Alicante – Campo de La Viña & Campo de Bardin
This is the story of Hércules de Alicante Club de Fútbol (don’t worry we will refer to them as Hércules from now on!), from formation to their move to the Estadio José Rico Pérez. A tale that pre-dates the opening of their current stadium by 60 years and follows the toing and froing of the club, both on and off the pitch.
We start back in 1914 and the formation of a youth team. Its members struck upon an inspirational name, that of ancient Greek hero Hercules. Hércules was a useful youth team and formed a senior section on October 20 1922. However they only really started to prosper, when an older and more successful local rival hit the rocks. Club Natación Alicante was the footballing arm of the local swimming club and in the 1920’s were the dominant local club in the city and had form in the Copa del Rey, reaching the quarter finals in 1924. However, after losing the plot in a match at Valencia CF in February 1927, the Valencian Football Federation threw the book at them and rather than take the fine, the footballing arm of the swimming club was wound up.
Hércules returned to a renovated and expanded Campo de la Viña for the start of the 1954-55 season. Unlike the Campo de Bardin, La Viña did not have a covered stand. It did however have a higher capacity and resembled neighbouring Elche CF’s Altabix ground. It was basic, but acceptable by 1950’s standards. After two seasons in the top flight, Hércules dropped to La Segunda. Worse was to follow in 1959 when the club dropped to the regional Tercera. Promotion was secured back to the second tier a year later, thanks in no small part to the 17 goals scored by a 21 year-old loanee, a certain Luis Aragonés. Remarkably, La Viña was not finished as a top flight stadium, as Hércules won a place back at the top table in 1966. The club had struggled financially for much of the past two decades, but things were about to change.
At the end of the sixties, José Rico Pérez began his presidency, and so would begin the most successful period in the club’s history. Pérez made his fortune as a builder and was instrumental in the club’s return to La Primera in 1974. He also negotiated a deal with the local council that saw the sell of the land that La Viña occupied, and the building of the stadium that carries his name. La Viña had one last glorious day, when Hércules beat Córdoba 2-0 on 19 May 1974 to earn promotion back to La Primera. On 3 August 1974, Hércules played host to FC Barcelona in a friendly to mark the opening of the Estadio José Rico Pérez.