Camp de Les Corts

Where FC Barcelona Came of Age

The Camp de Les Corts was the successor to the club's first owned ground, the Camp del Carrer Indústria, and was the FC Barcelona stadium from 1922 to 1957.

The stadium was situated in the Les Corts neighbourhood between Carrers Numància, Travessera de les Corts, Vallespir and Marquès de Sentmenat and was the scene of the growth and development of FC Barcelona, of periods of great success but also of great difficulty for both the club and the people of Barcelona.

The pitch measured 101 metres by 62 metres and the stadium was designed by architects Santiago Mestres i Josep Alemany.

When it opened the Camp de les Corts had a capacity of 30,000 spectators but the ground was expanded and when it closed there was space for 60,000.

It was at Les Corts that football really professionalised and FC Barcelona really came of age as a sporting institution.


Opening the Camp de les Corts

In 1919, a golden age of FC Barcelona had begun with a side including Samitier, Alcántara, Zamora, Sagi, Piera and Sancho.

The club was increasing in size and importance as well as fast becoming a symbol of Catalanism and had outgrown old Camp del Carrer Indústria and so it was desperately in need of a new stadium.

The Camp de Les Corts was built in record time with the first stone being laid on February 19th 1922 and the opening game being played just three months later on May 20th.

The first match was against Scottish side Saint Mirren and the result was a 2-1 victory for Barcelona with an own goal by Birrel and the winner scored by Alcántara.

The FC Barcelona starting line-up was  Zamora, Planas, Surroca, Torralba, Sancho, Samitier, Piera, Martínez, Gràcia, Alcántara and Sagi.

THe original ground had only one main stand and was planned to have a capacity of 25,00 but when it opened there was room for 30,000 spectators. In 1926, the capacity was increased to 45,000.

FC Barcelona's arrival at Les Corts heralded sporting success with side winning the Campionat de Catalunya for five seasons consecutively from 1924-25 to 1927-28 as well as the Copa de España in 1924-25, 1925-26 and 1927-28.

The historic decade was crowned by winning the very first Liga title in the history of Spanish football in 1929-29.

The importantance of Les Corts was recognised early on and the ground was chosen to host the final of the Copa de España on May 13th 1923 in which Athletic Club de Bilbao beat C.E. Europa 2-1.

Difficult Years

FC Barcelona continued being a symbol of Catalan resistance to central government, particularly during Spain's first 20th century military dictatorship under Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923-1930).

These were difficult times for any expression of Catalanism and on June 14th 1925, the Camp de Les Corts was the scene of an event that has gone down in the history of the club.

The club had organised a match against C.E. Júpiter in honour of the Orfeó Català choir, which initially the authorities had refused to allow so when the game was finally given the go ahead, the Catalanist pride of many of the fans had been pricked.

When the big day arrived, a band of a British Royal Navy ship, anchored in the port of Barcelona, was invited to play before the start of the game but when the band struck up the opening notes of the Spanish national anthem, the crowd at Les Corts started booing and jeering.

The confused bandleader changed tune to God Save the King and, much to the annoyance of the assembled Spanish authorities, the crowd began cheering.

The Camp de Les Corts was closed for six months, which was later reduced to three months, and FC Barcelona founder and president, Joan Gamper, was forced to resign and flee to his native Switzerland.

Gamper was only allowed to return as long as he cut all ties with the club and this combined with financial difficulty to Gamper committing suicide in 1930.

The 1930s were a difficult decade for FC Barcelona and despite players of the quality of Ventolrà, Raich, Escolà and others, financial difficulties impeded the side from winning any national titles although the team did win the Campionat de Catalunya on six occasions.

Not surprisingly, the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) made things worse, particularly when, a month after the start of the conflict in July 1936, FC Barcelona president Josep Sunyol was murdered by nationalist troops in the Sierra de Guadarrama.

To escape the war and save club finances, the team went on tour of Mexico and the United States and many players preferred to remain in exile.

On March 16th, the FC Barcelona headquarters on Carrer del Consell de Cent was bombed during an attack on Barcelona by Mussolini's Italian Air Force.

With the fall of Barcelona to Franco's troops in 1939, the regime repressed all symbols of Catalanism, including FC Barcelona, and imposed their own candidate, Enric Piñeyro, the Marquis of Asta, as president of the club in 1940.

The club name was changed to Club de Fútbol Barcelona and the four red and yellow stripes of the Catalan flag on the crest were changed to resemble the Spanish flag.

In the 1941-42 season CF Barcelona was almost relegated but saved the season by winning the Copa de España, renamed the Copa del Generalísimo, by beating Athletic Club 4-3.

Les Cinc Copes and Closure

Little by little, the club was able to get back on its feet and won La Liga in 1944-45, 1947-48 and 1948-49 as well as the Copa Latina against Sporting Lisbon in 1949.

With players of the calibre of César, Basora, Velasco, Curta, the Gonzalvo brothers, Seguer, Biosca and Ramallets, the Barça team of the period had few rivals and for the 50th anniversary of the club, the Catalan flag was finally returned to the crest.

Signed by President Agustí Montal i Galobart on Josep Samitier's recommendation, the arrival of Ladislau Kubala at CF Barcelona is a story in itself.

Between 1951 and 1953, CF Barcelona won all the Spanish titles possible - La Liga in 1951-52 and 1952-53 and the Copa del Generalísimo in 1951, 1952 and 1953.

Furthermore, in 1952-53, a Barça team featuring Basora, César, Kubala, Moreno and Manchón also the Copa Latina against AC Milan, the Copa Eva Duarte and the Copa Martini & Rossi and the legendary team became known as the Barça de les Cinc Copes or the Barça of the Five Cups.

It is also worth remembering that even at the height of their succes, Barça remained a symbol of Catalanism and anti-Francoist resistance.

On March 4th 1951, during the first week of the tram strike, after a game at the Camp de Les Corts against Racing Santander, which Barça had won 2-1 in the pouring rain, the authorities expected the fans to break the boycott and catch the trams into town.

Police looked on in amazement as the whole crowd walked past the line of trams and made their way, wet and bedraggled, into the centre of Barcelona on foot.

Despite the increase in capacity to 60,000 spectators, CF Barcelona was outgrowing the Camp de Les Corts and on November 14th 1950, club president Augustí Montal was able to get the option to acquire some land at the far end of Travessera de Les Corts close to the cemetery and the Maternitat hospital.

Bear in mind that Real Madrid had opened their new stadium, which would later become known as the Santiago Bernabéu, in 1947.

The actual purchase of the land had to wait three years and work on what would become Camp Nou didn't begin until March 28th 1954, when a procession of 60,000 people led by president Francesc Miró-Sans walked from the Camp de Les Corts to witness the laying of the first stone of the new stadium.

During the Festes de la Mercè on September 24th 1957, the Miró-Sans board opened Camp Nou with an initial capacity of 90,000 and the Camp de les Corts was closed.

The ground was finally demolished in February 1966 and in its place are flats and the Parc de les Corts.

Video of  Opening of Camp de Les Corts

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