What is your local sports centre like? A couple of badminton courts, a five-a-side pitch and a gym full of complicated equipment? Maybe you’re lucky and there’s a swimming pool overlooked by a café? The sort of café that sells you the food that will pile on the calories you've just earnestly burnt off. Whatever the set up, I bet it’s not a patch on a community sports centre you’ll find in Pamplona’s San Juan district.
Founded in 1962, Agrupación Deportiva San Juan was the brainchild of several residents of the Casas de Eguaras. 50 years on and it has 11,000 members who enjoy, practise and compete in 14 different sports, including a football team in the fourth tier of the Spanish league system. The football section has been there from the start, finally emerging from the local & regional leagues to reach the Tercera in 1986. Thirteen seasons of, well, not very much followed. AD San Juan usually fought off relegation, occasionally reached mid-table, and very occasionally, 1989-90 to be precise, reached the top four. The club dropped back to the regional leagues at the turn of the century, and remained there for six of the next seven seasons.
AD San Juan’s return to the Tercera in 2007 saw a marked improvement in form. Now playing in a swanky new ground, the club clocked-up five successive top half finishes, before claiming their first Tercera title in 2013. Unfortunately, their first experience of the play-offs was not a happy one. They lost in the Campeones round to Madrid-based Puerta Bonita (0-1 on aggregate) before succumbing to Compostela 1-4 on aggregate in the semi-final round. The Tercera title also earned them a place in to 2014 Copa del Rey, where they were drawn away to Burgos, losing 1-3 after extra time. For much of the 2013-14 season, AD San Juan looked to be on track to retain their Tercera title. They remained unbeaten for the first 37 fixtures of the season. If they could avoid defeat in their final fixture away at Osasuna B, they would join an elite group of six other clubs who had completed a Spanish league campaign unbeaten. Regrettably, it was not to be. AD San Juan’s 1-0 loss coupled with rivals Izarra winning 7-1, inflicted a double disappointment. No unbeaten season and no league title.
The facilities provided at San Juan are hugely impressive and would be the pride of a city twice the size of Pamplona. Spread over 65,000m2 in the western suburbs, the site has a myriad of sporting facilities. Swimming pools stand next to tennis courts, martial arts are practiced next to the very Basque sport of Pelota, whilst the southern side is dominated by an indoor arena. However, it is the football stadium that catches (this) eye. Built in 2006 at the western end of the complex, the Campo de San Juan is a single-stand enclosure, featuring a bright, full length cantilevered tribuna on the northern side. Beneath its roof sit 500 green seats arranged in four rows, which straddle the halfway line and run to each penalty area. At either end of the stand are two pods, the eastern one of which houses the changing facilities. Hard standing surrounds the other three sides of the artificial pitch, raising the capacity to 1500.
|Now that's what I call a sports centre|
|New stadium and new start for AD San Juan|
|Campo de San Juan in 2013|