with this in mind, the local government funded the building of a new football ground on the south western edge of town. The Campo el Productor was a simple enclosure, with just the one covered stand on that ran for 25 metres along the western side. Hard standing on the remaining three sides surrounded a basic dirt pitch. After formation, CD Guadalajara became the Campo el Productor’s first permanent residents. After a bright start in the local regional leagues, the club reached the Tercera in 1949 and even challenged for promotion to La Segunda in 1951. Things settled down soon after, that was until in 1965, when the club’s position in the league was suspended due to the local municipality selling the land on which the Campo el Productor stood. It was replaced with high-rise housing which still stands on the corner of Calle de la Constitución and Calle Cifuentes.

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It would take 2 years for the local municipality to agree a site for the new stadium. During this period CD Guadalajara, with the agreement of the regional football federation, entered a two-season-long hibernation. The club moved to the new ground at the start of the 1967-68 season, playing its first match on 17 September 1967 and beating Real Ávila by 2 goals to nil. The enclosure was initially called the Campo de Henares after the river that runs behind the west stand, but it was soon to take on its present name. So, who was Pedro Escartin? A former chairman? A famous player? Or even a local politician? No, he was a former referee, journalist and two-time manager of the Spanish national side. He had no obvious link with Guadalajara, but the Delegación Nacional de Educación Física y Deportes that organised and paid for the stadium, decided upon the name as a tribute to Escartin. Work continued over the next 2 years and the stadium was officially dedicated to Pedro Escartin on 1 April 1970 when Guadalajara played the Selección Española Amateur. Escartin himself refereed the first 5 minutes despite being 68 at the time. April 1974 saw the first match under floodlights, when Cádiz were beaten 2-1 in a friendly, and at the start of the 1974-75 season the first grass pitch was laid. In 1980, European champions Nottingham Forest and Tottenham played Guadalajara in a pre-season tournament, with Forest returning in 1981 to successfully defend the trophy.  Then, as with the club, very little happened to the stadium until 2006 when the Fondo Norte, a cantilevered covered stand behind the north goal with a capacity of 1000 was opened.

Estadio Pedro Escartin in the late 1960s

The new development had the desired effect, with CD Guadalajara finishing runners-up in Group XVIII of the Tercera, then after spending 46 seasons in the Tercera, Guadalajara defeated Las Palmas B in the play-off finals to win promotion to Segunda B. The club did very nicely in the four subsequent seasons, culminating in promotion to La Segunda in 2011. The club entered the 2010-11 play-offs in a rich vein of form and beat Orihuela and Sevilla Atletico to reach the final. Here they played CD Mirandés and they looked down and out when they lost the home leg 0-1 and then fell behind in the away leg. Two goals in the last 15 minutes however, turned the tie on its head and secured a place in the second division for the first time.

The main stand at the Estadio Pedro Escartin in 2018

The Estadio Pedro Escartin needed a bit of a scrub and polish before debuting in the second tier. The east side did have a bank of green temporary seats installed for the club’s first appearance in Segunda B, and these were replaced during the summer of 2011 with a larger open bank of seating, which spells out the club’s name in purple and white seats. This took the stadium’s capacity to 8,000. The southern end lay empty for much of the stay in La Segunda, but during the 2012-13 season a bank of purple seats was erected. However, given Guadalajara’s average attendance of little over 3,000, this did seem to be a bit of an unnecessary extravagance.

The Fonde Norte pictured in 2007

After a flying start to life in La Segunda, things started to look more than a little precarious, but Guadalajara dug deep, thanks in part to some previously undiscovered away form, they eventually clung on to their second-tier status. Their first foray in La Segunda came to an end however, in controversial circumstances. Despite finishing the 2012-13 season outside of the relegation places, and above much bigger clubs such as Real Murcia & Racing Santander, Guadalajara was demoted due to claims of financial irregularities lodged by the LFP. The club disputed the allegations and series of appeals fell on deaf ears, and so they returned to Segunda B. The club made two valiant attempts to return to the second tier, finishing fifth & third in seasons 13-14 & 14-15, but with diminishing finances, relegation to the Tercera followed in June 2016. As a result of the club’s decline, any further plans to develop the stadium have been put on hold. This may not be a bad thing, for as all good referees know, understated is the name of the game.

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