El Centrocampista

The rise from the wilderness for Elche FC

Bar a collapse of huge proportions, Elche will be playing La Liga football next season. You might be thinking, who? Well you’re right, the club haven’t played in the top flight of the Spanish domestic leagues for a very long time, 24 years to be precise. This term though, under Fran Escribá the agonising wait could finally be over for the fans of the Valencian club.

They have been close in recent years, piped to promotion in the 11/12 season by Granada after they secured a playoff spot. Apart from that, they have had nothing to shout about in recent years. The club suffered humiliation during the early nineties when they dropped into the regional leagues of la Segunda B for the first time in their history, and subsequently teetered on the verge of financial collapse for much of the decade.

They have built their success this season on pretty much immaculate home form, the Franjiverdes have only lost once at home in 17 matches, winning 14 of these. Estadio Martinez Valero really does warrant the term ‘fortress’. Only losing 5 games in 35, this has seen them take the favourites tag for promotion early on in the season and they have built a pretty much unassailable lead at the top of Segunda.

Credit has to go to the board and manager Escribá for their clever signings in the last summer window; they lost arguably their best two players Nikki Belle and Angel to Rosenborg & Levante respectively. A massive blow for them, they relied heavily on the performances of these two players last term.

Relying on the goals of the two players last season saw them struggle and they finished in a mid-table position, the difference this season? Well, they have had 10 different goal scorers, and they have been scoring from all over the park. Elche not necessarily stylish and spectacular, more workmen like in their approach has really benefited their season. Not giving much away has really been their strength and they have conceded by the far the lowest amount of goals in the division.

The signings of Ferrán ‘Coro’ Corominas, Edu Albacar and Fidel have helped them mix experience and youth in the squad and they have found a real formula this season. The summer transition was just what the club needed, other fresh faces were added and it has transformed their fortunes this term.

The club has a great history and fans are itching to experience top level football again, they have been there before, in what many call the golden era. The Ilicitanos spent 17 consecutive years in the top flight and in this time they reached their only ever Copa del Rey final, losing out to Athletic Bilbao.

Elche started to suffer great financial difficulties caused by their desperate desire to repeat the glory of the 60’s and 70’s. Elche is a big city, the capacity of their stadium is 38,000 so the expectation was always going to be there. This season they look to have conquered the burden of big boys and are on the verge of creating a new chapter in the 90 year history of the club.

It’s an exciting time for everyone associated with the club and all eyes will be on them when they finally cross that finish line.

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