Club name: SD Deusto
Stadium: Estadio Etxezuri
Maximum Capacity: 1,000
Level: Tercera División
How to arrive: Metro to Sarriko station then a 5 minute walk.
The next step in my ventures through Basque football brought me slightly closer to home than usual as I strolled from my ‘piso’ to Etxezuri to see my most local team SD Deusto play against Amurri Club. Obviously, I went into this game with more expectations and slightly less objectivity than normal as I was quite keen to see how Deusto would do. It was a typically rain soaked Basque evening but much like the previous round earlier in the day (See Basque Groundhopping 13) what the weather may have lacked in sunshine and warmth the match more than made up for in terms of entertainment value!
Deusto is one of the largest and most prominent neighbourhoods in the city of Bilbao; it is situated in the north east of the city and is separated from the Bilbao city centre by the River Nervión. In addition to being the home to 49,000 people, it is also the site of one of the Basque Country’s largest and most famous universities, Universidad de Deusto as well as several bridges like the Puente Euskalduna and the now defunct drawbridge Puente de Deusto both of which connect the borough with the rest of Bilbao. It also has some notoriety within the region for the tomatoes that were grown in the farmlands and hilly areas that surround the area, from this residents of Deusto and its club derive their nickname: Los Tomateros.
The club was founded in 1913, back in the days when Deusto was its own town before it was annexed into Bilbao. The club’s glory days came back in the early 1920’s when they competed in the Regional Basque Championship and in 1921 they finished in third place behind Athletic Club and Arenas de Getxo whilst coming above Racing Santander. However, the club lost its place of power as the decade continued and failed to qualify for the newly formed national Primera División and in 1932 the club was relegated from the top Basque league. The club came back into some form after the Civil War and competed well against other strong local clubs in the regional championships throughout the 40’s but at the end of the decade another crisis hit the club that some them fall down through the categories. In 1950, SD Deusto came to an agreement with the University of Deusto, where the club would play with students in return for using the institutions facilities. The agreement had a positive impact and by the end of the decade Deusto-Universidad as it had come to be known were playing in the newly constructed Tercera División. However, by the end of the 60’s the relationship between both parties soured and SD Deusto returned, but the seperation caused much damage and Deusto once again found themselves in the regional leagues and would not return to the Tercera until 1979. Since then, the club has been a mainstay of the division without rising above it, and sometimes going down but more often than not bouncing back.
In 2005, the Bilbao city council funded the constructin of the Estadio Etxezuri in the Parque Sarriko. The ground has one main stand that can fit around 1,000 spectators and it also boast some rather impressive views of Bilbao and its encompassing mountains. The club takes pride in its role in local community and has teams for most age groups, as well as important links with other local institutions such as schools. This social element is evident in the stands, where the seats are filled by all generations often together.
Down to logistics
For me, for a change, the journey was a simple five minute walk. However, for any vistors, the easiest way to access the stadium would be to get the metro to Sarriko, from here begin to walk down Avenida Lehendakari Aguirre towards Deusto, after two or three minutes you will see a roundabout. On the the side where there is a wall walk up the stairs, this will put you in the park. From here the stadium becomes visible, it should be straight in front of you.
As I arrived the sun was setting behind the mountains and the floodlights were being warmed up, luckily I was there just in time to witness the vistas beyond the pitch. Equally outstanding, though, were the vistas on the pitch. It was by far one of the most entertaining matches I have seen this season; it was absolutely relentless, from the first whistle till the last -the very last!
Within four minutes of the opening whistle the first goal of the game was scored. Amurrio’s right winger volleyed a clearance back into the Deusto area where it was met by the thunderous left foot on a half volley by the opposite winger, Castro; the keeper Garrachon did not stand a chance. Five minutes later Amurrio had another chance when they shot wide from inside the opposition box. Deusto looked to take control of the game and play with the ball on the floor whilst utilising their own skilful left winger, Raul Intxausti. He introduced himself in the 18th minute when a sublime chip over his defender landed in the feet of his overlapping full-back Ilia Akhvlediani who then struck wide. The next big moment came in the 20th minute, Deusto were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position. The free kick was shot at the wall, or to be more precise directly into the face of Lafuente who, after valiantly trying to stay upright, fell to his knees five seconds later. Due to the incident the game had to be stopped momentarily and some momentum was lost.
Deusto continued to dominate possession and were the more attacking side but due to a strong and organised defensive effort from Amurrio they were unable to find a break-through being mostly consigned to long range efforts that did little to trouble Amurrio’s keeper, Maturana The next big opportunity came in at the end of the half, Intxausti once again found himself in some space and sent in a decent cross but it was defended well and put out for a corner. Although the resultant corner was slightly over-struck it was sent back into the mixer by a strong header and in the scramble another Deusto player got his head to the ball but it was well saved by Maturana.
The second half kicked into life in the 51st minute when Amurrio replacement Urkiza was played through on goal but he was unable to send his shot over the oncoming Garrachon. However, history repeated itself a minute later, and this time Urkiza did not make the same mistake as he knocked the ball past the keeper and into the back of the net to put Amurrio 2-0 up. Ten minutes later, Deusto saw themselves back in the game, a through ball was picked up by he ever present striker Pison who was subsequently tripped up by Amurrio’s captain Banderas, the referee didn’t waiver in awarding a penalty or a red card to the offending defender, despite the protests. The penalty was tucked away by the fouled Pison.
Deusto looked to take advantage of their numerical superiority but Amurrio’s defence remained as resolute as it could. In the 67th minute, a long throw from Deusto saw Pison in with a chance, his shot was saved by another Amurrio face, this time that of their goalkeeper who let out a mighty roar before hitting the floor clutching his face. Luckily, he was fine and continued playing.
Deusto continued to dominate but weren’t street smart enough to break down the wall Amurrio had built at the back despite having plenty of possession and opportunities. In fact, it was Amurrio who had the next best chance, once again a counter attack saw Urkiza one-on-one with Deusto’s keeper but his shot was well saved. Things became even more heated in the 86th minute when Deusto centre-back was sent off. This, however, did not change the course of the game, in the 90th minute Deusto were awarded a free kick 20 yards out to the right; up stepped captain Tejada who hit a precise curling shot around the wall and past a scrambling diving Amurrio keeper. The stand entered into pandemonium, they comeback had finally been achieved, 2-2. But the game was not over yet… the referee played a long stoppage time thanks all the previous breaks in plays and Amurrio were not finished yet, this time Guevara was played through one-on-one with Garrachon who once again saved his side with fine low save. A foul at the proceeding corner saw the referee blow-time, and a massive sigh was let-out throughout Etxezuri. A point loss or a point gained? I’m not sure, but it certainly was entertaining!
A fantastic game and experience, and best of all for me it was extremely local. Nonetheless, even if you aren’t so close like myself; if you are looking for a great lower league experience, with some great views and a side that looks to play attractive, attacking football give SD Deusto a look, it wouldn’t be a waste of your time.