La Real throughout the decades

  • 1900 - 1910
  • 1910 - 1920
  • 1920 - 1930
  • 1930 - 1940
  • 1940 - 1950
  • 1950 - 1960
  • 1960 - 1970
  • 1970 - 1980
  • 1980 - 1990
  • 1990 - 2000
  • 2000 - 2010
  • 2010 - 2020
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Foot-ball arrived in Gipuzkoa during the early years of the 20th century from England, courtesy of the younger members of the population who had discovered the game whilst studying or working in the UK. The first-ever reference to a 'partida de foot-ball' (game of football) in San Sebastián dates back to 1902, by which point the game had also reached other Gipuzkoan towns, such as Irún. However, the first recorded reference to a club refers to San Sebastián Recreation Club, although they weren't the city's only side, with Vasconia, Esperanza and Fortuna Old Boys also having been founded. In their early days, San Sebastián Recreation Club played in green and yellow, but in March 1908 the club introduced a new kit featuring a white shirt with the initials 'SS' in blue and blue shorts.

A trophy to get up and running

During the early years, the team enjoyed some fine results but were unable to compete in the official leagues given that the club wasn't registered in the Companies Register. As a result, in order to be able to take part in the 1909 Spanish Championship, the club played under the name of the Club Ciclista (Cycling Club), an organisation that did meet the required legal criteria. It was whilst playing under the name of the Club Ciclista that the team lifted its first piece of silverware, after running out 3-1 winners over Espanyol de Madrid in the 1909 Copa del Rey final. The team's line-up in that final was as follows: Bea, A. Sena, Arocena, Arrillaga, Echeverría, Rodríguez, M. Sena, Lacort, McGuinness, Simmons and Birebén. The Club Ciclista goals were scored by McGuinness (2) and Simmons.

The founding of the club

After having won the Copa del Rey, the players decided to break away from the Club Ciclista to legally form the Sociedad de Fútbol. The new club was officially founded on 7 September 1909 under the presidency of Mr Adolfo Sáenz Alonso. A few months later, on 11 February 1910 to be specific, King Alfonso XIII granted the new club the title of 'Real' (Royal).

On-field success

The new club's first success came in the 1910 Copa UCEF, in which the club was unable to play under its official name given that it hadn't been running for long enough, meaning that the team was again forced to play under the name of another club, in this instance Vasconia Sporting Club. A split within the Spanish game at this time saw two league competitions run in parallel, with Vasconia taking their place in the Unión de Clubes league, which was contested in San Sebastián. After prevailing over Racing de Irún in the qualifying stage, the side took part in a three-team tournament with Athletic and Real Madrid. The Bilbao-based outfit emerged victorious after seeing off Vasconia in a 1-0 win before claiming a 2-0 victory over Real Madrid. However, La Real's 2-0 triumph over Madrid saw the San Sebastián club finish as runners-up. Further success came in the 1913 Copa UCEF, when, just like in 1910, a split within the Spanish Federation saw La Real side with the rebellious opposition and take their place in the Unión de Clubes competition. La Real overcame Sporting de Irún in the qualifying stage and went on to face Barcelona in the Catalan capital. The encounter, which was played on 16 March 1913, ended in a 2-2 draw. The decider was held a day later and once again there was no separating the two teams, who this time played out a goalless stalemate. Another decider was played on 23 March and this time there was to be a winner. La Real got their noses in front courtesy of an Alfonso Sena spot-kick, only for Barcelona to stage a comeback as Apolinario Rodríguez's netted twice to seal glory.

The opening of Atotxa

The 5 October 1913 represents a landmark date in the history of Real Sociedad. This day marked the inauguration of Atotxa, which for an 80-year period - including several renovations - would be Real Sociedad's home ground. The stadium's opening was marked with a fixture between Real Sociedad and Athletic de Bilbao. The La Real line-up was as follows: Eizaguirre, Berraondo, Mariano Arrate, Leturia, Echeverría, Machimbarrena, M. Elósegui, Alfonso Sena, S. Elósegui, Sydler and J. Minondo. The Athletic starting XI was: Ibarreche, Solaun, Hurtado, Eguía, J.Mª Belauste, Iceta, Pinillos, Kortadi, Zuazo, Pichichi and R. Belauste. The first player to score at Atotxa was Rafael Moreno Aranzadi, better known as Pichichi, in a game that ended in a 3-3 stalemate. Sydler (2) and Saturnino Elósegui were on target for La Real, whilst Pichichi (2) and Zuazo claimed the Athletic goals.

A tough start

Football at the beginning of the 20th century was certainly not short on incident and featured divides within the federation as two leagues ran in parallel. During this period, Real Sociedad had two big rivals in the shape of Athletic de Bilbao and the Irún-based outfits, in particular Racing de Irún. The rivalry with the Irún clubs eased in 1915 when Racing and Sporting de Irún merged to form Real Unión. Meanwhile, the rivalry featuring Real Sociedad and the other Gipuzkoan sides with Athletic led to the founding of the Gipuzkoan Football Federation on 25 April 1918 under the presidency of Mr Salvador Díaz Iraola, who was the brother of one of the most iconic figures in our club's history, Benito Díaz. The founding of the Gipuzkoan Football Federation brought an end to the rivalry which, amongst other things, had resulted in La Real's absence from the official league competitions staged in the 1914/15 and 1916/17 campaigns.

Tussle to be the leading light in Gipuzkoan football

The whole decade was marked by a fine, well-spirited battle between Real Sociedad and Real Unión to be the biggest name in Gipuzkoan football. In the early years of the decade, the Irún outfit had the upper hand, but in the 1922/23 campaign the two teams contested two double-legged games, which yielded a win apiece and two draws. A decider was therefore required and the teams renewed acquaintances on 18 March 1923 at San Mamés. Despite being without one of the team's star players in Mariano Arrate, La Real triumphed 2-1 courtesy of an Eduardo Arbide brace to lift the Gipuzkoa Championship title, a trophy they also secured in the 1924/25, 1926/27 and 1928/29 campaigns. The encounters between Gipuzkoa's two leading clubs always created much excitement and were closely followed by both the communities of Irún and San Sebastián.

Fixtures against foreign opposition

The number of competitive games held during these years wasn't very high and this saw the teams complement their season programmes with friendly fixtures. Many of these matches were played against foreign opposition. During the course of these years, teams from the following countries visited Atotxa: France (Olympique Paris, Cette, Vie au Grand Air and Racing Paris, amongst others), Belgium (Union St. Gilloise and Racing Bruselas), Portugal (Casa Pía de Lisboa), Switzerland (Cabtonnal Neuchatel), Austria (Rapid Vienna), Germany (Essener Turnerbund and Nuremberg), Holland (Breda and Maestrichsche Vietbal), Italy (Sampierdarenese), Hungary (MTK, Ferencvaros) and the Uruguayan national team, etc. However, without question, the biggest buzz was generated by the visits of the professional English sides, such as Birmingham City and Newcastle United. The visit of the German outfit Essener Turnerbund brought the Hungarian player Lippo Hertzka to San Sebastián and some years later, in 1923, he would go on to become Real Sociedad's first professional coach. Hertzka's contacts within central European football saw La Real become the first club to tour Austria, Hungary and Germany, with this maiden visit, which took place in the summer of 1924, repeated the following year. However, that wasn't the extent of the appearances made by Real Sociedad players on the international stage, as the following eight members of the squad all took their places in the Basque team that toured South America in 1922: Agustín Eizaguirre, Amador and Mariano Arrate, Antxon Arrillaga, Celestino Olaizola, 'Tato' Martínez, Eduardo Arbide and Juan Artola. Meanwhile, Real Sociedad players were a constant feature in the Spanish national side throughout these years and took part in the Olympics held in Antwerp and Amsterdam.

Three-game Copa de Santander final

The end of the 1927/28 season brought with it one of the most memorable moments in Real Sociedad's history: the three-game Copa de Santander final played in Santander against F.C. Barcelona. Real Sociedad finished second in the Gipuzkoa Championship, behind Real Unión, to seal a place in the Copa del Rey. First up, the team contested a group stage featuring the champions and runners-up of the Gipuzkoan, Aragonese and Catalan championships, with Real Unión, Real Sociedad, Iberia, Patria de Zaragoza, F.C. Barcelona and Europa de Barcelona featuring in this stage of the competition. F.C Barcelona and La Real were amongst the sides to make it through to the quarter-finals, where the San Sebastián side ended Celta's hopes of glory, before getting the better of Valencia in the semis to book their place in the showpiece against Barcelona. The final was played on 20 May at El Sardinero and ended in a 1-1 draw, with goals from Ángel Mariscal and Josep Samitier ensuring the game end honours even. This clash served up a rather interesting off-field battle. During the course of the game, Barcelona goalkeeper Ferenc Plattko picked up an injury, with this incident inspiring Rafael Alberti, a poet in attendance at the game, to pen an 'Ode to Plattko'. However, not to be outdone, San Sebastián poet Rafael Celaya responded with a counterode in which he pointed out that it wasn't down to Plattko that La Real hadn't won the game, but that it owed rather to some poor refereeing. Two days later, the teams looked horns again, with this second encounter also ending in a 1-1 draw. This time round Kiriki and Vicente Piera it was who got their names on the scoresheet. The third game wasn't held until 29 June on account of the Amsterdam Olympic Games, in which eight members of the Real Sociedad squad were involved. None of the Barcelona players featured at the Games, given that they were professionals. The fatigue that resulted in their participation at the Olympics left its mark on the La Real players and the Catalans ran out 3-1 winners in a game in which Txomin Zaldua, Josep Samitier, Ángel Arocha and Josep Sastre were all on target.

