El Camino de La Liga

Welcome to El Camino de La Liga

The challenge: to visit every club in La Liga and see a match in their stadium in one season. That means 20 teams in 38 weeks.

The reason: to see more of Spain, to learn more about Spain, to meet new people and to see some good football.

Bienvenido al Camino de La Liga

El desafío: visitar cada club de fútbol de La Liga española y ver un partido en su campo en una sola temporada. Eso significa 2o equipos en 32 semanas.

La razon: ver más de España, aprender más sobre España, conocer gente nueva y ver buen fútbol.

View Spanish football stadiums in a larger map

Red = Visited Blue = Still to visit

Monday, 22 March 2010

Generation Superdepor

It’s 12 degrees and raining. On both sides of the road all you can see is green. The grass, trees and moss of the fields, woods and gardens. I’m in a Celtic land on my way to see a football match. However, I’m in neither Scotland nor Ireland. I’m in Galicia and I’m on my way to see the region’s only representative in Primera Division, Deportivo de La Coruña.

Galicia is located in the north west of Spain. If you imagine a map of Spain, it’s the part above Portugal. It’s a region that doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of Spain. It’s generally known for its green landscapes and heavy rainfall. Its roots are Celtic, so instead of Spanish guitar and flamenco there are bagpipes and flutes. Despite the rain, the people are warm and welcoming and, for me at least, are more similar to the Portuguese than to Andalusians or Madrileños. Galicia’s proximity to Portugal has also influenced the region’s language and it is one of three Spanish regions with two official languages. Galician is probably more comprehensible to Portuguese people than to Spanish people. Within Spain the region is very famous but abroad it’s less known. However, to most European football fans, Galicia should be familiar. The region’s two main football teams, Deportivo de La Coruña and Celta Vigo were, until fairly recently, regulars in European competitions. That was perhaps Galicia’s golden period in football terms. Both Deportivo and Celta competed at the top end of La Liga and, helped by a healthy contingent of Brazilians, played attractive, attacking football.

Unfortunately, those days seem to have gone for the moment. Celta Vigo play in the second division and don’t look like getting promoted any time soon. That leaves Deportivo as Galicia’s only representative in the top league.

Deportivo’s stadium, the Riazor, has seen some famous nights. Deportivo’s destruction of AC Milan in the 2004 Champions League quarter final being up there with the best of them. Trailing 4-1 from the first leg in the San Siro, Deportivo came back to beat the Italians 4-0 in the Riazor. In those times, the stadium was known around Europe as a tough venue to visit and it’s not difficult to see why. Despite being modern, the stadium has character to it. Located right next to the beach, the stadium is surrounded by narrow streets, apartments and bars, making the pre match atmosphere more exciting. The stadium itself, a 35,000 seater, is completely enclosed with the crowd very close to the pitch. The atmosphere is cranked up by Deportivo’s Ultras who have decorated their part of the stadium with a series of impressive murals. The Deportivo Ultras are organized, colourful and noisy. They are definitely up there with the likes of Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao. Some of the murals they have painted have a clear political message. These ones are dedicated to the left wing, Galician independence movement. The other murals are related to some of Deportivo’s legends and unsurprisingly they are all players from the modern era, such as Bebeto and Diego Tristan. When you look at the average age of the Ultras the majority of them are in their twenties and are therefore the generation of the Superdepor and Eurodepor. This was the name given to the Deportivo teams of both Bebeto and Tristan, the two most successful teams in the clubs 108 year history. This period lasted from around 1991 until 2005. As well as having international stars such as Rivaldo and Roy Maakay, Deportivo won their first and only league title during this period. They also won the Spanish Cup in the Bernabeu against Real Madrid during the Madrid giant’s centenary year. For the generation who grew up during this time, these memories will never go away. Deportivo challenged the best in Spain and Europe and were a team to be respected if not feared across the continent. Those times have gone for the moment but the legacy lives on and will almost certainly ensure a support base for generations to come.


  1. AtleticodeGlasgow24 March 2010 at 11:25


    I've been enjoying the posts after finding the blog through the madridatletico boys.

