A Celta-Deportivo at the top
At the end of the 40-41 season, Celta played the Copa del Generalisimo, a competition in which it would make history. After eliminating Deportivo, Real Madrid and Oviedo, the team reached semifinals, falling against Valencia on a 6 goals to 1 aggregate. Despite the defeat, the sky-blues wrote a chapter in its history book, after having gone so far in such a hard competition.
In the 41-42 season RC Celta started the season exceptionally well, remaining unbeaten in the first 8 matches, and among them, the first derby ever played in First Division. 20,000 fans from many different parts of Galicia gathered at Balaidos on October 19th, 1941, to watch Celta-Deportivo. The match was full of emotion and sportsmanship, both on the pitch and in the stands. The sky-blues won 2-1, with two goals by Augustine (Celta) and Chacho (Deportivo).
Back to the Second Division ‘inferno’
After a disastrous preseason, Celta began the 43-44 season with some new players. Especially noticeable was the signing of one the players that would later became part of Celta’s history: a very young Pahiño. As usual, the team was going through economic difficulties. Nevertheless, the collaboration and effort of the fans helped save Real Celta Club of Vigo once again.
In sports terms, that season was undoubtedly one of the worst in Celta history. The team only managed to win two games and spent 23 days in the last position of the leaderboard, place where it ended up when the season finished. Celta finished the season with only 9 points and was condemned to the Second Division inferno, a place which Celta had so often tried to escape from. In economic terms, the board decided to put their positions at the disposal of the club’s members, but no one wanted to take command of Celta. Finally, Luis Iglesias Fernández took the initiative and formed a new board. Ahead was a major challenge… getting back to First Division.
Short stay in Second Division
The 1944-45 season began with renewed strength for the sky-blues in which, despite relegating after a disastrous season, the team did not surrender and faced the challenge of returning to where it’s supposed to be, First Division. The preseason began with an emotional tribute match for journalist and great benefactor of Celta, Manuel de Castro González, aka “Handicap”, who had lost his life in a tragic accident in August that year (1944). The match was Celta-Deportivo, and it was a homage from all Galician sports to the unforgettable journalist. Celta won 4-2.
Second Division play began in September. Matches went by and Celta achieved very satisfactory results, finishing the season in third place, and with promotion chances. After facing Granada in a promotion match in Madrid, Celta returned to First Division glory. It was an unforgettable day in which the players received the affection and a homage from all the peoples of Vigo and Galicia when they returned home. The fans were very proud of the 4-1 victory.
Acquisition of Balaidos and transfer to the City Council
In July 1945 the Mayor of Vigo, Luis Suarez Llanos Penacho, announced the acquisition of the Balaidos Stadium by Celta. After intense negotiations, Stadium company sold Balaidos, an operation which could not have been carried out if it wasn’t for the loan that Caja de Ahorros Municipal de Vigo granted Real Club Celta.
The terms of the agreement established that the club acquired the stadium, as well as several surrounding lands, totaling 30.600 square meters. The seller company established that the value of the property was of 856,000 pesetas, a grant that the City Council committed to pay to Caja in annual instalments of 70,000 pesetas, and that would be paid off in a maximum of 20 years.
Under the agreement, Celta transferred the stadium to the City Council and retained the usufruct over those two decades. It was also established that the enlargement and improvement works would be carried out by the municipal entity. A few days after the news came out, Molins and Prieto architects began to design a project for the construction of a set of covered stands, a canopy in Rio and cement stand in Marcador.
The ‘rebels’: Pahiño and Roig
Within days of starting the 47-48 season a ‘news bomb’ went off at the sky-blue club and among the fans. Because of attitude dsiplayed by players Pahiño, Roig and Alonso, the Board of Directors decided to declare them “in contempt”, a stance from which Alonso desisted from a few days later.
In the case of Pahiño and Roig, the situation was very tense, since the Board considered inadmissible their financial claims. According to the sky-blue executives, the sky-blue footballers (who had refused to sign their season licenses) asked for a much higher amount of money than previously stipulated, so the board considered that such claims violated the agreements that had been reached.
Finally, the players had no choice but to respect the agreements and join the team, However, they never stopped complaining, stating that situation was miserable and that they were paid a lot less than other players. In any case, a new season began, the 47-48, which would be historic for Real Celta Club of Vigo. That season marked the teams 25th anniversary.
25th anniversary celebrations
Another league championship began, and after the Pahiño and Roig case was settled, Celta advanced through the league playing some memorable matches, like Celta-Real Madrid in which -for the first time in history- Balaidos was fully packed. Celta de Vigo won by 4 goals to 1.
The league ended in March of the year 48 at Celta’s field in the middle of a big celebration party. Celta had put an end to a historic season by finishing in fourth place in league, 6 points behind the leader (Barcelona). Celta won 14 matches, 3 draws and 9 defeats, and in addition forward Pahiño, having scored 21 goals in league, obtained the top scorer trophy.
First Cup final
As a finishing touch to a magnificent season, Celta reached a Cup final for the first time in history. After eliminating Ferrol, Celta would face Atletico de Madrid in the semi-finals, a hard rival to knock out. In fact, they had to play three matches to reach the tiebreaker. Having overcome obstacles in both sports and economic terms, Celta reached the final of the Copa del Generalisimo.
The match was played in Chamartin, attended by Franco, against Sevilla. Thousands of Galician fans cheered Celta on, but finally it could not be. The first half ended with a 1-1 draw, but in the second half, the team from Vigo was left without three injured players and Pahiño, booked with a red card. The result was 4-1 in favor of Sevilla.