Elda – Estadio Nuevo Pepico Amat

Head north-west from Alicante, high into the Sierra del Cid and close to the Murcian border you’ll find the town of Elda. The local team, Club Deportivo Eldense was formed in 1921 and for a short spell in the mid 1950’s and early 1960’s graced La Segunda. However for the majority of its 90 years, the club has played in the Tercera.

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Eldense’s Campo El Parque pictured in 1961

Eldense first reached La Segunda in the 1956-57 season, finishing 16th and entering the relegation play-offs. Here they faced Calvo Sotelo and all seemed lost after a 4-1 defeat in Puertollano. However, in the second leg, Eldense racked up seven goals without reply and retained their position in the second division. The following season saw the club finish eighth, but they returned to the Tercera in 1959 when they finished bottom of Group II of La Segunda. A second spell in the second tier followed in 1962-63 and the club recorded it best finish with seventh place. Their frailties were exposed a year later, when Eldense finished rock bottom once again. During Eldense’s golden period, home matches were played at El Parque, a basic enclosed stadium with four open terraces. El Parque had opened in 1923 and was located on the current Calle Juan de la Cierva. Work had started on the new stadium around 200 metres south of El Parque when the club was in its final season in La Segunda.

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Opening day at the Estadio Pepico Amat (26/04/1964)

The Estadio Pepico Amat staged its first match on 26 April 1964, when Eldense entertained Hercules CF in the final league game of the season. Whilst they didn’t know it at the time, this was the only Segunda match that Eldense would stage at the Pepico Amat. It was a rather deceptive enclosure and looked as though it could hold more than its 8,000 capacity. The dominant feature is the single tiered stand with a shallow cantilevered roof and bright bands of red and blue steps, no seats, just steps. The roof was added in 1988, but everything else looks pretty much as it did back in 1964. Six steps of terracing run around the rest of the ground until you reach the South East corner. Here you’ll find a thin wedge of more substantial terracing which seems to have been inserted, almost as an afterthought or cut price homage to bigger, more famous spion kops. Everything was given a lick of paint when Eldense was promoted to Segunda B for the 2006-07 season, but they returned to the Tercera after one season.

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Pepico Amat seeing out its time in the sun as a new stadium beckons

The stadium’s days were however numbered. The municipality wanted the land and that of the adjacent annex for a new shopping & leisure complex. Work started in early 2011 on a 4,000 all-seated stadium just 300 metres to the south west of the existing ground. The €4.5m cost would be partly funded by the Valencian Government. Progress was slow, but finally, Eldense played their last game at the Pepico Amat on 26 August 2012 when they drew 0-0 with Orihuela. After much delay, and a home match played a few miles to the south west at the Municipal de Monòver, Eldense finally got to inaugurate the Estadio Nuevo Pepico Amat on 30 September 2012. The home side got of to a winning start with a 1-0 victory over CF Borriol in front of 2,000 fans

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The Nuevo Pepico Amat

The new stadium features a raised stand on the west side, which is covered by a cantilevered barrel-vaulted roof. Three open banks of red & blue seats complete the enclosure which also features an artificial pitch. The municipally-owned stadium also houses training facilities for mixed martial arts and gymnastics. Eldense won promotion back to Segunda B on 21 June 2014 with a 2-1 aggerate victory over Formentera in the play-offs. Following promotion to Segunda B, the stadium had its first sell-out crowd when Hercules CF paid a visit on 24 August 2014. Eldense’s stay in Segunda B ended after three seasons, and included a 12-0 defeat away to Barcelona B. The coach and four players were investigated for match fixing, but no charges were ever brought to book. As for the old Pepico Amat, well that’s still standing. The shopping & leisure complex was never built and the old stadium lays idle for much of the time.

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CD Eldense Official Website : http://www.cdeldense.es/

La Futbolteca club history : http://lafutbolteca.com/tag/cd-eldense/

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