Every city has its local team, and A Coruña is no different. Here it is Deportivo La Coruña that carries the banner, and it has done so very well over the years, representing the city and region at the top level of Spanish football – and allowing it to punch above its weight and mix in with traditional giants like Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Deportivo was founded in 1906 as the Real Club Deportivo de La Coruña. It was the culmination of a process started by José María Abalo, a young man who introduced the game to A Coruña after returning from a spell in England. Before long various local teams were representing different parts of town, and in 1907 King Alfonso XIII added lustre to the founding of Deportivo by granting it the right to add ‘Real’ (Royal) in its title.
The first decades of football in Spain saw the club rise to prominence in regional competitions and reach Spain’s second division, making it to the first division for the first time in the 1940s – a prelude to what has become known as a golden decade for Deportivo. This period also saw the construction of an impressive new Estadio Riazor, which enjoys a uniquely scenic setting on the beautiful Bay of Orzán. In the 1950s the club rose to new heights, challenging the big guns and finishing within one point of the title at a time when especially Real Madrid was regarded as the best club in the world.
But Deportivo, or de Brancoazuis (blues and whites) as they are also known, became a star-studded team, with South American ball magicians, legendary coach Helenio Herrera and local hero Luis Suarez – one of the greatest players ever produced by Spain. Losing him to Barcelona marked the beginning of a gradual decline that would see Deportivo spend much of the subsequent years moving up and down between the first and second divisions. It was the 1990s that would turn out to be a turning point, after the team from A Coruña reached La Liga for the first time in 18 years in 1991 and began an ascendancy that saw them once again challenge the likes of Real and Barça.
Now armed with players like López Rekarte, Donato, Fran, Mauro Silva and Bebeto, Dépor became Super Dépor as it qualified for European football and finished as runners up in back-to-back seasons – starting a run of 18 seasons during which Real could not win a match at Riazor. In 1995 the first of three Spanish cup titles was won and in 2000 Deportivo brought the Spanish league title home to Galicia. Superdépor would also make it to the semi finals of the Champions Cup before slipping back down the table and getting relegated in 2011. The following year saw them back in the top flight but relegated again, meaning they are in division two again – but at the time of writing just two points from top position and on course for promotion back to where they belong: La Liga!