The founding of La Liga

By the end of the 1920s, football had grown massively and the regional league competitions could no longer satisfy the supporters' demands or the clubs' financial needs, which had become increasingly more significant as the game became ever more professional. This meant that there was a need for the competitions to be restructured. The role model in this regard was the English league but it didn't prove straightforward to introduce it in Spain. The dispute between the minimalists, who were in favour of restricting the number of member teams, and the maximilists, who sought a more open league format, forced the beginning of the La Liga season to be pushed back. The minimalists, led by F.C. Barcelona, wanted the Primera División to be made up solely by teams who had won the Copa del Rey at some point during their history i.e. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Real Unión, Athletic, Arenas and Real Sociedad (whose cup success when the team played under the name of Club Ciclista was recognised). Meanwhile, the maximalists were in favour of also including those teams that had finished runners-up in the Copa del Rey, plus the leading teams from each region. The inability to reach an agreement meant that two league competitions were held during the 1927/28 season, neither of which was ultimately finished. Real Sociedad contested the Torneo de Campeones alongside the rest of the minimalist clubs. An agreement was finally reached and in February 1928 it was decided that the La Liga Primera División would be made up of the following 10 teams: the six Copa del Rey winners, the three Copa del Rey runners-up (Europa de Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Español de Barcelona), as well as the winners of a tournament featuring several other clubs, which was won by Racing Santander. These 10 clubs took their places in the first-ever league season, held in the 1928/29 campaign. Real Sociedad made their league bow on 10 February 1929 in a derby clash against Athletic at Atotxa. The Real Sociedad line-up for this maiden league fixture was as follows: Izaguirre, Ilundain, Galdós, Amadeo, Martín Marculeta, Trino, Kiriki, Mariscal, Cholín, Paco Bienzobas and Yurrita. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, with Real Sociedad taking the lead through Paco Bienzobas' 43rd-minute strike, only for Athletic's Luis Bergareche to level terms a minute later. Real Sociedad claimed a fourth-place finish that season, with a record reading eight wins, four draws and six defeats, 46 goals for and 41 against. This points tally saw La Real finish five adrift of the champions, F.C. Barcelona. An interesting fact from this season is that the first-ever LaLiga Pichichi (the division's leading scorer) was Real Sociedad's Bienzobas.

Off to a good start

The 1930s proved to be one of the toughest decades in Real Sociedad's history. However, as far as on-field events go, the decade got off to a fine start, with goal difference all that ultimately stood between the team and a first La Liga title. The San Sebastián side, coached by Englishman Harry Lowe, failed to make a good start to the campaign as they were held to a draw by Alavés at Atotxa, a result which was followed by defeat in Bilbao. However, the Blanquiazules subsequently put together a six-game winning streak which kept them top of the pile between Matchday 5 and 12. In their next four outings, La Real only managed to pick up one point and ended the season level with Athletic and Racing Santander on 22 points, with goal difference seeing the Bilbao outfit crowned champions and leaving the La Real to settle for third spot.

The birth of Donostia F.C

The Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed on 14 April 1931 and one of the measures adopted by the new regime was to eradicate monarchic titles and symbols. As a result, an agreement was reached at the general assembly of the Sociedad de Fútbol de San Sebastián, held on 27 June 1931, to 'change the club's name to Donastia F.C., whilst keeping the current design of the club badge, with the only change involving the royal crown, which will be replaced by the crest of San Sebastián'. In the wake of the Spanish Civil War, the club's traditional name was reinstated.

On-field & financial struggles

The gradual professionalisation of the game, which brought about increases in the cost of running a club, was the reason behind the financial strife our club endured during this period of its history. Unable to pay the players' wages, Donastia were forced to release their top performers, which proved detrimental to the team's on-field chances. Following a couple of years in which the side's only success came in the form of the 1932/33 Regional Championship title, it appeared as if the team was getting back on track during the next season, but this proved to be nothing more than a false dawn and Donostia went on to suffer the first relegation in the club's history after ending the season one place off the bottom. However, the following season turned out to be even worse, as our club was condemned to Tercera División, although off-field events ultimately prevented this relegation from materialising.

Real Sociedad during the Civil War years

The beginning of the Civil War at the start of July 1936 saw all football competitions come to a standstill. Nevertheless, by July 1937, just one year after war has been declared, activity was resumed at Real Sociedad. Three former board members, Messrs Francisco Molins, José Merino and José María Lobato seized the initiative and called a general meeting, which was attended by just one club member. Mr Molins assumed the presidency and embarked on rebuilding the team. He went about this task by issuing a call for players, which was answered by some more senior players and a good number of youngsters. Former players Argentino Peña and subsequently Martín Marculeta were tasked with managing the new squad. The only games contested by the new team came through the club's participation in the Copa Brigadas de Navarra.

Reorganisation of the competitions

The end of the war saw efforts made to restore normality within the footballing world. However, the reorganisation of the competitions and the decision about which division each club would compete in proved to be far from straightforward. In the wake of several meetings, the Spanish Federation decided that each team would compete in the same division as they had in 1936. This decision worked in Real Sociedad's favour and the club, who had now regained its traditional name, would take their place in Segunda División. The first post-war campaign got off to a fine start for the San Sebastián outfit, who ran out comfortable winners of the Basque group of Segunda, only for an unsuccessful play-off campaign to see them fail to achieve the target of regaining their top-flight status. Neverthless, and despite the financial troubles the club continued to endure, the team did achieve promotion to Primera División at the end of the following campaign. La Real once again cruised to the Segunda group title, and despite making an underwhelming start, they managed to finish as runners-up in the promotion play-offs, ahead of Deportivo Coruña and Castellón and behind Granada. This saw La Real return to the top tier of Spanish football. What's more, the San Sebastián-based outfit enjoyed a fine run in the Copa del Rey during this season, seeing off Valladolid and La Liga champions, Atlético Aviación, before bowing out to Espanyol in the semis. One interesting fact is that the 1940/41 campaign yielded La Real's biggest victory as the team put Valladolid to the sword in a 14-2 win on 8 January 1941.

Promotion-winning side

The reputation of the squad that had secured promotion began to diminsh over the course of the following years. In the 1941/42 season, La Real ended the campaign in the relegation zone and relinquished their top-flight status. The team's stay in the second rung of Spanish football didn't prove to be a long one and the side returned to the top flight the very next year under the stewardship of Benito Díaz. After finishing top of their group, this time round La Real overcame Valladolid, Sporting, Ceuta and Jerez in the end-of-season play-offs to seal promotion alongside Sabadell. The 1943/44 campaign once again ended in relegation for the San Sebastián side and this time round their stay in the second tier lasted two seasons, with promotion back to the top flight only achieved in the 1946/47 campaign. Following a shaky start, La Real held on to third spot for virtually the whole season, a position which would have secured a place in the play-offs. However, in the final matchdays of the campaign, La Real dropped down to fourth - which would have condemned them to a further season in Segunda -but back-to-back victories, over Betis in Seville and against Mallorca at home, saw the San Sebastián-based club seal a third-place finish. The play-off final pitted Real Sociedad against Murcia at Madrid's Estadio Metropolitano. Goals from José María Castivia and Campos secured a 2-0 win and promotion for La Real. The team was once again relegated at the end of the 1947/48 season after finishing second from bottom in the standings. In contrast, the team performed very well in the Copa del Rey, knocking out Zaragoza, Sabadell, Tarragona and Valencia before succumbing to Sevilla in the semi-finals. It should be noted that the tie against Valencia left lasting consequences, with several players contracting brucellosis, which sidelined some of them for a sustained period, whilst leading others to retire from the game all together. The following season got off to a different start as far as the fixture calendar is concerned, with the renovation work on Atotxa meaning that La Real opened the campaign with three away fixtures. This trio of away assignments yielded three defeats and things looked far from promising, but La Real found their form and went on to wage a fierce battle with Málaga and Granada right throughout the season at the top of the table. The three sides went into the final round of fixtures level on points but with La Real sitting top of the pile on goal difference. The side's victory at Mestalla saw them hold on to top spot and once again clinch promotion to Primera as the team prepared for another campaign in the top flight.

Financial struggles

The club endured financial strife throughout the whole decade and this hindered efforts to improve the on-field results. The underlying issue was the club's inability to compete with the offers being received from other teams for the side's better players, which saw them depart and left La Real with a less competitive side. The club's successive boards of directors sought to resolve this problem by seeking new sources of revenue. However, it wasn't until the renovation work carried out on Atotxa in 1948, which brought about an increase in the number of season-ticket holders and revenue, that the club achieved a certain level of stability.

Benito Díaz introduces the WM formation to Spanish football

One of the most iconic figures in Real Sociedad's history, Benito Díaz, was also heralded as being the man who introduced the WM formation into the Spanish game. This tactical set-up had been invented by Herbert Chapman in the 1920s and represented a complete revolution within Spanish football. In basic terms, the formation features three defenders, two wingers, two central midfielders and three forwards. The attacking players were set up in what resembled a 'W' shape, with the most defensive players arranged into a 'M'. La Real employed this system for the first time in the 1946/47 season in their away trip to Ferrol, a game that they won 4-3. Depsite initially being labelled as a conservative set-up, the formation was soon adopted by other Spanish teams.

