Cádiz: The Other Yellow Submarine

Everyone knows about Villarreal, the ‘Yellow Submarine’ that has won the Europa League and seen the likes of Diego Forlán, Juan Román Riquelme and Santi Cazorla don their kit, but few know that there is another La Liga team whose nickname is ‘Yellow Submarine.’


On September 8, 1910, Cádiz CF defeated Cádiz Sporting Club 1-0 in the first documented game of the club. Two days later, citizens of the city made a request to their local government for the founding of a football club. José Rivera e Lora was amongst them, and he would become the club’s first chairperson.


The team survived the tumultuous first quarter of the 20th century and overcame the difficulties of the Spanish Civil War. The next thirty or so years would be spent in the second and third tiers until at the end of the 1976-77 season, when Cádiz achieved promotion to the first division for the first time. They would be relegated the following season, but would come back in 1981.


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Before returning to La Liga in 1981, Cádiz won its first Ramón de Carranza Trophy. This trophy is considered amongst the most prestigious pre-season tournaments in Spain and features local teams and other clubs invited from all over the world. It is organized by the Cádiz city council and Cádiz CF has won nine trophies so far.


In 1982, Cádiz signed Jorge Alberto González Barillas — nicknamed ‘El Mágico’ or ‘The Magical One’ — from Salvadoran side FAS. Mágico quickly became a fan favorite thanks to his dazzling moves and goals, finishing his first season with 14 goals in 33 games as the team achieved promotion to the top-flight. Whilst his love of the nightlife brought him notoriety, he nevertheless became vital to Cádiz before leaving for Real Valladolid in January 1985 after falling out with manager Benito Joanet.


Mágico returned one year later after playing just nine games, scoring 58 goals in 194 games until departing the club in 1991. He is not only considered the greatest player in Cádiz’s history, but the greatest player in El Salvador’s history as well, and his years at the club coincided with a run of eight consecutive seasons in the top flight.


During that time, the ‘Yellow Submarine’ nickname became commonplace, as the club seemed to regularly “sink” into the relegation spots, only to resurface at the end of the season. Relegation would finally come in 1992/93, with the club dropping down to the third division the following year. In 1995, they found themselves on the brink of extinction as the ownership stopped investing in the club and suspended its payments.


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When it seemed like Cádiz would sink into oblivion, a group of Cádiz fans led by Antonio Muñoz and Manuel García negotiated with the creditors, reorganized the club and started managing it directly from the city of Cádiz. They remained in the third tier until 2003 when they were promoted, and the following season would see them push for a return to the top-flight.


8,000 Cádiz fans traveled to neighboring Xerez on the final day of the campaign, with Cádiz winning 2-0. They finished atop the second division with 76 points, level with Celta Vigo and Deportivo Alavés and three above Eibar, but their stay in the top-flight was short-lived with the club being mathematically relegated on the penultimate day of the 2005/06 season.


Cádiz bounced around between the second and third divisions over the next decade, but things began to change on April 18, 2016 when Álvaro Cervera was appointed as manager, leading them to promotion to the second tier at the end of the season. A quote from Cervera, “La lucha no se negocia” (“The fight is non-negotiable”), was adopted by Cádiz as a club catchphrase shortly after his arrival, and this mentality provided vital in the club’s upward swing.


On September 29, 2019, Cádiz CF organized trials in Mumbai, India, giving an opportunity to more than 250 Indian students to win a scholarship to live and train in Spain. Three players were selected: Harshika Jain, Veer Gondal and Arnav Gorantala, and they began their stay in Spain in January 2020.


Cádiz weren’t just making progress off the pitch, but on it as well. Cádiz enjoyed its best start to a league campaign in 80 years and earned promotion to the top-flight, ending a 14-year absence. They finished 12th in their return to La Liga, but the following season would see them fall into a relegation battle, prompting them to sack Cervera on January 11, 2022.


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Sérgio González took the reins and led them to the Copa del Rey finals for the fourth time in their history and the first since 2006, where they would lose 2-1 to runners-up Valencia. Cádiz enjoyed an impressive end to the campaign that would see them beat Barcelona and Villarreal as well as draw to Real Madrid, with the club finishing in 17th place — one point clear of the drop — after beating Alavés 1-0 on the final day of the campaign.


Today, Cádiz find themselves in 16th place, one point above the relegation zone. They have enjoyed an impressive run of form as of late, beating Girona and Rayo Vallecano, drawing to Real Sociedad, losing to Barcelona and drawing 2-2 to Getafe. It looks set to be another daunting relegation battle, but Cádiz may just have enough in their tank to avoid the drop and float to safety.


By: Eduard Holdis / @He_Ftbl

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce / Getty Images