Having spent half their 85-year history in Spain’s top flight, Real Valladolid have remarkably little to show for their endeavours. A solitary piece of silverware won in 1984, the short-lived Spanish League Cup, is all that stands in the trophy cabinet. And now there’s not even top-flight status, given relegation in May 2014.
Valladolid have also made two cup finals, undertook two brief campaigns in Europe and finished in the top half of the top flight on a handful of occasions, the last being in 2000.
Still, every other weekend, some 20,000 make their way out west to the soulless surroundings of the Estadio José Zorrilla, the stadium built for the 1982 World Cup that replaced the original ground of the same name right in the city centre.
Real Valladolid had been founded close by, playing beside the city’s bullfighting arena, the merger of the city’s two most prominent clubs, Real Unión Deportiva and Club Deportivo Español, in 1928. Twelve years later they moved to the Estadio José Zorrilla, today known as the Viejo (‘Old’) Zorrilla, first named simply as the Estadio Municipal.
The Blanquivioletas, whose violet stripes were taken from the red of Real Unión and blue of Club Deportivo, first made the top flight in 1948. Their coach, for a short time at least, was Helenio Herrera, later to make his name at Barcelona and Internazionale.
This first ten-year spell in the Primera Liga included a cup final appearance in 1950, taking a strong Atlético Bilbao side to extra-time. During a further top-flight stint, Valladolid achieved a highest-ever fourth-place finish in 1963. Top goalscorer Delló Morollón won a league title with Real Madrid two years afterwards.
La Pucela, as Real Valladolid are also known, enjoyed another decent spell in the 1980s. It coincided with the opening of a new Estadio José Zorrilla, where later Real star Fernando Hierro started his career. He bowed out with a cup-final appearance against his future employers, a 1-0 defeat that led to Valladolid’s best run in three European campaigns. Arsène Wenger’s Monaco required penalties to beat them in the quarter-finals of the Cup-Winners’ Cup.
Recent team captain Valladolid-born Javier Baraja, began his career with his hometown club during another consistent spell in the early 2000s. His brother Rubén, a Spanish international, had also started here before collecting silverware with Valencia. With some 200 appearances, Baraja Jr led a team that won the promotional play-off for the Primera in 2012.
Real now need to regroup and point themselves back towards La Liga in 2015-16.
Set between the Autovía A62 and a Carrefour hypermarket in the city’s south-western outskirts, the Estadio José Zorrilla was one of Europe’s first out-of-town stadiums. Built for the 1982 World Cup – it staged the Spanish Cup Final weeks before – this 26,500-capacity ground stands open to the fierce winds that blow across this part of Spain.
The Estadio José Zorrilla is, in fact, the Estadio Nuevo José Zorrilla, the downtown original from the 1940s knocked down for commercial use. This was the only venue to be built from scratch for the Mundial.
It was also where the great France side of the 1980s played two group matches, the first featuring the farcical sight of Kuwaiti players leaving the pitch in protest before being ordered back by FA chief Sheikh al-Sabah.
Today’s VIPs are placed high up in the Fondo Norte, under the private boxes behind the goal. Home fans are below at the lowest level, the Grada Fondo Norte and, mainly, in the Grada Fondo Sur behind the opposite goal. Visiting fans are allocated half the Zone Este along the other sideline, facing the Zone Oeste, where more VIPs may occupy the best seats.
On match days, six special bus lines run to the stadium from 1hr before kick-off – the F1 goes via the bus station, F2-F5 via Plaza Mayor.
Of the regular buses, the No.8 goes every 12-15min run ten stops from Plaza de España to Mon. S. Lorenzo de El Escorial, by the Miguel Delibes Cultural Centre, the closest bus stop to the ground. The No.9 runs every 15-30min from Plaza Madrid to Calle Hernando de Acuña/21 esz Juan de Valladolid at the shopping complex behind the stadium a ten-minute walk away. Going back from Calle Hernando de Acuña, the No.9 calls at the bus and train stations.
A taxi from the city centre to the stadium should cost around €6-€8.
Tickets are available at the stadium taquillas, though the cheapest ones behind the goals are not sold on match days. The club recommend you purchase tickets through viagogo. For most games, tickets are only available for the Zona Este and Zona Oeste along the sidelines, at €35-€50. For the visits of Real Madrid and Barcelona, this rises to €70-€100. There’s also a downtown office at Plaza Mayor 13 – although it only deals with season tickets, it can help with current match-day information.
Charmingly, Real Valladolid merchandise is distributed by old-school local toys and games outlet Justo Muñoz. Branches in town include Paseo Zorrilla 100 and Calle Teresa Gil 24, by the Hotel Enara. There is no outlet at the stadium.
Home fans gather at the match-day Territorio Pucela bar between the Fondo Sur and Zona Oeste – otherwise there are no bars or cafés in the immediate vicinity. Note that the bar also opens on Sunday mornings when there’s a flea market set up in the car park behind the stadium.