A decade in Primera

The 1950s saw La Real leave their yo-yo status behind them as they enjoyed a decade of stability in Primera. That said, retaining the club's top-flight status didn't always prove to be an easy task. The decade got off to a good start as La Real finished the 1950/51 campaign in fifth spot after spending the whole season in the upper echelons of the standings. However, things took a turn for the worse and after three rather average seasons, the 1954/55 campaigns saw La Real involve in a relegation play-off. The team would have to fight to secure their league status against At. At. Tetuán, Espanyol, Oviedo, Zaragoza and Granada, with the San Sebastián and Catalan outfits ultimately prevailing to remain in the top flight. In the wake of this relegation scare, La Real reached the end of the decade without suffering any major struggles to stay in the top tier.

Copa del Rey runners-up

This decade once again saw La Real come mighty close to picking up some silverware, with the side very nearly tasting glory in the 1950/51 Copa del Rey. Benito Díaz's charges had already enjoyed a fine league season culminating in a fifth-place finish, but it was in the Copa del Rey where they really hit top form. After seeing off Celta and Racing de Santander, the San Sebastián side came up against Real Madrid in the semi-finals. La Real triumphed in the first leg at Atotxa in a 1-0 success, a result which left the team's chances of progressing in doubt with what was sure be a very tough second leg to come. However, the side managed to again emerge victorious, running out 2-0 winners in Chamartín, courtesy of strikes from Sabino Barinaga and José Caeiro. This win sealed La Real's place in another cup final, where they would once again come up against F.C. Barcelona. This game presented Díaz with the chance to exact revenge for the defeat suffered in the 1928 three-game Copa de Santander final. The showpiece was staged in Chamartín on 27 May 1951 and Barcelona, boasting the likes of László Kubala, Antoni Ramallets and César, once again left La Real dreaming of what might have been as they claimed a 3-0 win.

The birth of Sanse

It was in this period that Real Sociedad took the strategic decision to make a firm commitment to promoting the club's academy. In the 1954/55 season, the La Real Juvenil side were crowned Spanish champions after overcoming Sevilla in the final. But it wasn't until 1957 that Sanse, the team that would provide the main source of Real Sociedad's homegrown talent, was born. At the end of the 1956/7 season, the team was promoted to Tercera from the regional league. Given that the regulations stipulated that two teams with the same name couldn't compete in national competitions, the reserve team were given the name of San Sebastián C.F., better known as Sanse. The overriding objective in the creation of Sanse was for the team to act as the major breeding ground for Real Sociedad players, with even the most fleeting of glances at the list of players who have been promoted from Sanse to the first team offering confirmation that the reserve team has been a resounding success in this regard. Whilst the first man to coach Sanse was Perico Torres, the role played by Javier Exposito, who coached the reserve team for 20 seasons and to a large extent is responsible for the success enjoyed by Sanse in producing players, must also be highlighted.

A far from encouraging start

The 1960s didn't get off to a good start for La Real. As early as the 1959/60 season, the team were involved in the end-of-season relegation play-off. La Real made a decent start to the campaign, but a run of seven straight defeats saw them plummet down the standings and they failed to ever haul themselves out of the drop zone. The team ended the La Liga season in 14th place and fought to retain their league status in a play-off game with Córdoba. The side, led by the recently appointed Joseba Elizondo, prevailed in the first leg at Atotxa, whilst the Andalusians triumphed in the return clash. The decider was played in Madrid, where La Real ensured they remained in the top tier courtesy of a 1-0 victory. The following season brought with it more settled times for the club, who comfortably staved off the spectre of relegation. The club's supporters were handed a rare cause for celebration as Sanse clinched promotion to Segunda.

Another relegation

The 1961/62 campaign proved to be a painful one for the La Real faithful. The team, who appeared to have established themselves as a solid top-flight outfit, once again suffered the pain of relegation. The season looked doomed right from the off and not even a change of coach, with Joseba Elizondo replacing Baltasar Albéniz, managed to reverse the side's fortunes. La Real ultimately ended the season in 15th place, which saw them automatically relegated to the second tier. The first team's relegation to Segunda meant that Sanse had to drop out of this division, despite having enjoyed an excellent campaign.

Period in the wilderness

Securing a return to the top flight proved to be tougher than anyone at La Real would have liked. The club was also hit hard financially as the number of season-ticket holders dropped significantly. As far as on-field matters were concerned, La Real appeared to be adapting well to the rigours of Segunda and spent most of the the 1962/63 campaign in the promotion places. However, at the tail end of the season the team slipped down to fourth and faced the prospect of remaining in Segunda for a further year. The following seasons also panned out similarly. However, La Real did reach the Copa del Rey semis in the 1964/65 campaign. The team dumped Ceuta, Betis, Osasuna and Sporting de Gijón out before coming off second best in their semi-final tie against At.Madrid.

Promotion in Puertollano

The club's followers were made to wait until the 1966/67 campaign until they were able to toast a long-awaited promotion. La Real, managed by Andoni Elizondo, made a poor start to the season, finding them languishing down in mid-table. However, a subsequent streak of 14 wins and just one defeat propelled the team to the top of the standings ahead of the final fixture of the season at Puertollano, with the side's win over their nearest pursuers Sporting Gijón proving particularly important during this run. On 23 April 1967, La Real would play for promotion against Calvo Sotelo in Puertollano. A draw would be enough to clinch promotion but things didn't get off to a good start for the team, who trailed as a result of Juan Cruz Argacha's 40th-minute strike. Argacha was again on target on 50' to make it 2-0, but La Real didn't crumble and hit back twice, firstly through Marco Antonio Boronat on 58' before Arambarri netted a debut goal in the 81st minute to restore parity and seal promotion.

One final season of suffering

Before the decade was up, the team would still face one further season of suffering. The return to the top flight turned out to be a tough experience for a La Real side who spent the whole campaign in the lower reaches of the table. Ultimately the team's fate would be decided in a relegation play-off against Valladolid. The first leg in Castile and León saw the visitors claim a 1-0 win courtesy of a Marco Antonio Boronat goal. A goalless stalemate back at Atotxa meant that the team retained its place in Primera.

Early years of transition

La Real gradually established themselves in the top flight during the first few years of the decade, during which they typically found themselves in the middle reaches of the table. What's more, during these years the La Real side was built around a number of veterans and the gradual inclusion of youngsters who had made the step up from Sanse. It was only during the 1971/72 campaign that the team hit hard times, with the side's plight bringing about a change in the dugout. Ángel Segurola was replaced by Andoni Elizondo and from December the team began to climb the standings, even occupying the European spots for a number of matchdays.

Maiden UEFA Cup qualification

We were made to wait until the 1973/14 campaign for our club to end a season in the European qualification berths. The side, managed by Rafa Iriondo, made a poor start to the league campaign, and after losing in Granada in their first outing of the second half of the season, the team were languishing down in 14th spot. Between this defeat and the end of the campaign, La Real impressively turned things around and clinched a fourth-place finish to qualify for European football for the first time in the club's history. In this maiden European campaign, the team were drawn against Czech side Baník Ostrava. The first leg took place on 18 November 1974 at Atotxa, where the hosts failed to send the home faithful away happy as the Czechs grabbed a 1-0 win courtesy of Miroslav Micka's strike. In the return leg, which was played a fortnight later, Baník once again came out on top, running out 4-0 winners on this occasion.

A second taste of European football

The 1974/75 season turned out to be a very similarly to the previous one. Under Andoni Elizondo's stewardship, the team got off to a slow start in the league but fought back to finish fourth and qualify for the UEFA Cup again. This time round, La Real's first opponents were Swiss outfit Grasshopper. The sides' first meeting took place in Switzerland on 16 September 1975, with the visitors claiming a valuable 3-3 draw. The home side forged ahead with goals from Rudolf Elsener and Slobodan Santrac, only for a Jesús María Satrustegi brace to draw La Real level. An Alfons Bosco strike saw Grasshopper restore their advantage but Luciano Murillo later pounced to rescue a draw. The second leg back at Atotxa ended in a 1-1 stalemate with goals from Dionisio Urreisti and Slobodan Santrac. La Real progressed to the next round on away goals. The team's next opponents were one of the game's heavyweights in the shape of Liverpool, who cruised to victory in both games. The English outfit ran out 3-1 winners at Atotxa before sealing a 6-0 success at Anfield. One interesting fact to note from the first-leg clash played at Atotxa is that it saw Luis Arkonada make his Real Sociedad debut. Meanwhile, the Liverpool side featured a player who would later go on to play an important part in our club's history: John Toshack.

Seasons of transition The derby of the Ikurriña

The 1975/6, 1976/77 and 1977/8 campaigns saw the club undergo a period of transition. The first of these seasons saw the team struggle in the league, with the team's plight leading to Andoni Elizondo's dismissal and the appointment of José Antonio Irulegi, who steered the side to a mid-table finish. Throughout these years, the Copa del Rey was the competition which provided the La Real faithful with the most cheer. In the 1975/76 season, the team saw off Celta and Las Palmas before coming up against Atlético Madrid in the semis. La Real succumbed to a 1-0 reverse in the first leg at Atotxa and a goalless stalemate in the return leg meant that the side missed out an a Copa del Rey final appearance. The 1977/78 campaign saw La Real eliminate Acero, Xerez, Toledo, Real Madrid and Valencia to take their place in the semi-finals, where they would meet Johan Cruyff's F.C. Barcelona. The first leg at Atotxa failed to produce any goals and despite taking the lead in the return leg through Salva Iriarte's strike, goals from Migueli and Carles Rexach saw the Catalans book their place in the final. On 5 December 1976, those supporters in attendance at the derby game against Athletic witnessed a landmark moment. Just prior to kick-off at Atotxa, the two team captains, Inaxio Kortabarria and José Ángel Iribar, took to the pitch carrying the Basque flag, which at this stage was yet to have been legalised. La Real went on to win the game 5-0.

