Saturday, 24 July 2010

Varzim SC (Portugal)

Varzim Sport Club are based in Póvoa de Varzim - a medium-sized city in the very north west of Portugal. It once had the biggest fish market in the north of the country, but these days it is better known for tourism, lured by its many miles of long, sandy beaches. Indeed, Varzim's ground is only a few short yards from the beach - so close in fact that a stray shot could very easily end up in the sea. This is undoubtedly how they acquired their nickname - The Sea Devils.

Formed on Christmas Day in 1915, their home is the breezy 11,000 capacity Estádio do Varzim Sport Club. Currently part of the Portuguese second level, the Liga de Honra, they have spend a full 21 seasons in their country's top flight, the last time in 2002-03 when ironically the made the quarter finals of the Portuguese Cup - their best performance in living memory.The club have a rather edifying policy whereby 70% of the team have to come from their youth ranks. Notable former players to have come through the junior set up include Portuguese internationals Bruno Alves, Hélder Postiga and Rui Barros, and the Chelsea fringe keeper Henrique Hilário also put in a stint between the Varzim sticks.

The club are perhaps best known though for a rows about the future of its ground. Its seaside location has meant that it has become a target for property developers, and Varzim have been offer €30m for the land alone. Selling up would have given the club enough money to pay off its debts and built a nice new ground at the site on the city's existing municipal stadium on the other side of town, with money left over for a couple of new players. But the local mayor decided he didn't like the idea, and the club are currently embroiled in a right old political hoo-hah. So if you ever find yourself in the area, make sure you pay a visit to their beautiful old ground while you still can - and don't forget to take a bucket and spade!

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