The treasures of Mestalla

With this report, AS closes the series of 10 episodes on the occasion of the centenary of Mestalla, which have been published cEvery day at 4:00 p.m., which is when the ball started rolling in Mestalla for the first time on May 20, 1923.

EPISODE 1 (The first day of Mestalla) // EPISODE 2 (The town of Mestalla) // EPISODE 3 (Mestalla, door to Spain of the soccer gods) // EPISODE 4 (Mestalla, the home of the National Team) // EPISODE 5 (My neighbor is Mestalla) // EPISODE 6 (The respect of Mestalla) // EPISODE 7 (Mestalla is a woman’s name) // EPISODE 8 (Botellón in Mestalla) // EPISODE 9 (Alarms in Mestalla) // EPISODE 10 (The treasures of Mestalla)

Mestalla is centenary. On May 20, 1923, with a Valencia-Levante match and a goal from Montes, the longest-running Primera stadium was inaugurated. Mestalla is the home of Valencia, it was the home of Naranjito (World Cup ’82) and Covi (Barcelona’92). Almost 3,000 matches have been played at Mestalla, including 10 Cup finals (where most outside Madrid) and 32 for the National Team (only the Bernabéu surpasses it). Pelé, Di Stéfano and Maradona made their Spanish debut at the Mestalla. Mestalla should no longer be there, because it has a demolition order and has been waiting for the moving truck for 16 years. But there it is, watching time go by.

Facade of Mestalla, with a provisional shield for the centenary of the stadium, with the bat of the Grada de la Mar in the background / Photos: David González
Facade of Mestalla, with a provisional shield for the centenary of the stadium, with the bat of the Grada de la Mar in the background / Photos: David González

Only the location remains of the original Mestalla. Below him passes the Acequia de Mestalla, which is what gives it its name. His pitch has never moved. There they have played from Cubells to Gayà, passing through Puchades, Claramunt, Kempes and Albelda. Fernando and Arias are the ones who have set foot on it the longest, as José Benet is his number 1 partner and Vicenta Navarro, his longest-standing partner.

Details of the ceramic that gives luster and identity to the VIP box at Mestalla / Photos: David González
Details of the ceramic that gives luster and identity to the VIP box at Mestalla / Photos: David González

The stadium has undergone five reforms. The Tribune, Amphitheater and its roof is its oldest part. Mestalla went through a Civil War, where tanks were parked and potatoes were planted on its lawn; the Flood of 57 flooded it and razed thousands of its cattail chairs. The manager Vicente Peris died there and the janitor Constantino lived for 40 years. Prince, Julio Iglesias performed at Mestalla and was the finish line of the Tour of Spain. Now Mestalla is left to its own devices, as a town house that falls as an inheritance to the sons of the city.

In the VIP box there is a showcase with the main titles, details of the banner of the founding flag and the founding act of Valencia from 1919 / Photos: David González
In the VIP box there is a showcase with the main titles, details of the banner of the founding flag and the founding act of Valencia from 1919 / Photos: David González

Mestalla resists for its legend, like Grandpa’s balloon house from the Disney movie. That is perhaps where his charm lies today, in his old age. In its bowels you still find advertising painted by brush with typography of ‘Tell me’ of ‘Menaje del hogar Mas Masia’ and ‘Impermeables Dugan’ or its access doors to the lockers that are the ones that existed when that room was dungeons.

Signage of advertisers that survive time and details of the doors of the ticket offices, which years ago were a dungeon, as his style identifies.  / Photos: David González
Signage of advertisers that survive time and details of the doors of the ticket offices, which years ago were a dungeon, as his style identifies. / Photos: David González

Mestalla has a box in the style of Barraca del Palmar. It was Paco Roig’s idea, without knowing that Penev would get punched on the spiral staircase that connects it with the tunnel. The ceramics are from Alzira and the toilets are indicated as those of a trinquet: Comú Dones and Homes. There Valencia has the showcase of titles, its flag and founding act. The central space is watched over by a bust of Don Luis Casanovaa man who did the club so much good and who for many years also gave the stadium its name.