An encouraging end to the decade

The first season of the decade was highly encouraging for the club's future. Led by Alberto Ormaetxea, the team ended the campaign with the biggest number of wins to their name in the division. The side ended the campaign in fourth spot, which once again guaranteed European football.

A record-breaking start to the decade

The 1979/80 season proved to be one of the most successful in Real Sociedad's history, with Alberto Ormaetxea's charges setting a new record by remaining unbeaten throughout all 32 matchdays. The team established themselves in the upper echelons of the table right from the start of the season and ended the first half of the campaign in top spot. La Real reached the penultimate matchday as league leaders and with their unbeaten record intact, but in one of the darkest days in the club's history, Sevilla F.C. condemned the team to a 2-1 defeat to prevent La Real from lifting a first-ever league title. One interesting fact to highlight from this season is that it included a 4-0 romp over Real Madrid at Atotxa as La Real banished their hoodoo whenever the Madrilenians were the visitors in emphatic fashion. This season also saw La Real come within touching distance of tasting glory in the Copa del Rey. After getting the better of Bilbao Athletic, Peña Sport, Burgos and F.C. Barcelona, the Blanquiazules bowed out in the semis against Castilla.

A maiden UEFA Cup win

La Real's fourth-place finish in the previous campaign saw them once again involved in the UEFA Cuop. This time round, they were drawn against the mighty Inter Milan. The Italians put La Real to the sword in a 3-0 first-leg win at the San Siro to virtually put the tie beyond the visitors' reach. However, the hosts produced a fantastic performance in the return leg at Atotxa and came very close to mounting a comeback. This match saw La Real claim a first-ever win in a European competition, running out 2-0 winners courtesy of a Jesús María Satrustegi double.

A first league title

The 1980/81 season didn't get off to the best of starts for the team, who spent virtually the whole season towards the top end of the table without ever really looking like title candidates. With 10 matchdays of the season remaining, La Real slipped to a 2-0 away defeat at Barcelona, a result which left them six points adrift of Atlético Madrid at the summit. However, following that reverse La Real went unbeaten until the end of the season, whilst the Madrilenians started to run out of steam. Victory in Murcia in the third from last round of fixtures saw La Real take top spot. The team then beat R.C.D. Espanyol at Atotxa to set up the most important game in the club's history. This crucial clash would take place on 26 April 1981 in Gijón, where a point would be enough for the team to secure a first league crown. Things couldn't have got off to a better start for the Blanquiazules who marched into a 1-0 lead with just seven minutes on the clock after Inaxio Kortabarria netted from the spot. However, Manuel Mesa restored parity a minute before the break before putting the Asturians into the driving seat a minute after the restart. With Real Madrid winning in Valladolid it looked very much as if the events of last season were about to repeat themselves. There was, however, to be late drama at El Molinón. In the final minute, Jesús María Zamora pounced on a loose ball in the box to make it 2-2 and hand Real Sociedad their first league crown. The La Real line-up for this historic encounter was as follows: Arkonada, Celayeta, Górriz, Kortabarria, Olaizola, Diego, Alonso, Zamora, Idígoras, Satrustegi and López Ufarte. José Mª Bakero and Larrañaga both featured in the second half.

Strong UEFA Cup campaign

Real Sociedad progressed through two rounds of the UEFA Cup after seeing off Újpest Dózsa (the return leg was staged at San Mamés on account of Atotxa being closed) and prevailing over Czech outfit Zbrojovka Brno. In the third round, La Real were pitted against Belgium's Lokeren. The Belgians claimed a 1-0 first-leg victory and whilst a Preben Larsen brace put Lokeren into pole position, La Real did at least claim a draw on the night thanks to goals from Roberto López Ufarte and Jesús María Zamora

A second league title

La Real began the season intent on defending their league crown and so it showed as they got off to a strong start. The team took top spot on Matchday 3 and remained at the summit until Matchday 12. The season's key encounter came in the trip to F.C. Barcelona. A 2-0 win for the Azulgranas appeared to have put paid to La Real's chances of taking the title. However, the Catalans failed to hold on to their advantage at the summit and the Blanquiazules stole in to take top spot on the penultimate matchday. This time round, the crunch clash was played at Atotxa on 25 April 1982, with Athletic providing the opposition. Jesús María Zamora put La Real ahead on 55' and Roberto López Ufarte later doubled the hosts' advantage in the 68th minute. Despite Athletic reducing the arrears through Manu Sarabia's strike five from minutes before time, Real Sociedad already had one hand on the trophy. The La Real line-up for that game was as follows: Arkonada, Celayeta, Górriz, Kortabarria, E. Murillo, Diego, Alonso, Zamora, Uralde, Satrustegi and López Ufarte. Olaizola and Larrañaga both featured in the second half. La Real also enjoyed an excellent run in the Copa del Rey during this campaign. After overcoming Bilbao Athletic, Osasuna, Valladolid and Athletic, the team were drawn against Real Madrid in the semi-finals. A Jesús María Satrustegi strike sealed a 1-0 first-leg triumph. Meanwhile, in the second leg an 89th-minute Juanito strike took the game into extra time, which was followed a penalty shoot-out in which the Madrilenians held their nerve to seal a place in the final.

Maiden Spanish Super Cup winners

The 1982/83 season signalled the start of a new competition, the Spanish Super Cup, which saw the Copa del Rey and La Liga winners go head-to-head. This inaugural fixture pitted the league champions, Real Sociedad, against Real Madrid. The first leg finished 1-0 to the Madridistas. The sides' second meeting was played at Atotxa on 28 December 1982. The game ended 1-0 to the hosts after 90 mintes, a result which forced extra time, during which two Pedro Uralde strikes and a Roberto López Ufarte effort sealed a 4-0 La Real win and added another piece of silverware to the club's collection. The La Real line-up that day was as follows: Arkonada, Celayeta, E. Murillo, Górriz, Gajate, Diego, Larrañaga, Orbegozo, Bakero, Uralde and López Ufarte. Txiki Begiristain and Sukia both came on in the second period.

Copa del Rey winners

Just when it appeared as if La Real would have to banish any thoughts of adding to their trophy haul came a Copa del Rey triumph in the 1986/86 campaign. The Blanquiazules, who had endured a mediocre league campaign, saw off Baskonia, Montijo, Villarreal, Eibar and Mallorca Atlético, against whom they registered one of the club's biggest all-time wins after putting the islanders to the sword in a 10-1 rout. La Real's semi-final opponents were Athletic and a goalless draw at Atotxa left the side with it all to do in the return leg. However, the visitors managed a 1-0 win at San Mamés, sealing their place in the showpiece courtesy of J.Mª Bakero's strike. The Copa del Rey final was played on 27 June 1987 at Zaragoza's La Romareda. Atlético Madrid were the opponents in what proved to be a hard-fought encounter. La Real drew first blood through Roberto López Ufarte, only for Jorge Da Silva to level matters. Txiki Begiristain restored the Blanquiazules' lead before Juan José Rubio replied to make it 2-2. No further goals were forthcoming during extra time and La Real went on to clinch glory in the shoot-out. John Toshack's side lined up as follows: Arkonada, Sagarzazu, Górriz, Dadie, Gajate, L.M. López Rekarte, Zamora, Larrañaga, López Ufarte, Txiki Begiristain and J.Mª Bakero. Musti Mujika and Martín Begiristain also featured. J.Mª Bakero, Juan María Mujika, Martín Begiristain and Juan Antonio Larrañaga all successfully converted their spot-kicks in the shoot-out. The missed penalties from Jorge Da Silva and Quique Ramos meant that there was no need for La Real to take a fifth penalty.

Runners-up on both fronts

The team again enjoyed another fine season in the 1987/88 campaign. La Real ended the year as league runners-up despite having started the season in poor form. On Matchday 4 the side were languishing one place off the bottom but a 13-game unbeaten streak propelled them up to second spot. However, on this occasions Real Madrid's lead at the top proved too great to overhaul and the team had to settle for second place. Meanwhile, in the Copa del Rey, La Real dumped Cartagena, Sporting Gijón and Atlético Madrid out of the competition, before facing Real Madrid in the semis. The first leg at Atotxa ended in a 1-0 win for the hosts, with J.Mª Bakero's strike enough to separate the sides. The return leg looked like being a tall order, but La Real claimed one of the most stunning results in the club's history in a 4-0 triumph secured thanks to a J.Mª Bakero brace and efforts from Alberto Górriz and Txiki Begiristain. La Real had managed to make it through to another Copa del Rey final, where they would face their bogey team, F.C Barcelona. Just as they had done in 1913, 1928 and 1951, the Catalans came out on top, once again preventing La Real from securing glory as they ran out 1-0 winners thanks to José Ramón Alexanko's strike.

