Yes yes yes, summer is coming. This also means the European competitions are approaching their absolute climaxes. But Pitchd wouldn't be Pitchd if we didn't surpass that and went ahead to look for those special cases - those curiosities and forgotten areas. For that we went to Portugal.
We start our Portuguese tour in Braga. And whenever Braga is mentioned, automatically Sporting Clube de Braga will be brought up. Little over a century ago this team was created and went through a lot of emotions ever since. A lot of highs, but there have been some lows as well. More often than they would like themselves, they have to let go of the Top3 in Portugal. But that doesn't mean SC Braga isn't trying to catch up with them at all.
SC Braga's first appearance in the Portuguese first division was in 1947 after they had won the league in the second division. Slowly but surely they became stronger and even though they had to fight their battles in the second division again every so often, they managed to get European games as well since the 60s. In 1967 and 1967 SC Braga reached the semifinals in the Portuguese Cup and in between they managed to bring the Cup home.
Shortly after, SC Braga had some successes in the League Cup as well, but again they had to be content with some second division football. The golden years would finally start in the new millennium though. Since 2000, SC Braga reached the semifinals in the Portuguese Cup five times, once they were the losing finalist and twice they won the Cup. Also in the League Cup we see more or less the same numbers. Four times semifinals, twice losing finalist and twice winner. In 2009 they even won the former Intertoto Cup and every once in a while they managed to break the monopoly of the Top3. But winning a championship hasn't happened yet. Still this is very impressive if you realise their board consists of their own socio's, so basically the fans rule the team. SC Braga deserves extra credit for that.
You could say their Estadio Municipal de Braga has brought them a lot of fortune. They've been playing there since 2003 and it was built especially for Euro 2004 which was held in Portugal. Before that, SC Braga called the Estadio 1° de Maio its home for 53 years. After having to move around and renting quite some places, the Estadio 1° de Maio (better known as Estadio 28 de Maio - according to the 28 May Revolution - between 1950 and 1974) was their first real homeground. That's where SC Braga had its first successes in the sixties. But as the years went by, decay was taking over more and more. It didn't hold back the Portuguese FA though from hosting the national team there every once in a while up until 2003.
Since 2003 this has become the homeground of SC Braga B, avoiding it to become a lost ground. And how happy we are for this! Because this is an absolute gem of a stadium. These types of stadiums are being demolished more and more, but Braga proves this can be handled in a proper way as well. Should you ever visit Braga; their Estadio Municipal is impressive, but it pales when compared to this...
If you want to enjoy our articles in Dutch, you can read them here.