Model of the reform of Mestalla for the '82 World Cup that was not completed, bust of Don Luis Casanova and plaque indicating the level reached by the water in the 1957 flood / Photos: David González
Model of the reform of Mestalla for the ’82 World Cup that was not completed, bust of Don Luis Casanova and plaque indicating the level reached by the water in the 1957 flood / Photos: David González

Below the VIP box is the chapel, with an image of the Virgen de los Desamparados that the neighbors donated and to which so much has been prayed this season for the salvation of the team. Father Elías Llagaría had the idea and the captain on duty prays in the chapel before each game. The kneelers are from the 1950s, although the altar was renovated in 2013, although the original wooden one is safely kept in a room in the stadium. At the exit of the chapel is the sign that the flood came to here and wall to wall is the Valencia locker room, where A cattail chair reminds of an immortal being.: Bernardo Españeta.

Spiral staircase that connects the changing room tunnel with the VIP box, Mestalla chapel and cattail chair in homage to Spain, located inside the team changing room / Photos: David González
Spiral staircase that connects the changing room tunnel with the VIP box, Mestalla chapel and cattail chair in homage to Spain, located inside the team changing room / Photos: David González

On the other side of the stadium, in the bowels of Grada de la Mar, where one looks from below and sees how the pillars and the cement structure of different reforms overlap, there is a magical space. The only modern thing it has is the key, the entry code type with an integrated alarm. It is not for less, because what is hidden there are treasures, an infinity of objects and archives that are each one of them the history of Valencia and Mestalla.

Training colts, a machine with which the lines of the field were painted, a Red Cross stretcher, a cattail chair with cushions from yesteryear, trophies and a plaque from the first game that Spain played in Mestalla in 1925. / Photos: David González
Training colts, a machine with which the lines of the field were painted, a Red Cross stretcher, a cattail chair with cushions from yesteryear, trophies and a plaque from the first game that Spain played in Mestalla in 1925. / Photos: David González

Felix Munozdirector of the Mestalla stadium and match coordinator, and Loles Ruizhead of the Historical Heritage Department of the Fundació VCF, open to AS the doors of the warehouse where those objects that shape the heritage of the club and the stadium are stored, restored and archived, a collection of jewels that await with the patience of those who It is known that it is eternal that one day Valencia will have a new Mestalla where they can be exhibited in a museum worthy of them.

Files with documentation, one of the first computers used by Valencia, with candles from the original altar of the changing room chapel.  / Photos: David González
Files with documentation, one of the first computers used by Valencia, with candles from the original altar of the changing room chapel. / Photos: David González

Original enera chairs, Vifesa pads that were thrown at the referees, stretchers of the red cross from the year of Concha Velasco, benches for photographers and editors from the time of Sincerator, a plaque from the first match that Spain played there in 1925 , volumes of files with day-to-day information about the club throughout its centenary history, with Waldo’s files, Wilkes’ contracts or Bonhoff’s slides. There are trophies won in the 1920s and gifts from the Far East such as a collection of ceramic geishas. And all those treasures are there, watching time go by, like Mestalla. One hundred years has turned… and the ones that remain.

Panoramic of the Grada de la Mar / Photos: David González
Panoramic of the Grada de la Mar / Photos: David González

Thanks for the preparation of the serial on the occasion of the Mestalla Centenary: VCF Foundation Heritage Department, Valencia CF Communication Department, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Athletic Bilbao Press, AS Delegations, AS Archive, Paco Lloret, Alfonso Gil, Rafa Lahuerta, Juanvi Muñoz, Eduardo Solivares, Iñaki Martín Abridales, Jordi Goçalves, former members of Gol Gran and each of the testimonies collected in its 10 chapters.

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