Still in Portugal, we went from Braga to the lovely Matosinhos. Matosinhos is a part of the Porto district and there was a beauty waiting for our visit. Leixoes SC plays in the Estadio do Mar, a stadium in complete redevelopment at the moment.
The Herois do Mar (Heroes of the See) started their activities in 1907 already. This makes them one of the oldest clubs on Portuguese soil. Besides football they also embraced other sports activities, which was very common back in the days, but still is the case right now. The Portuguese football league in those first few years however wasn't organised as it is right now though.
Slowly but surely it all built up and in 1939 the Herois do Mar achieved promotion to the first division for the very first time. Only for one season though. In 1942 they added a year, but afterwards they had to wait until 1959 to be back in full force. Leixoes had won the league in that second division multiple times in between, but every time they lost out in the play offs for promotion. After the promotion in 1959, the absolute golden years started for Os Bebes (The Babies).
In 1961 the club won the Portuguese cup and was allowed to play in the European leagues. Afterwards the result remained of a high level. A fifth place in 1965 was their best result in the competition ever. They also managed to reach the quarter and semi finals in the cup multiple times, but unfortunately no trophies were added. Those successes did stimulate the team to build a brand new stadium. In 1964 their Estadio do Mar was officially inaugurated.
But as of the 70s, the Heroes of the See gradually faded away. In 1977 Leixoes had to face the hard reality and relegated back to the second division. For a very long time they had to defend their honour there. 1988 was a short exception, when they promoted back to the first division for one year. But what happened in 2002 was truly exceptional. Being in second division, Os Bebes reached the finals of the Portuguese cup again. And even though they lost that final, it did give them a spot in European football again.
It apparently gave them wings, because in 2007 Leixoes managed to promote back to the first division. Three years later it became a return ticket to the second division and that's where they still play to this day. The stadium itself is being redeveloped heavily these days. Mainly to accommodate the needs of modern football. And maybe, who knows, to host first division again in the future. We were just in time to catch a glimpse of the glorious stadium that hosted European football the oldschool way.
If you want to enjoy our articles in Dutch, you can read them here.