Back on the European trail

The 1987 Copa del Rey success saw La Real take their place in the only continental competition they were yet to contest: the Cup Winners' Cup. The opening round saw the Blanquiazules pit their wits against Poland's Śląsk Wrocław. The first-leg encounter, which was played at San Mamés given that UEFA didn't allow European fixtures to be staged at Atotxa, ended in a goalless stalemate. The return clash in Poland saw the visitors enjoy a 2-0 win, with Txiki Begiristain and Loren amongst the goals for La Real. The team's next opponents were the Russian outfit Dinamo Minsk. By this stage, UEFA had lifted their restriction and La Real were able to host the first leg at Atotxa. The encounter ended in a 1-1 draw, with the goals coming from Georgi Kondratiev and Agustín Gajate. The return leg served up a goalless stalemate, meaning that the Russians progressed on the away goals rule. Finishing as runners-up in the two domestic competitions in the 1987/88 season meant that La Real qualified for the UEFA Cup. In their first game in the competition they came up against Dukla Prague, a game which ended in a 2-1 triumph for the hosts at Atotxa courtesy of a Mikel Loinaz brace. In the return leg, the Czech side raced into a 3-0 lead, but a Loren strike and another goal for Loinaz made it 3-2 and saw La Real advance. The second-round tie against Sporting Lisbon proved to be an all together more straightforward affair. Luciano Iturrino and Loren were on target in the first leg as the visitors claimed a 2-1 win in Portugal. There were no further goals in the return game back at Atotxa as La Real progressed to the third round, where they faced Cologne. The sides' first tussle, which took place at Atotxa, was decided by Loinaz's winner in a 1-0 win for the hosts. The return leg in Germany served up goals from Ion Andoni Goikoetxea and Miguel Ángel Fuentes, which cancelled out the strikes from Falko Goetz and Stephan Engels, with the 2-2 draw seeing La Real advance to the next round. Ultimately it was another German side in the form of Stuttgart who would end the team's European dreams. The first leg in Germany ended in a 1-0 defeat for La Real. The return match served up a 1-0 win for the home side after normal time, with Jesús María Zamora's goal the difference between the teams. The ensuing penalty shoot-out saw Stuttgart prevail and progress to the semi-finals.

Success on the international stage

La Real's on-field success saw several members of the team receive call-ups to the Spanish national side throughout this decade. Six of the club's players were included in the Spanish squad for the 1982 World Cup. The number of capped players in the squad dropped slightly in subsequent years, although the final years of the decade saw a new generation of internationals come through. The Blanquiazules to earn caps with the Spanish national team during this period were: Arkonada, Zamora, Satrustegi, Alonso, López Ufarte, Celayeta, Kortabarria, Górriz, Uralde, Diego, Idígoras, Larrañaga, López Rekarte, J.Mª Bakero and Txiki Begiristain

The end of an era

The 1988/89 season marked the end of a glorious era. The fact that this was the end of an era was represented by the retirement of two iconic figures in the shape of Luis Miguel Arconada and Jesús María Zamora. There was also a change in the dugout, with Marco Antonio Boronat taking over the reins from John Toshack.

Change aplenty to begin the decade

When football was introduced in Spain all of the teams featured foreign players in their ranks. During the early days, La Real boasted the likes of McGuinnes, Simmons, and Sydler, amongst others. Later on, players including Claudio Bravo, Aridex Calligaris and Agne Simonsson all turned out for the club. However, since the 1960s there had been no foreign players at La Real. During the 1989/90 season, a series of factors combined to see the board of directors, headed up by Iñaki Alkiza, alter this policy. Following an intense debate, the club's fan base ultimately approved the decision. Irish striker John Aldridge was the first foreigner in the club's modern era.

European qualification

La Real ended the 1989/90 season in fifth spot, a finish which guaranteed European football the following year. Following an inconsistent start, the team spent the whole campaign amongst the leading pack, but only secured a European spot on the final matchday. The Blanquiazules travelled to the Sánchez Pizjuán to take on Sevilla F.C., where Marco Antonio Boronat's men emerged victorious in a narrow 1-0 win secured courtesy of an Aldridge penalty. This strike, the Irishman's 16th of the league campaign, sealed fifth spot and European qualification.

Back in the UEFA Cup & struggles in the league

La Real's first opponents in their latest UEFA Cup campaign were Swiss outfit Lausanne. In the first leg in Switzerland, the visitors took a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals from José María Lumbreras and Agustín Gajate, only for Lausanne to mount a winning comeback thanks to a Marc Hottiger brace and a Stéphane Chapuisat strike. La Real triumphed in the second leg back at Atotxa, with Aldridge's solitary effort enough to see the team advance to the next round on away goals. Next up for the Blanquiazules were Partizan Belgrade. A last-minute Juan Antonio Larrañaga goal handed La Real a 1-0 first-leg win at Atotxa. In the return leg in Belgrade, Stevanovic's winner served to level the tie on aggregate. With no further goals scored in extra time, the game went to penalties, in which the Yugoslavs showed themselves to be more clinical than their Spanish opponents. This 1990/91 season saw La Real fail to match the early-season expectations, and after being held to a draw by Sevilla at Atotxa, the team were left down in 17th position. This dismal run of results saw Javier Expósito replace Marcon Antonio Boronat in the Atotxa hotseat. The Blanquiazules went on to turn their season around and end the campaign in 13th spot. An interesting point to note from this season is that under Expósito, La Real managed to inflict away defeats on Real Madrid, F.C. Barcelona and Valencia C.F. The victory at the Santiago Bernabéu marked the club's first-ever La Liga triumph on Madrid's patch.

Toshack returns The birth of Real Sociedad S.A.D. A poor showing in Europe

The 1991/92 season brought a familiar face back to the club in the shape of John Toshack. The Welshman made an encouraging start to his second spell in charge, with the side achieving a fifth-place finish and sealing a UEFA Cup berth. The birth of Real Sociedad S.A.D. The new Sports Law forced the majority of the La Liga clubs to become S.A.Ds (public limited sports companies). La Real was one of these clubs and president Iñaki Alkiza and his board of directors began to oversee the change in status from a club to a public limited sports company. The share capital required amounted to 558.875m pesetas, which was divided between 65,750 shares. The response from the club's members and supporters to the board's call for support was exemplary, with no other club managing to spread shares so widely amongst its fan base. The change in the club's legal status brought about the appointment of the new public limited sports company's first board of directors. Luis Uranga was appointed as the club's president. A poor showing in Europe Portuguese side Vitória de Guimarães were Real Sociedad's opponent in the UEFA Cup. A The heavy 3-0 defeat in Portugal made the task in the return leg at Atotxa virtually mission impossible. Two early strikes from José María Lumbreras and Miguel Fuentes gave Toshack's troops hope, but they failed to go on and complete the comeback and the 2-0 win ultimately wasn't enough.

Farewell to Atotxa

The 1992/93 season was one of transition for the club on the field and it also marked a monumental change in the course of the club's history, with La Real set to leave Atotxa, which had been their home for 80 years, and move to the Estadio de Anoeta. This brought an end to a whole chapter in the club's history, whilst at the same time satisfying one of the club's long-held aspirations to have a new stadium which would resolve some of the organisational issues within the club. La Real's final competitive fixture at Atotxa saw the team take on Tenerife on 13 June 1993. The home side ran out 3-1 winners, wit Meho Kodro and Océano (2) both getting their names on the scoresheet. The club finally bode farewell to Atotxa several days later, on 22 June, in what was an emotional day.

First season at Anoeta

Anoeta was opened on 13 August 1993 with a fixture between Real Sociedad and Real Madrid, which ended in a 2-2 draw, held to mark the event. The first competitive game played at the new stadium saw Real Sociedad play host to Real Zaragoza. Goals from Bittor Alkiza and Meho Kodro were cancelled out by strikes from Santiago Aragón and Francisco Higuera as the sides played out a 2-2 stalemate. The move to Anoeta brought with it a significant increase in the stadium's capacity, which could now hold 18,000 compared to the 13,000 fans that Atotxa could house. As far as on-field events were concerned, this was a transitional season in which La Real finished in 11th.

Two similar campaigns

La Real fared pretty similarly in the following two seasons: A slow start, a change in coach and an upturn in fortunes. The 1994/5 season got underway with John Toshack at the helm. However, a home defeat to Celta on Matchday 11 saw La Real slump to 17th, at which point John Toshack was relieved of his duties and Salva Iriarte took over the reins. The was a reaction from the team and La Real ended the campaign in 11th place. Salva Iriarte embarked on his second season in charge of the team and just as in the previous campaign, the team made a poor start and a home draw against F.C. Barcelona on Matchday 14 saw the side slip down to 16th. This lowly position would cost Iriarte his job and in came Javier Irureta. Once again, the team reacted positively to the change of coach and there was even talk of European qualification, but ultimately La Real had to settle for seventh spot. Javier Irureta remained at the helm at the start of the following season, in which the team made a fine start. However, despite spending the whole year in the European spots, the side ended the season in eighth and failed to qualify for the UEFA Cup. The end of this season saw Irureta call time on his spell in charge of Real Soceidad.