    Like a lot of your commentators,I'm very jealous,but wish you success as the season end draws near (need to think hard how you will top this!).

    I seem to have a similar set of interests as yourself,love travel and different cultures especially through the local football,so appreciate the angles you have taken on your posts.

    I haven't read them all yet,but intend to catch up with the set so far,with a glass or two of Rioja one night soon.

    My camino started in 1971 with a stadium tour of the Camp Nou,I return next week for the first time with my 7 year old son with tickets to see them play Athletic.Can't wait, as I have a soft spot for both sides, having been to Bilbao and the San Mames (again, unfortunately, no game during Summer).

    Please God don't let Messi get injured!

  2. Hey man,

    thanks for the post, I appreciate it. San Mames is probably still my favourite stadium in Spain, it will be a shame when Athletic leave for their new stadium.

    If you're ever in Madrid for a match let me know and we can meet up for a beer. I'm from Glasgow too, so I'm sure we have a lot in common.

  3. AtleticodeGlasgow24 March 2010 at 17:02


    Was there two weeks ago, with my 5 a side amigos for the Real-Sevilla match.Should have been in touch before then.

    Will return though,God bless Easyjet for the Edinburgh flight.I had even considered a one nighter for the Madrid derby this weekend,but 400 notes prohibitive.Surprised there were still tickets available.You going?

    By the way,the affinity to Atletico is by taking my boy to his first ever game,a 6-3 drubbing in the sunshine of an impressive 10 man Almeria in April '08.


  4. I'm flying back to Scotland on Sunday for a week. Otherwise I would have been going to see the derby.

    have you ever seen Rayo Vallecano? It's really worth catching one of their matches.

    I understand the affinity to Atletico, they are very entertaining

  5. Alright Jamie, Nice post. Galicia is probably the area of Spain I know least about. Never been, but will definitely get up there as soon as I get the chance. Fascinating read about the stadium, the ultras and the atmopshere...the Riazor does have that fame about it.

    Talking about Rayo Vallecano and Diego Tristan, I saw both at the weekend! Rayo fans are relentless arent they, was impressive. As for Tristan, he's not the player he once was. His team Cadiz also seem to be en route to relegation.

    Not many teams left to visit now eh!

  6. AtleticodeGlasgow25 March 2010 at 10:55

    Haven't seen Rayo,yet.They were away to Betis when I was over.I did drag my 9 mates to the Stadium though,to strike off another one on my camino.I'd like to think we done our bit by getting a few beers in what looked like the supporters bar. We also packed out the club shop,so when you're back in chilly Jockoland and you see a kid with a Rayo strip,he's probably one of ours.

    As for Atleti,entertaining?
    Yes, I have often found their defending comical.

    A summer swoop for Davie Weir?

  7. ElGuiri: I put up some photos from Riazor to show the murals. It was my second time in Galicia and I can tell you that's it's my type of Spain. I'm definitely a northerner. I don't know how you manage down there in Cadiz ;)

    AtleticodeGlasgow: Atletico buying Davie Weir, you never know. I think he is better than any of their current defenders.

  8. Hey Jaime,
    Another great post,you must be enjoying your trek.Its was a shame to see the Riazor not full against Real a few weeks ago.Typical fickle spanish fans I suppose.I remember watching the Gallician derby years ago on Sky and being really impressed by the atmosphere.
    In the end we are not meeting to watch the derby,GaryMadrid has family commitments.That being said we will have to meet soon.I'm sure we will be in Finbars in the next few weeks for a EPL game.
    All the best.

  9. James, I am late to the table, but I have bookmarked your sight. This is amazing. I hope if you appear on our podcast, you can talk about this amazing journey. I am so envious. I am planning to go in two years back to Spain for 3 weeks and try to cram in Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastian, Valencia and Bilbao and try to see as many games possible in la liga, europa, CL, and the lower leagues. Any valuable pointers would be much appreciated. Debating whether to come in Oct-Nov or Apr-May.