Struggling to return to the top
The 1930-1931 season began with high expectations. The opening match in Third Division faced Celta and Stadium of Aviles, which suffered an 11-3 thrashing, and from then on, the team won almost all their matches. Celta also played a noteworthy role in another competition they took part in: they were the Galician runners-up. Celta would end up being Third Division champion (Group I), which enabled the team to participate in the Champion’s phase and qualify for promotion to Second Division.
The first opponent which faced Celta in the promotional tournament to the Second Division was Baracaldo, and after both legs the results were 0-0 and 1-1. The Football Federation arranges for a third match to be played on a neutral field, and which would take place in Madrid, where Celta won by 3 goals to 2, in a nerve-wrecking match which went into extra-time. But Celta still had to overcome a final obstacle: Recreativo de Huelva. The first leg match was played at Balaidos and the result was 4 – 0, while the second leg match ended with a 3-0 score in favor of the Andalusian team.
New division, new manager
The 1931-1932 began with the change of manager. Jose Planas took control of the team which again would go on to win the regional tournament. Before the league started, Celta signed Argentine striker Seijas, transferred from Chacaritas, and the team trained hard to play against Betis, Oviedo, Gijon, Atletico Madrid, Murcia, Sevilla, Castellon, Coruña and Catalonia. The bad results made them finish the league in last place, with only ten points, and barely avoided relegation (in that season the last team in the rankings was the one who relegated, in this case Catalonia).
The season also left an excellent participation of RC Celta in the Campeonato de España. The team reached the semi-finals, in which it faced Barcelona. The results (3-0 and 2-1) knocked the team out from this tournament.
Nolete, the arrival of a new idol
The 1932-1933 season begins with a new manager on the bench for Celta, Jose Maria Peña, which on many occasions would also play matches as a member of the squad. Celta’s season was not good, avoiding relegation by a whisker.
In that season Manuel Copena Araujo ‘Nolete’ was signed from Eirina of Pontevedra. This striker was immediately a fan favorite in Vigo. Unmistakable in the field, with his white bandana covering his head, he was a heavy built man who defended Celta’s jersey until 1943, scoring 96 goals during his time in the team.
Unjustly discriminated again
The team obtained excellent results in the 34/35 season. Celta finished the League in fourth-place and had chances of promotion to First Division, since the idea was to expand the number of clubs in First. The Club General Assembly held a meeting in Madrid in May and the sky-blue delegation attended with high hopes of taking the team back to First Division, but to great surprise the team designated for promotion was the one that finished eighth; Irun.
A dream comes true
Celta achieved a historic feat in the 1935-1936 season. After the difficulties that the club had gone through, the team started the new season with strong will and enthusiasm. An effort that would finally be rewarded with the best possible prize: promotion to First Division. While the team began on the wrong foot (lost 5-1 against National), the following results strengthened the spectacular progression of the team. Celta held the first position in the Second Division, tied with Zaragoza, but with a favorable goal average. The Vigo team went to play the promotion stage, in which it would also be the best. Finally, the dream was fulfilled! Celta was already in the First Division after years of struggle and injustice.
Real Club Celta received numerous congratulations those days. For example, Real Madrid sent a telegram, which alluded to the ongoing struggles of the club to achieve what by justice belonged to them. Deportivo de La Coruña, also wanted to congratulate its rival and sent a telegram that read: “Our most sincere and kind congratulations on your brilliant triumph achieved for Galician football. Celta Hurray!”.
The Spanish civil war: from footballers to soldiers
Unfortunately, there was not much time for celebrations, since the year 1936 brought along a terrible reality: the Spanish civil war. Because of the conflict many football players, like the rest of men from other professions, were mobilized and incorporated into combat units, paralyzing the football activity.
It was precisely that inactivity made Celta board members managers seek an alternative solution (such as friendly tournaments) to avoid apathy among fans. They were hard times, and during those war years the number of RC Celta club members went from 1200 to just 203. Between 1936 and 1939 (a team of young homegrown players) Celta would play some tournaments of a symbolic nature, which would be useful to keep the spirit of the fans alive after promotion to First Division.
The debut in First Division
The 1939-1940 season, which restarted the league competition after the hiatus of the war, began full of enthusiasm for Celta and a clear objective: avoid relegation. The sky-blue club had a new board with Pedro Brana Merino as presiedent, and a new manager, Comesaña.
The start of the season was characterized by economic difficulties: club members who had quit paying their fees during the war and the hiatus in the competition put the team against the ropes. Celta made its debut in First Division facing the also newly promoted Zaragoza. The team from Aragon won by 3 goals to 2. The following three matches were three straight defeats for Celta, who obtained its first win in First Division on December 31, 1939 against Sevilla. It was an intense match, in which the team from Vigo won by 4 goals to 1 and where Samson made his debut for Celta, at the very young age of 15.
Real Club Celta had to confront its eternal rival Deportivo de A Coruña, in promotion match to avoid relegation. The match was played on May 15, 1940, in the field of Chamartín, as decided by the Spanish Football Federation. Celta’s starting line-up was Alberty, Cons, Varela, Alvarito, Chicha, Nolete, Fuentes, Venancio, Piñeiro, Toro and Agustin; in a match refereed by Pedro Escarpin. The news chronicles of the time reported that it was a vibrant and exciting match because neither Deportivo Coruña nor Celta refused to lose a spot in Spanish First Division. When everyone already expected the match to go into extra-time, Nolete’s goal opened the door to salvation. Celta took away the win by 1 – 0 and was saved.