A new coach & European qualification yet again secured

The 1997/98 season saw a new coach appointed at Anoeta, with German tactician Bernd Krauss named head coach. The fixture list wasn't very kind to La Real, who were handed trips to the Camp Nou and the Bernabéu in their opening two away assignments. The team headed into Matchday 3 in 15th spot, after which they embarked on a 17-game undefeated run to propel themselves to the top end of the table. La Real spent the whole season in the European qualification spots and ultimately ended the season by achieving a brilliant third-place finish, which would see the team once again grace the European stage. Anoeta hosts a first European fixture This season saw Anoeta play host to European games for the first time. La Real's first opponents were Sparta Prague. The Blanquiazules claimed a stunning 4-2 win in the Czech capital, a result secured courtesy of a Darko Kovacevic brace and further strikes from Aitor Aldeondo and Javi De Pedro. The return showdown at Anoeta also ended in victory for Krauss' men, with Kovacevic's solitary strike proving the difference between the sides. Next up for La Real were Russia's Dynamo Moscow. A Kovacevic double and a De Pedro effort saw the team race into a 3-0 goal lead in the Russian capital, but two goals in a the space of one second-half minute from Sergei Nekrasov made it 3-2 to the visitors. The return game turned out to be a comfortable night for La Real, who ran out 3-0 winners thanks to two goals from Kovacevic (2) and Óscar De Pauala. The draw for the third round saw La Real paired with Atlético Madrid. The first leg was played at Anoeta, where Juninho put the Madrilenians into the ascendancy. However, Kovacevic was on target and a Roberto own goal saw La Real take a 2-1 advantage into the second leg. In the return game, La Real slipped to a 4-1 extra-time defeat, with Javi Gracia's effort failing to cancel out Vladimir Jugovic's double. The game went into extra time, during which Atlético Madrid scored a further two goals through José Mari and Santi. However, this tie brings back sad memories for La Real after one the club's travelling supporters, Aitor Zabaleta, was murdered in Madrid. As for the team's league campaign, Krauss' charges failed to reproduce the excellent form of last season. After getting off to a bad start, the side fought back to spend the whole season in mid-table.

Poor starts sees La Real suffer

Krauss embarked on his third season at the helm, and although the side's first two outings ended in a draw away to Sevilla and victory over Atlético Madrid at Anoeta, things soon began to turn sour. On Matchday 9, La Real were held at home by Alavés and dropped down to 17th spot. It was at this point that Javier Clemente was drafted in to replace Krauss. La Real spent the whole campaign in the lower reaches of the table, but mathematically sealed survival on the penultimate matchday following a year of real suffering.

Struggles on & off the field

Javier Clemente began the 2000/01 season as the club's coach, but he failed to deliver good results and after a home thrashing at the hands of F.C. Barcelona and a reverse at Vallecas, La Real slumped to 18th spot and a new managerial appointment was made. Periko Alonso was named coach and took over from Clemente. However, there was no improvement in results and in December 2001, Alonso stepped down. In his place, the club recruited a familiar face in John Toshack. The team did improve but with five matchdays remaining a home defeat to Valencia left La Real in serious trouble. Nevertheless, the team rallied and picked up a win in Villarreal, a draw in Zaragoza and a victory over Málaga at Anoeta. The penultimate round of fixtures saw La Real head to San Mamés. A 3-1 win with goals from Edgaras Jankauskas, Javi De Pedro and Iñigo Idiakez sealed La Real's top-flight survival. However, the crisis that engulfed the club during this season wasn't purely limited to the on-field affairs. In December 2001, Luis Uranga stood down as the club's president and he called elections for March 2001. The following three candidates stood in the elections: José Luis Astiazarán, Ignacio Gallo and Peio Gibelalde. The elections were held on 22 March 2001 and José Luis Astiazarán was appointed president. Further suffering The team headed into the 2001/02 campaign with John Toshack at the helm. A dismal start to the league campaign, which yielded just two points from the opening eight matchdays, left La Real in a big trouble. A run of three straight wins provided some respite, but La Real would been made to suffer throughout the whole season. On Matchday 29, the team slipped to defeat at home against Tenerife and the board made the decision to bring in a new coach. John Toshack was replaced by a coaching team made up of Roberto Olabe, Jesús Mari Zamora and Julen Masach. The side produced a reaction and La Real once again mathematically secured their league status on the penultimate matchday. On this occasion, survival was sealed in a 3-1 success at Valladolid, in a game in which Mikel Aranburu, Iñigo Idiakez and Darko Kovacevic all weighed in with goals.

Within touching distance of glory

The 2002/03 season began with some structural changes within the club's footballing operations. Roberto Olabe, who had been in charge of the team for the final matchdays of the previous season, became the club's director of football, whilst Frenchman Raynald Denoueix was named as head coach, with Jesús Mari Zamora and Julen Masach appointed as his assistants. In terms of the squad, in addition to a return for Valeri Karpin, both Gabriel Schürrer and the Asturian-born Boris checked in at Anoeta. The season got underway with a 4-2 triumph over Athletic, a game in which the Nihat-Kovacevic strike partnership showed early signs of what a potent force they would be. Barring defeat in the Copa del Rey at the hands of Zarazoga, La Real enjoyed a stunning first half of the season, in which they went unbeaten as they held on to top spot from Matchday 6. Defeat in Bilbao in the first outing of the second half of the campaign led to a mini-crisis with a series of poor results that the team relinquish top spot on Matchday 24 after succumbing against Valladolid. On Matchday 29, Real Madrid headed to Anoeta intent on tying up the league title, but La Real had other ideas and produced a fine performance to record a 4-2 win as the Blanquiazules made it clear that they still harbored ambitions of securing the league crown. Victory over Recreativo at Anoeta sent La Real back to the summit, where they would remain until the penultimate round of fixtures, when defeat in Vigo - on a day the team were backed by an army of 9,000 Blanquiazules' fans - coupled with Real Madrid's derby victory over Atlético left the Madridistas within touching distance of the title. Los Blancos ensured there were no slip-ups in their last game of the season to make La Real's win over Atlético Madrid academic. This second-place finish saw the team return to Europe's top table as they clinched a spot in the Champions League group stage.

Struggles in La Liga & a good showing in Champions League

There were hardly any changes to the make-up of the squad for the 2003/04 season. Bittor Alkiza and Korean striker Lee Chun Soo checked in to Anoeta, whilst Korkut Tayfun and Dmitri Khokhlov headed out the exit door. After a shaky start to the season, La Real recovered and victory against Osasuna at Anoeta on Matchday 6 left the team sitting pretty in 6th spot. However, a dreadful run of results condemned La Real to the relegation spots by Matchday 17. Five straight wins at the turn of the year handed the team some breathing space, but the side then went on another bad run which left them in danger out the drop right until the penultimate matchday. In the Champions League, La Real were drawn in a group with Olympiacos, Galatasaray and Juventus. The team got off to a flying start, with wins over Olympiacos at Anoeta and Galatasary in Istanbul. The double-header against Juventus yielded a defeat in Turin and a goalless stalemate at Anoeta. A subsequent 2-2 draw in Athens left La Real requiring a point from their final game to book their place in the round of 16. This final group game saw La Real host Galatasaray at Anoeta. Hakan Sukur struck to put the Turks into the ascendancy in the first half, before Óscar De Paula hit an equaliser to seal La Real's place in the next stage as group runners-up. In the round of 16, La Real were paired with Olympique Lyon, who claimed 1-0 victories in both games. Meanwhile, in April 2004 the new Zubieta XXI complex was opened, heralded by the club's president as "one of the best training facilities across Europe".

On-field changes and off-field strife

The season got underway with a change in the dugout, with Denoueix dismissed and José María Amorrortu appointed. As for the changes within the squad, the most significant movements concerned the sale of Xabi Alonso to Liverpool and the loan exits of Lee C. Soo and Boris. Meanwhile, there were returns for Luiz Alberto, whilst Mikel Arteta, Adriano Rossato and Jérémie Brechet all joined the club. After a poor start to the season in which La Real sat rock bottom by Matchday 5, the team recovered and spent virtually the rest of the campaign in mid-table. During the winter transfer window Arteta was loaned out to Everton, whilst Dragan Mladenovic checked in. As for the off-field events, the assembly held on 30 December saw the board's proposal to increase the share capital rejected, although they did draw enough votes to remain in place. The same assembly meeting saw the club's president, José Luis Astiazaran, announce that elections would be held on 30 June. Although during the following months there was talk of other candidates running in these elections, ultimately the elections were contested by the 'Denonerreala' group, headed up by Miguel Fuentes and another candidacy led by Miguel Santos. Fuentes drew the support of 60.69% of the shares represented at the assembly meeting and was appointed as the club's new president.

