On the well trodden path of tourist destinations Mallorca is high up on the list of the average holidaymaker.
Mallorca (or Majorca) in the Balearic Islands sits in the perfect location; adrift in the middle of the sun kissed Mediterranean. Amongst its attractions you can take your pick from beach resorts, rocky jagged cliff faces as well as a chance to visit Roman and Moorish remains. The islands are less than an hour from the Spanish mainland coast and sit adjacent to the neighbouring islands of Menorca, Formentera and Ibiza.
While the Romans managed to conquer the Balearic Islands in 123 BC the second conquest of Mallorca occured in 1999 at Villa Park.
Villa Park – 1999
The capital of the island is Palma de Mallorca and the resident football team are best known for a spectacular adventure to the 1999 UEFA Cup Winners Cup Final. A star studded side defeated Chelsea in a tense semi-final at the Lluis Sitjar Stadium by that time a crumbling ancient relic.
The goals of Dani brought the islanders close to a win over Lazio at the Villa Park final only for the Czech great Nedved to crush Spanish hopes.
In truth the loss to Lazio was a hammer blow but it was in effect simply the start of a rollercoaster era for the club. The Copa Del Rey was won in 2003 thanks to Pandiani and Samual Eto’o. Ahead the club held its own in La Liga yearly and great players and coaches came and went from the island club.
Bad times however, followed for the vermillions as is so often the case.
Mallorca – A Pocket History
RCD Mallorca are no strangers to trauma. Born under the name Sociedad Alfonso XIII Foot-Ball Club the club played its early football at another ground the Campo de Bon Aires close to the Luis Sitjar.
Early years came as part of the Catalan Football Federation and royal patronage was attained via King Alfonso XIII. With the incoming on the Republican regime in the 1930’s the royal title went and the team become Club Deportivo Mallorca. The CD Mallorca title can be seen on the club emblem at the ground today as well as the heraldic bat of the Crown of Aragon (Corona de Aragón).
The move to the Campo Lluis Sitjar came after the Second World War ended but at that time it was called Camp d’Es Forti before being renamed Camp Lluis Sitjar in honour of the club president.
Over the years the stadium has been extended and redeveloped with a moat added internally. In the 1980’s a fan disaster occured when seating collapsed and further structural faults were identified. In response the RFEF (Spanish FA) ordered Mallorca to play games in Barcelona and then Alicante until changes were made to the stadium.
While that 1998-99 season was the greatest in the clubs history it also saw the end of first-team football at the Estadi Lluis Sitjar. The Lluis Sitjar continued to host reserve team football until even that became impossible and the club moved its operations to the training ground.
In 1999 Palma de Mallorca was host to the 1999 Summer Universiade and a new stadium was built in the north of the city – Son Moix; a stadia now called the Visit Mallorca Stadium.
With the Luis Sitjar in serious decline and hemmed in by residential housing as well as cramped side streets, the home of the club had been a witness to the club’s greatest ever night against Chelsea but a club decision to move was made.
By the time Mallorca were relegated in 2013 the historic stadium had now become an eyesore in a city where many came for sightseeing. In contrast to the modern design and all be it multi sport feel of the Son Moix it was out of date and not fit for purpose. But to many Mallorca fans the new stadium was not a true football stadium. Despite it being used as a home by the Spanish national football team it lacked the intensity of the Campo Luis Sitjar.
Eventually the Luis Sitjar was destoryed and bulldozed after being left for years to become an overgrown relic and a base for the homeless (both human and animal kingdom – cats, dogs, rats and insects thanks to the overgrown grass).
The demolition of the Luis Sitjar meanwhile mirrored the decline of the football team.
Despite new owners from the US, RCD Mallorca fell into the third tier of Spanish football in 2017 but a flightback has ensued with successive promotions seeing the club back in the top tier of Spanish football.
Today in Mallorca the remains of anicent history are scattered around the island. Pollentia, founded in the 123 BC, sits in a strategic location between island bays and was the most important city in the Balearics duing the Roman period.
In 2022 the echo of more modern history also exists.
The walled remains of Campo Lluis Sitjar still stand despite the local municipal decision to demolish the stadium. The outer wall facades still stand with important signage retained. A gaze inside meanwhile still offers fans the opportunity to see where football was once played in what was once one of Spanish football’s most passionate venues.