Coria del Rio – Estadio Guadalquivir
There are a number of great stadiums within a stones throw of the Rio Guadalquivir, but none are as close or for that matter, as old as the one found in the small Andalucian town of Coria del Rio. Standing less than 15 metres from the bank of Spain’s second longest river, the Estadio Guadalquivir has been home to Coria Club de Fútbol since its formation in March 1923, making the sixth oldest stadium in Spain.
Coria CF played its first match on 25 March 1923 (vs Fabié de Sevilla) and joined the regional leagues in 1925, winning the Liga Regional Andaluza in 1931. It soon established itself as a club with a pool of young talent, with a number of players joinng Sevilla FC & Real Betis in the 1940’s. The club first reached the Tercera in 1943 and remained there for five seasons. Its return to this level in 1955 was an altogether more successful affair, with the club finishing second in 1956-57 and only missing out on a place in La Segunda following defeat to Calvo Sotelo de Puertollano in the play-offs. Coria CF dropped to the regional leagues in 1968 and remained there until 1980. Upon its return to the Tercera, the club put together a run of nearly two decades of top half finishes, before final winning promotion to Segunda B in 1999. After finishing third in the league, Coria CF topped their play-off group, which also featured Mérida Promesas, Polideportivo Ejido and Tomelloso.
Promotion to Segunda B also earned Coria CF a place in the following season’s Copa del Rey, where they saw off Cádiz in the first round before losing to Lleida 3-5 on aggregate. The club also made a bright start to the 1999-00 season, but a run of just 2 wins in 20 matches left them anchored to the foot of table. The appointment of Carlos Orúe as coach led to a startling turnaround in form, with Coria CF winning 9 of the final 14 games of the season to finish 15th, 4 points clear of relegation. Orúe left for Cádiz at the end of the season, but under the guidance of former international midfielder Francisco, Coria CF continued to shine, and after a strong finish to the 2000-01 season, finished in sixth position. Francisco left for Real Jaén in the summer of 2001 and the 2001-02 season was to prove the club’s last in the third tier. Three coaches came & went as Coria CF dropped into the relegation positions in Week 5 and never escaped. They finished bottom of the table with just 30 points, 13 points off safety. The intervening years did see Coria CF drop to the Regional Preferente for 2 seasons in 2006. Now back in the Tercera, the club’s fortunes have seen an upturn, with it reaching the the Play-offs for Segunda B in 2011-12 & 2012-13.
The Estadio Guadalquivir is on the south eastern edge of town, hemmed-in on two sides by houses and shops, whilst the the silty river runs along its entire eastern side. It is almost certain that this area was used for football and other sports prior to the club enclosing this sandy patch of land in Mach 1923. Nothing remains of the original layout, but that doesn’t detract from this quintessential lower league enclosure. The main stand dates from the mid 1980’s and straddles the half-way line for 55 metres. Running the full length of the eastern side is a raised covered stand with five rows of concrete bench seating. This was built in 2002 as part of the major redevelopment of the stadium, which also saw new changing facilities added to the club buildings, that sit on the western side of the ground and are accessed through a tunnel just to the side of the main stand.
Now in its 92nd year, the stadium’s close proximity to the city of Sevilla means that both Real Betis & Sevilla CF make regular pre-season visits, as have other heavyweights, notably Juventus in 2009.