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100 years of football in Girona

From Unió Deportiva Girona to Girona Futbol Club

black and white photograph of a football team in front of a goal

The exact date of the birth of football in Girona is not easy to determine, but it looks like it happened in the early 20th century. The oldest club in Catalonia, Palamós FC, was founded in 1898, while the most important Catalan club, FC Barcelona, was founded a year later, in 1899.

In the city of Girona, we know that, in 1903, football matches were played on the Camp de Mart, in Devesa Park, and three years later, the first club of the city was founded with the name of Futbol Club Gironí.

From 1909 onwards, in the local press, we find the first reports of football matches in Girona.

In one of those, reporting on a match between the teams Sport Club Ampurdanés and Sport Gerona, the basic rules of the sport are explained to the readers: 'At each end of the field there are wooden frames, inside which you have to pass the ball to score a point (goal), as long as you don't do it with your hands or your arms'.

black and white clipping from a newspaper in Catalan

(Click here to see the full report)

The journalistic reports of this period are full of English words - such as 'team', 'goal', 'goalkeeper', 'off-side' or 'kick' - which had not yet been translated into Catalan, and others such as 'corner' or 'penalty' that would end up being part of the commonly used Catalan language.

black and white vintage photograph of crowd who are watching a football match

During the second decade of the 20th century, many football clubs spread in the city, among which are Girona Sport Club, Gerunda FC, Catalan, Girona Sports Centre or Strong, which as its name suggests was the most powerful of them. They were all amateurs, like Ateneu Social Democràtic, which was formed by workers coming from the Grober factory.

The existence of many small amateur clubs meant that none of them had enough potential to be able to compete at the regional level. This changed on 13 February 1921 with the foundation of Unió Deportiva Girona, which quickly became the most important team in the city.

black and white sepia photograph of a football team in front of a goal

Unió Deportiva Girona promoted the construction of the first football stadium, the Vista Alegre stadium, which was inaugurated on 29 June 1922. For the opening ceremony, a match against FC Barcelona was organised. At that time, FC Barcelona was the Spanish champion team. Its chair was Joan Gàmper and the team had football stars like Josep Samitier or Ricardo Zamora.

black and white postcard showing a crowd standing in a line watching a football match

Unió Deportiva Girona was dissolved in 1930 due to financial debts arising from the construction of the stadium, but the gap left by UDG was immediately filled by a new club: Girona Futbol Club - founded just a few days later. Over the years, Girona FC became the most important club in the city and the most successful.

Girona FC saw a golden age in the early 1930s, thanks to players such as Josep Iborra and Domènec Balmanya (who would later play for FC Barcelona). The main success was in the 1935-36 season, when the team took part in the play-offs to the First Division. Eventually though they failed to qualify and, in the following years, the Spanish Civil War drastically reduced football activity.

black and white photograph, a woman holds a bunch of flowers while, around her, footballers stand on a football pitch

Another important milestone for Girona football was the inauguration of the Montilivi stadium in 1970. This is the stadium where Girona FC currently plays. For the inauguration, they held the Costa Brava competition, with the participation of top teams such as Espanyol and Valencia from the Spanish league, Borussia Neunkirchen from Germany and San Lorenzo de Almagro from Argentina.

black and white photograph, a football team lines up on pitch in a crowded stadium, a person at the beginning of the line holds a sign saying 'Borussia de Neukirchen'

The construction of the new stadium did not bring the expected results and the team remained in lower divisions for many years. In the 2016-2017 season, the team achieved the desired promotion to the First Division and could finally play with the top teams of the Spanish league like FC Barcelona or Real Madrid.

colour photograph, Girona football team in an open-top bus celebrating, surrounded by fans in city streets, waving flags and football scarves

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