A season of on-field suffering Farewell to Ormaetxea The 'caso Zubiaurre' opens

Fuentes' installment as president brought with it changes to the club's footballing operations personnel, with José Mari Bakero replacing Roberto Olabe as director of football. José María Amorrortu continued on as head coach, whilst Gaizka Garitano, Cifu and Álvaro Novo all joined the club, with the former two both signed during the previous board's reign. Elsewhere, the most noteworthy departures where those of Valeri Karpin and Bittor Alkiza. La Real endured a stuttering start, although they did recover and victory over Getafe at the end of October saw the team move up into fifth spot. From this point onwards, the side went on a poor run of form which included just one win in 12 outings. This streak cost Amorrortu his job, with the coach dismissed after the Matchday 21 reverse in Vitoria. Gonzalo Arconada was appointed as the club's new coach and Dalibor Stevanovic, Morten Skoubo, Mark González and Jhon Viafara were all signed to boost the squad. Arconada's reign began with a win over Mallorca but he was unable to reverse the side's fortunes and defeat in Pamplona on Matchday 29 saw the Blanquiazules slip into the relegation zone. Arconada was relieved of his duties and José Mari Bakero, who would combine his role as director of football with that of the first-team coach, replaced him in the dugout. Under Bakero's stewardship, the team hauled themselves out of the drop zone and secured their safety on the penultimate matchday of the season by holding Celta to a draw at Anoeta. In terms of the on-field events, it should also be noted that Real Sociedad Women clinched promotion to the Superliga (the top flight of the Spanish women's game) in this campaign. During the course of the season, the Real Sociedad family mourned a major loss as Alberto Ormaeetxea, who delivered two league titles during his time as coach, passed away. Off the field, the capital increase proposed by the board was approved at the assembly meeting held on 30 December. The so-called 'Zubiaurre case' is also deserving of special mention. This legal case began during this season and remain unresolved for a long period. Soon after being appointed as president Fuentes found himself with a player under contract at La Real, Iban Zubiaurre, unveiled as an Athletic player. La Real believed that Zubiaurre unilaterally terminated his contract and requested that the player paid the club his release clause by way of compensation, whilst also calling for Athletic to be held liable for subsidiary civil liability. For his part, the player sued La Real for unfair dismissal. In August 2005, Judge Ricardo Bandrés dismissed the complaint filed by Zubiaurre, whilst December also saw the Basque High Court of Justice (TSJPV) rejected the player's case. In March, Judge Francesc Xavier González sentenced Zubiaurre to pay La Real €5 million and adjudged Athletic to be vicariously liable.

Relegation after 40-season stay in Primera An off-field crisis

After steering the side to safety in the previous campaign, Bakero headed into the new season again set to combine the roles of head coach and director of football. The side was strengthened with the arrivals of Claudio Bravo, Juanito, Gerardo, Fabio Felicio and Diego Rivas, whilst the most noteworthy departures were those of Alberto, Óscar De Paula, Nihat and Mark González. Despite the team picking up a draw in their first outing of the season at San Mamés, five straight defeats followed, which saw La Real sink to foot of the table. On the back of their draw in Mallorca, the team were on the receiving end of a hiding at Málaga in the teams' Copa del Rey first-leg clash, a result which saw Bakero sacked and Miguel Ángel Lotina appointed as coach. The change in the dugout failed to have the desired effect and La Real remained marooned in the drop zone all season despite the arrivals of Sávio Bortolini, Víctor López and Germán Herrera in the winter transfer window. Defeat in Pamplona with three matchdays remaining, after the team had claimed back-to-back victories against Gimnàstic and Celta, left La Real with a mountain to climb to secure survival. However, the team's relegation was ultimately only confirmed on the final matchday of the season away at Valencia. As far as the off-field go, the major headline involved Fuentes' resignation as the club's president on 1 June and the appointment of María de la Peña in his place. The board of directors also decided to ask the shareholders to ratify their positions at an assembly held on 30 June. Meanwhile, there was a further update in the 'Zubiaurre case', when the Basque High Court of Justice (TSJPV) confirmed the sentence issued by Judge Francesc Xavier González, a decision which all parties appealed against at the Supreme Court.

On the verge of promotion The off-field crisis goes on

The assembly meeting held on 30 June approved María de la Peña as the club's chairwoman. Also appointed at the same time were Salva Iriarte as director of football and Welshman Chris Coleman as head coach. Andrija Delibasic and David Vaughan were signed, whilst Darko Kovacevic and Savio Bortolini both departed. The team's first two home games both ended in defeat, although away victories at Eibar and Las Palmas served to soften those blows. On Matchday 7, La Real were sitting in fifth place but a poor run of results saw them slip down the standings to 14th by Matchday 13. The team gradually began to climb the table in January and just a few weeks after the appointment of Iñaki Badiola as club president, Coleman handed in his resignation, with the team lying a point adrift of third spot. José Ramón Eizmendi replaced the departing Welshman in the dugout. The arrival of the new president brought with it the signings of Martí, Nacho, Fran Mérida and Víctor Casadesús. The team enjoyed a good run of results and after getting the better of U.D. Las Palmas at Anoeta took its place in the promotion spots for the first time. However, three defeats in a row, against Numancia, Sporting and Racing Ferrol, brought an end to Eizmendi's spell in charge and saw Juan Manuel Lillo appointed. With Numancia the runaway leaders, La Real were embroiled in the battle for promotion with Málaga and Sporting Gijón. On the penultimate matchday, La Real travelled to Vitoria, whilst Sporting headed to Castellón and Málaga were in action in Granada. La Real were leading 2-1 in their game, a result which coupled with Sporting's defeat left the team on course for promotion. However, Alavés mounted an injury-time comeback to leave Real down in fourth. The final round of fixtures failed to see the Blanquiazules break back into the promotion places. As far as the off-field events go, the announcement of interest from a Chinese-Gipuzkoan investment group, headed up by Iñaki Badiola, to purchase 35% of the share capital triggered a debate about the club's model. María de la Peña resigned as chairwoman on 14 November and elections were called for 3 January. Juan Larzabal was temporarily installed as president. Whilst there were suggestions right up until the 11th hour that another candidate would run in the elections, ultimately the only candidate to put themselves forward was Iñaki Badiola. The promises made by Badiola, both concerning financial and on-field affairs, excited many fans and the businessman received 72% of the represented shares. Under Badiola's presidency, Pako Ayestarán was brought in as head of football operations. On 14 January, Iriarte was dismissed, on the 16th Coleman resigned and on the 22nd it was Ayestarán who stepped down after Badiola refused to appoint Juan Carlos Oliva as head coach.

On-field efforts fail to reap rewards & on-field strife

The last-gasp defeat in Vitoria-Gasteiz condemned La Real to another season in the second tier. This on-field disappointment was compounded by the financial struggles and the strained relationships within the club. On 15 June the board of directors called a Extraordinary Shareholders' Meeting in which all of their proposals were dismissed. A few days later, on 7 July, La Real went into administration and the running of the club was handed over to three administrators. As for on-field affairs, the team continued to be managed by Juan Manuel Lillo, who completed the signings of Moha, Sergio Rodríguez, Marcos, Necati Ateş and Boukary Dramé. The team made a strong start to the season but after Matchday 5 the side embarked on a dismal run that distanced them from the promotion places. However, victory over Huesca at Anoeta put La Real back in the mix. The Blanquiazules ended the first half of the campaign in seventh place and just a point off second spot. Sebastián Abreu joined the club in the winter transfer window to bolster the the side's attacking options. The team endured another poor run of form which included a draw and three straight defeats, with this sequence leaving them nine points off the pace in February. Nevertheless, La Real didn't give up hope and despite putting together some fine results, the consistent form of those in the leading pack meant that they failed to make an impression on the promotion race. La Real ultimately ended the campaign in sixth place. Meanwhile, off the field, the general assembly held on 20 December saw a group of shareholders, headed up by Jokin Aperribay, propose the removal of the board of directors. In a climate of real tension, the motion was approved and Aperribay was named as the club's new president.

The centenary provides a breath of fresh air

In the midst of this tense atmosphere, the club's centenary celebrations represented a fine opportunity to look back on our club's history, reinforce the pride in our club and strengthen the ties with the fan base. The celebrations began on 20 January as La Real took centre stage in the ceremony to lower the San Sebastián flag in the city's Plaza de la Constitución. From this point on and up until 7 September, events were held right across Gipuzkoa. The main centenary celebration took place on 15 August, with the major event being the game against Real Madrid. A Real Madrid side packed full of stars, including Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Kaká, were made to work as they ran out 2-0 winners in a game played in an tremendous atmosphere. On 7 September - the date which marked the club's 100th anniversary - an institutional ceremony was held to pay tribute to the club's all-time best starting XI as voted by members of the public. This event officially brought the celebrations to an end. It was on this day that the club opened the Museo Real100, which represents one of the legacies that lives on from the centenary celebrations.

Return to Primera

La Real's third season in Segunda began with a change at the helm. Uruguayan coach Martín Lasarte was recruited in place of Juan Manuel Lillo. Johnatan Estrada, Alberto De la Bella, Emilio Nsue and Carlos Bueno all completed moves to Anoeta, whilst an extremely young Antoine Griezmann made a surprising breakthrough into a squad in which academy products were a dominant feature. The team made an inconsistent start to the season, with their maiden victory not coming until Matchday 5, when Huesca were the visitors to Anoeta. In their next outing, La Real once again put three points on the board, on this occasion in their trip to Numancia. This triumph saw the Blanquiazules take their place in the promotion spots, where they would remain all season. La Real finished the first half of the campaign in second place with a healthy advantage on fourth spot. During the window transfer window, Franck Songo'o was drafted in to strengthen the ranks. Despite clinching top spot on Matchday 28 and remaining there until the end of the season, the battle to achieve promotion was an intense one, with up to six teams in the mix heading into the last four games. Victory in Cádiz secured courtesy of a Carlos Bueno hat-trick put La Real on the brink of promotion to Primera and one week later, on 13 June, the Blanquiazules played host to Celta, with the home faithful creating a tremendous atmosphere to will their side on. A Xabi Prieto spot-kick and a Bueno strike sent the locals into raptures as La Real returned to Primera. Meanwhile, on 15 January 2010, the Mercantile Court approved the creditors' agreement proposed by the board of directors and La Real came out of administration.

