Source: El Centrocampista
In 1999, former Real Murcia player and now businessman (and, interestingly, football agent) Quique Pina decided to form his own club. The remit was to rise through the divisions as rapidly as possible, utilising business contacts, favours and his knowledge of the game and the world of the football agents. Amazingly, the project succeeded. Ciudad de Murcia had reached la Segunda within four years.
By the middle of the “noughties”, the incredible scene of both Murcia clubs duking it out for a promotion spot to La Primera was visible. Real Murcia, the grand old veterans and Ciudad de Murcia, the young upwardly-mobile upstarts. Both would just miss out – which precipitated earth shuddering events.
Real Murcia had long found that their atmospheric, but crumbling stadium, La Condomina, stifled their ability to progress as a club and as a commercial entity. The ground had a limited capacity of 17,000 and was hemmed in on all sides by and assortment of apartments, shops and even a bull-ring. Want refreshments at the match? They were found at the bars across the street. By now, the ground was also shared with Ciudad de Murcia. The club could not continue in such surroundings and they orchestrated a move to a new stadium on the outskirts of town. Very much like Bolton Wanderer’s Reebok Stadium, the ground was in the middle of nowhere in particular and replete with its own retail park.
Unfortunately, Ciudad de Murcia were to make an even bigger move of their own. Struggling financially to keep up with the demands of maintaining a club at such a high level, Quique Pina managed to give Spain its very own Wimbledon/MK Dons story. Ciudad de Murcia was sold – registration, league position and squad – and relocated almost 200 miles away in Granada, under the name of Granada 74. That this project was also ultimately doomed did nothing to lift the gloom in Murcia.
(However, neither did it hamper Quique Pina’s career. He went on to become instrumental in another Granada club’s meteoric rise through the divisions – bizarrely with the help of Udinese, who he had become a Spanish ambassador for. He became president of Granada along with being “sporting advisor” to Cadiz and Tenerife).
The small band of fans that had grown to love Ciudad de Murcia and share in its high-speed run through the league had therefore been left without a club to support. An attempt to resurrect the club was made at the time, but was short-lived and once again doomed because of finances.
One spark of optimism does come from the ashes of the club, however, in the shape of a fan-owned club – bearing the colours of Ciudad de Murcia and part of the name. Club de Accionariado Popular Ciudad de Murcia (CAP Ciudad de Murcia for short!) have been born in the image of AFC Wimbledon and of FC United of Manchester (and have recently made links with that club). It may be some time before they will be able to give Real Murcia a derby match, though, being 5 levels apart – but their fans/owners, unlike many at this level, are in this for the long haul and are truly committed to the cause.
Back in Cartagena, following promotion to La Segunda in 2009, FC Cartagena had a tremendous season, almost gaining promotion to La Primera, only missing out in the last couple of weeks of the 2009-10 season. It has been a very quick drop from those heights, though.
Cartagena’s most famous son is the engineer Isaac Peral. He gave the world the first battery-powered submarine, which is on display in the town, by the Marina. Having spent most of the season flirting with relegation, FC Cartagena were given a lifeline by the amarillos submarinos (yellow submarines) of Villareal.
With Villareal’s first team squad’s relegaton to La Segunda, their B team automatically, despite a mid-table finish, were relegated in turn. The four relegation places at the bottom of the table had magically become three.
However, Cartagena fluffed their lines and were relegated some six points from safety, leaving La Segunda without their Murcian derby and themselves with a mammoth task to try and rebuild and return to the division. They will need to keep the support they have had this season – and in time try to convert some of those locals in their Real Madrid and Barcelona shirts – not an easy thing to begin to do, particularly at the level they will now find themselves.
Real Murcia maintained their spot in the division and will patiently await whoever may arrive to renew local hostilities. With the enthusiastic support and drive that the new kids on the block, CAP Ciudad de Murcia have so far exhibited – it may once again come from their own backyard, rather than the city down the road.
- By Stuart Howard-Cofield.