The slow return to the top
After a stormy campaign, with three Presidents and three managers, Celta began a new season in Second Division B. When everyone believed that you could not fall lower, Celta was condemned to ‘hell’ in minor categories. Thus, the 1980-1981 season was a succession of trips and excursions all over Galicia, playing against other teams which had also experienced the bitterness of relegation.
Milorad Pavic arrives in Vigo
The first thing the Club did was rebuild the squad. Some new players were signed, and others were traded or dismissed. Along those leaving was Pedrito, the manager, who was substituted by Milorad Pavic.
Pavic arrived at Vigo, but the club had to convince him to take charge of the team, since the manager wrongly believed that the team was in the second Division A. In any case, in the end he stayed, and brought his physical trainer with him, Vorgic. The Vigo club achieved promotion to Second Division at the end of that season.
1980-1990 One step higher
The Vigo squad started the 1981-82 with good vibrations after promoting, coming from a great season in Second Division B. Nevertheless, it was time take a new step forward, go one step higher to achieve one clear objective: return to First Division in Liga.
Celta started that season with a debt of more than 200 million pesetas. However, some very needed players were signed and Pavic was still managing to the team. The season was successful for Celta, which clinched promotion to First Division with three league matches left until the end of the season. That year the club’s new statutes were approved and, for the first time, advertising was included on the team’s jerseys.
At the end of the season, the makeover of the Grada de Rio stands in Balaidos concluded. It had been demolished and replaced by a better facility, since Balaidos would host some matches of the qualifying rounds of the 82 World Cup.
After closing a season full of success, a road of hardships awaited ahead for Celta de Vigo. When everything seemed to be going well, things suddenly went wrong. The team promoted to First Division, but the joy would last only one season. At the end of the summer, Celta said farewell to one of its most exemplary players; Manolo the ‘Great Captain’, whose physical problems made it impossible for him to keep on playing at the highest level.
Scandalous relegation in Valladolid
The 1982-83 season started badly and ended worse. From the beginning of the season, Celta was last in the league, and the debt was so big that there were several pending seizures. The up to then president D. Elias Alonso Riego resigned, and a few hours later Jose Luis Rivadulla was named new president of the sky-blue institution with the purpose putting the team back on the right track. Strictly football issues aside, Celta took an important step forward acquiring 60,000 square meters of land in A Madroa, where one the best sports facilities in the league would be built.
Celta had one more match to go in Liga. It was its last chance to avoid relegation against Valladolid. The match was tense and, ultimately, Valladolid had no mercy. Celta was relegated again to Second Division. The fans who had travelled to Valladolid, those who had stayed in Vigo, and the Club’s executives cried bitterly that night. Many could not forgive the team’s attitude in that decisive moment. This chapter of Celta’s history opened many wounds and the Board fined the 13 players who had lost that match.
More problems inside and outside the pitch
83-84 season. In sporting matters, manager Pavic left the team and was substituted by a Galician and all-time Celta supporter, Luis Cid Carriega. With 12 matches to go in the season in Second Division, Celta was in top league positions and had a good chance to promote to First Division. Inexplicably, the team suffered a slump, and lost decisive points. Manager Cid Carriega decided to resign.
First Division, despite the difficulties
The beginning of the 1984 season would become the start of a new era. The club’s goal was to return to First Division. The course of the league could not have been better for Celta, that he began adding points and stringing a 12-game streak without losing until almost the end of league. The win against Mallorca, with still two matches left to go in the competition, mathematically clinched promotion for RC Celta to First Division. People celebrated greatly, both club staff and executives as well as the fans.
1985-1986: new season, new struggles
Everything went from bad to worse, after several matches without winning, manager Felix Carnero, was dismissed at the end of the match at Cadiz, and was replaced by Garcia Traid. However, the new manager could not put the team back on track, and lost control of the dressing room. After a series of bad results, the manager was finally dismissed after Celta was thrashed at Zaragoza, where Celta lost by 6 goals to zero. After yet another relegation to Second Division, a new period of economic and sporting hardship began. Economic problems and the lack of social support undermined the team.
Overcoming the crisis and a new promotion
This season there were changes in the competition. It was decided that the 12 top teams would be divided into two groups to fight for promotion to First Division, so the first of each group would promote automatically as well as the best second of both groups considering the points earned in the regular season and in that 12-team competition. The rest would play a play-off tournament. Celta took part in that promotion play-off, signed Irish Jimmy Hagan for such cause, as well as Fernando Barboza, ceded by the Nacional de Montevideo, after Lucas suffered an unexpected injury.
Finally, Celta promoted by defeating Deportivo Coruna twice, its biggest rival, and also Malaga, Rayo, Castellon and Sestao. Promotion was accomplished in Sestao, against the team then led by Javier Irureta. Many fans still remember that day, since more than 1,000 celtistas hopped on a train (“The train of hope or of Promotion”) to accompany the team in those critical moments.
Annus horribilis for Celta
The 1988-89 season is remembered because of two tragical events. In an interval of two months, two sorrowful tragedies that will be forever etched in the history of the club occurred: the accident that sidelined Alvelo, a young Celta footballer, in a wheelchair, after an unfortunate accident and the murder of the General Manager of the RC Celta, “Quinocho”. It was a year of misfortune, but not at a sporting level, since the team had fairly good results.