Strong start peters out

La Real headed into their first season back in Primera with the overriding objective being to achieve stability both on and off the field. Martín Lasarte remained in charge and the squad was strengthened by well-know veterans like Joseba Llorente and Raúl Tamudo, who were joined at the club by Paco Sutil, Jeffrey Sarpong and Diego Ifrán. In addition, Norwegian central defender Vadim Demidov was brought to the club in January. La Real spent most of the campaign in mid-table and they climbed as high as sixth, their highest position, in December following a 2-0 derby triumph over Athletic at Anoeta. The first half of the season was capped off with a handsome win at Getafe, which left the team sitting pretty in 11th and with a significant buffer on the relegation places. Victory over Mallorca in February moved La Real up to eighth and level on points with seventh spot to ignite hopes of a European bid. A poor run of form featuring a draw and six defeats saw the side's European aspirations fade away and La Real were now struggling. Wins over Barcelona and Zaragoza at Anoeta provided some breathing space, but the side headed into the final round of fixtures requiring a point to retain their top-flight status. This crunch clash saw La Real face a Getafe side for whom survival was also on the line. The Madrilenians forged ahead but a Paco Sutil strike levelled matters and sealed survival.

A season of transition

The 2011/12 season began with a change in the dugout as Philippe Montanier replaced Martín Lasarte in the Anoeta hotseat. The likes of Carlos Vela and McDonald Mariga checked in, whilst youth-team graduates such as Antoine Griezmann, David Zurutuza, Asier Illarramendi, Iñigo Martínez and Imanol Agirretxe began to cement their places in the team. Following an unspectacular start to the season, the side suffered a dismal run of results in October which saw them slip into the relegation places. Last-gasp triumphs over Betis at the Benito Villamarín and a week later against Málaga at Anoeta provided some hope and bought the coach some time. A heavy defeat in the Copa del Rey against Mallorca in January once again saw the doubts resurface, but a win at Valencia a few days later served to calm the fears. From this point onwards, La Real spent the rest of the campaign in the lower-mid echelons of the table without ever being under serious threat of suffering relegation. The final game of the season saw the club bid farewell to captain Mikel Aranburu.

Return to Europe's top table

Montanier embarked on his second season in charge with a squad that was bolstered by the arrivals of José Ángel and Chory Castro, whilst academy products like Rubén Pardo were drafted into the first-team set-up. After a slow start to the season, a home reverse against Espanyol on Matchday 10 once again placed La Real perilously close to the drop zone. The team recovered excellently to pick up 10 of the next available 12 points in a run that featured an emphatic win away to Valencia. La Real finished the first half of the campaign in ninth place and five points off the European spots. The second half of the season couldn't have got off to a better start as the team got the better of Barcelona at Anoeta. The side continued to record some good results, such as the victory registered in the last-ever derby encounter played at San Mamés and the win over Atlético Madrid at the Vicente Calderón. The triumph over Atleti left La Real in fifth and firmly in the European hunt. A handsome win over Valladolid in the team's next outing took them up to fourth, which was the final Champions League spot. Between this point and the end of the season, La Real would have a real battle on their hands to hold on to fourth place. Victories over two of their main rivals, Málaga and Valencia, looked to have left the Blanquiazules well on track for a Champions League place, but defeat in Getafe, the side's only reverse throughout the whole of the second half of the season, and a draw against Granada, left La Real level on points with Valencia. The team responded with a massive win away to Sevilla and in the penultimate game of the season, Xabi Prieto's injury-time strike saw La Real salvage a point from their game against Real Madrid. The side were sitting in fifth place and two points off Valencia, meaning that it would all come down to the final matchday. Both La Real and the Valencians faced away trips in their last games of the season. An Antoine Griezmann strike handed La Real victory at Riazor, whilst Valencia succumbed to defeat against Sevilla. La Real make Champions League return following 13-year absence

Anoeta was again set to play host to Champions League football

The 2013/14 season brought a change in the dugout. Following a two-year spell at the club, Philippe Montanier was replaced by Jagoba Arrasate. Haris Seferovic, Esteban Granero and Sergio Canales all joined the La Real ranks, with Canales checking in during the winter transfer window. Meanwhile, Real Madrid secured the services of Asier Illarramendi after meeting his release clause. The fine fourth-place finish brilliantly secured at the close of the previous campaign meant that La Real would have to contest a playoff as they sought to take their place in the Champions League group stage. The draw saw La Real paired with a familiar face in the shape of Olympique Lyon, who were incidentally the side who had brought an end to our previous Champions League campaign. This time round the outcome turned out to be very different. In the first leg, played in Lyon, La Real ran out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Antoine Griezmann and Haris Seferovic. The return clash yielded the very same scoreline as Carlos Vela bagged a brace. In the group stage, La Real were drawn with Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen and Manchester United. Despite deserving to have taken more from both games, the Blanquiazules opened their group campaign with two defeats, firstly against Shakhtar at Anoeta and then away to Leverkusen. The double-header against Manchester United saw the team slip to a one-goal defeat at Old Trafford before holding the Reds Devils to a goalless stalemate at Anoeta. However, La Real's involvement in Europe's elite club competition came to an end following a further two defeats that saw them bow out at the group stage.

Excellent showing in the Copa del Rey European qualification once again secured

This season saw the team enjoy an excellent run in the Copa del Rey. After overcoming Algeciras, Villarreal and Racing, La Real were pitted against F.C. Barcelona in the semis. In a game marked by some controversial refereeing, the Catalans took command of the tie after a 2-0 first-leg success at the Camp Nou. The return leg produced a 1-1 draw to leave La Real dreaming of what might have been. After a shaky start in the league campaign, the team began to recover after their Matchday 9 triumph in Valencia. A rout against Osasuna on Matchday 12 propelled the side into the European spots, which is where they remained for the rest of the season. Despite once again qualifying for Europe, the way in which the team signed off for the season at Anoeta left a bitter taste in the mouth. A draw against Granada and defeat against Villarreal meant that La Real had to settle for a seventh-place finish and faced the prospect of having to overcome two Europa League qualifiers in their bid to reach the tournament proper.

Early end to European campaign & struggles in La Liga

The 2014/15 season brought with it some major changes in the make-up of the squad. Two of the main figures in the success enjoyed over the course of the previous few seasons, Claudio Bravo and Antoine Griezmann, moved to Barcelona and Atlético Madrid respectively. Their departures were followed by those of Haris Seferovic and José Ángel. Moving in the other direction were Gerónimo Rulli, Alfreð Finnbogason and Yuri Berchiche. The team's seventh-place finish in the previous campaign meant that they would have to negotiate two qualifying matches if they were to take their place in the Europa League group stage. In the first of these, La Real prevailed over Scottish side Aberdeen, after winning both legs of the tie. The second qualifier saw the Blanquiazules paired against Russia's Krasnodar. La Real ran out 1-0 winners in the first leg at Anoeta, but they failed to hold on to their advantage as they slipped to a 3-0 reverse in the second leg. Meanwhile, the team's fortunes took a turn for the worse domestically and a home defeat against Málaga on Matchday 10 left La Real one place off the bottom and led to a change in the dugout. David Moyes, who had previously visited Anoeta as the manager of Manchester United, was the man chosen to replace Jagoba Arrasate. The team got back on track under the Scottish coach but never threatened to challenge for the European spots. An interesting fact from this season is that La Real managed to overcome Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid and F.C. Barcelona at Anoeta, with these wins coming under three different managers: Jagoba Arrasate, Asier Santana and David Moyes respectively.

A season that failed to live up to the expectations

La Real headed into the 2015/16 season with a squad strengthened by the acquisitions of players including Jonathas, Bruma, Diego Antonio Reyes, Oier, Raúl Navas and in particularly Asier Illarramendi, who returned to Anoeta following a two-year spell at Real Madrid. Meanwhile, Alfreð Finnbogason, Eñaut Zubikarai and Liassine Cadamuro all departed. Just as in the previous campaign, the team failed to get off to a good start and in the wake of a defeat at Las Palmas and with the team teetering dangerously close to the drop zone, Moyes was relieved of his duties. Eusebio Sacristán was appointed as La Real's new head coach. Under Eusebio's stewardship, the side showed themselves to be capable of achieving some fine results, like the four straight wins recorded between Matchdays 22 and 25, but also a propensity to suffer poor patches of form. This inconsistency meant that the team spent the whole campaign in mid-table as they finish the season in ninth.

Trophy haul

1908 - 1909

Copa del Rey

1980 - 1981


1981 - 1982



Spanish Super Cup

1986 - 1987

Copa del Rey

2018 - 2019


2019 - 2020

Copa del Rey

Historical archives

Look through our document archives and find our how La Real performed in previous seasons, including results, the players who played for the club and information on all of the coaches throughout the club's history.

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Museum Real100

Anoeta pasalekua, 1

20014 Donostia / San Sebastián (Gipuzkoa)

Teléfono (34) 943 47 39 53

[email protected]

How to get there

October - April

Tuesday - Saturday

10:30 - 13:30

16:30 - 19:30

May - September

Monday - Saturday

10:30 - 13:30

16:30 - 19:30

On matchdays the museum is open an hour and a half before kick-off, with entry free for season-ticket holders and those with tickets for the game.

The museum is closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

We have special opening times at Christmas and Easter.

October - April

Tuesday - Friday

11:00 (Basque)

12:00 (Spanish)

May - September

Monday - Saturday

11:00 (Basque)

12:00 (Spanish)

The stadium tours don't operate on matchdays or the day after a game. Likewise, the tours are subject to change, depending on the events taking place at the stadium.

  Museum Museum + Stadium tour
Adults €4 €6
Children under 14 €2 €3
Adult season-ticket holders €2 €3
Season-ticket holders under 14 Free Free