Club name: SD Leioa
Level: Segunda División B
Stadium: Estadio Sarriena
Maximum Capacity: 2,000
Ticket Prices: 17€ for an adult
How to arrive: Metro to Leioa station then a 30 minute walk.
For the tenth installment of the groundhopping adventure I headed to the lofty heights of Sarriena in Leioa to see local side SD Leioa take on Bilbao Athletic -the Athletic Club affliate side.
Leioa is a small rapidly developing municipality located on the northern outskirts of Bilbao, heading towards the coast. The current population of the town is at about 30,000 but considering the amount of newly builds and construction sites that are visible around the town it is obvious that they are expecting to some sort of expansion. Within Bizkaia, the neighbourhood is perhaps most famous for the being the site of the largest campus from The Basque Country’s university, Universidad del País Vasco(UPV).
Leioa’s local football side Sociedad Deportiva Leioa was originally founded in 1925 but after some tough economic times the club folded in the 1950’s. However, in 1974 the club was reformed and thanks to a helping hand from FC Barcelona they were able to continue in their original blue and burgundy colours when the Catalan giants gifted the reborn Basque entity brand new kits. In 1977, after a lengthy absence SD Leioa were once again officially incorporated as a senior side by the Basque Football Federation and began at the bottom of the regional ladder in the Segunda División Regional, Spain’s 7th tier. 11 years later in 1988, the new SD Leioa achieved their first promotion climbing, from here onwards their was no stopping the club. Slowly but surely, the club began to re-establish it as a local force and over the course 25 years ir managed a further 3 promotions until reaching the Segunda División B in 2014/15, where they have remained until this day.
After reforming, the club lived a slightly nomadic existence competing in several different grounds and pitches all over Bizkaia. At least that was the manner of things until 1988 when they found their spiritual home on the hills above their hometown, Estadio Sarriena. The complex contains two pitches one for the junior sides and another for the senior side. The senior side was a typical lower league ground; it had a well kept grass pitch with a stand that could fit about 250 people with extra standing around the pitch. As well as this, there’s a very busy bar and a smaller snack bar.
Perhaps, the match day which I attended could not be classified as a typical game. There will always be extra interest when Bilbao Athletic turn up as everybody wants a chance to see Athletic Club’s future starlets play against their own side. Therefore, during the game their was a fuller crowd but overall the atmosphere was good natured, having something of a familial quality about it.
Down to Logistics
The location of Sarriena makes getting there using public transport quite complicated -at least it was for me. I imagine there are buses that would make arriving far more convenient but I decided to take the metro. I got the metro to the Leioa stop then walked for 30 minutes until I found the stadium. Fortunately, all the walk was long and on a slight incline it was quite simple. When I left the metro I walked over the bridge and passed a roundabout and walked down the mostly pedestrian Avenida Sabino Arana Hiribidea, I followed this road until its conclusion at a busy main road named Iparragirre Etorbidea. I crosssed the main road onto Elexalde Etorbidea and walked up this road until the second roundabout, here I turned right and not long after I found Sarriena. Once inside the gates, you can buy a ticket from the small snack bar/ticket office for 17€.
The talented Bilbao Athletic youngsters came out firing looking to assert themselves over their local rivals and within 5 minutes they had threatened the Leioa goal when a left footed shot from inside the area by Asier Benito was sent wide and in the 11th minute Leioa’s keeper was called upon when a fine long range half volley from Guruzeta required an acrobatic save to prevent a goal. Leioa’s first chance of the game came shortly after when some fine work down the right flank between their 9 Yurebasso and 10 Goti lead to the Leioa 9 sliding a shot into the grateful hands of Bilbao keeper Unai Simon. From here on in the game failed to settle into any sort of rhythm and chances were few are far between as both sides most battled it out in the middle of the pitch with sloppy passes and dodgy tackles not allowing either side a period dominating possession. The next big moment came in the 31st minute when a strong handball call against Bilbao was turned down by the referee. Leioa, undeterred, continued to play and a precise cross from the right by Striker Goti was met by the head of 11 Oscar García, his 3rd goal in consecutive games and Leioa’s 150th goal in the Segunda División B. For the rest of the half, neither side threatened the other and Leioa carried a slim lead into the break.
Nothing of note occurred in the second half until after 15 minutes had passed when recent Athletic debutant and centre back Óscar Gil was given a yellow card and marching orders after losing control of possession and kicking an opposition player during a 50-50 challenge. Despite being a man down Bilbao showed a lot of courage,rather than sitting back and looking to counter, as one would expect, they carried the game towards their opponents constantly looking for an equalizer and they almost got their reward after finally breaking down Leioa’s fine defense when in the 88th minute a fine pass found Guruzeta under pressure in the box and although he smartly collected the ball with his first touch he could only toe poke it over the bar with his second.
SD Leioa is a charming rapidly growing club for a rapidly growing town. An historic result for the club who are looking to establish themselves at this level