I really want Socuéllamos to be the sort of town where you could find a Charles Bronson-type character, just sat playing his harmonica as you arrive at the railway station. In reality it is just another small town on the La Mancha plain, where years will pass and not a great deal will happen. 90 years have passed since Unión Deportiva Socuéllamos was formed, but out of keeping with its surroundings, something rather special has just occurred.
Formed in July 1924, UD Socuéllamos spent the first forty years of its existence playing in the lower reaches of the regional leagues, with opposition made up of teams from the west of La Mancha and Madrid. They first reached the Tercera in 1963, and a few top half finishes were achieved before dropping back into obscurity six years later. It would take another 22 years for UD Socuellamos to return to the Tercera, but since 1990, they have been practically ever present. The few occasions when they have dropped into the Regional Preferente have seen a swift return, usually with the league title their name.
The club’s most recent regional title was achieved in June 2013, and it would have been fair to assume that the patterns of the previous two decades in the Tercera would follow. Namely, several years of treading water, not really bothering either end of the table. Well, nothing could have been further from the truth. Nine wins in the first twelve fixtures saw UD Socuéllamos firmly entrenched in the promotion places, a position they never relinquished, finally finishing runners-up to CD Puertollano. The play-offs saw the club first beat Praviano 2-1 on aggregate, before a 2-0 win over CE Europa was secured in the next round. The final round paired them with Linares, and after a 2-1 victory in the home leg, UD Socuellamos hung on to a 0-0 draw to secure promotion to Segunda B.
This season of unparallelled success was played out at the Estadio Paquito Jiménez, the club’s home since 1960. Situated on the south-eastern outskirts of town, the stadium has undergone a few transformations. It was originally a square-sided enclosure with four narrow terraces around a dirt pitch. The stadium received a considerable makeover in 2002, when its end terraces were removed to make way for an athletics track. A basic propped cantilevered cover was added over the west terrace and a new changing block was built on the east side. The 2002 re-fit also saw the town’s first artificial surface was installed.
A new artificial pitch was installed in August 2013 and the west stand gain blue & white bucket seats, whilst the changing block received a makeover. The club and the local council have committed to the building of a 400-seat temporary stand on the east side which will also include new media facilities. This will raise the capacity of this perfectly respectable provincial ground to 2400. Perfectly suited for these Men from La Mancha, as they go into battle with some real giants of Segunda B.