We’re extremely proud to bring you this special guest article on Deportivo La Coruña’s recent run of kits flying the flag for Galicia, from Coleraine’s premier roving Spanish football shirt enthusiast, Andrew Gillan.
It’s quite common for Spanish clubs to reflect their regional flags in their colours.
The yellow, red and blue of the Reial Senyera have often appeared on the away kits of Valencia and Levante. On their travels away from San Mames, Athletic Club often wear the green, white and red of the Ikurrina. In 2013 Barcelona launched their own away kit in the colours of the Senyera.
In 2014, it was Deportivo de La Coruña’s turn.
In time for their promotion back to La Liga that summer, kit suppliers Lotto released a kit quite unlike any Depor had ever worn before. A white shirt with a light blue diagonal sash as featured on the flag of Galicia.
Normally in Galician football, light blue is a colour more associated with Depor’s arch-rivals Celta Vigo (or to a much lesser extent SD Compostela) but what we now know as the Galician flag has a long history with the city of A Coruña.
The story goes that Galician emigrants heading for the Americas in the 19th century saw the naval flag of the city of Coruña flying on ships docked in the port and believed it to be the Galician flag. So when they arrived in the new world, they flew this flag to illustrate their Galician heritage.
Word of this travelled back across the Atlantic and when an official Galician flag was adopted in the 20th century, the design was chosen as the background of a new standard incorporating the traditional coat of arms of the Kingdom of Galicia.
Unsurprisingly the kit was a massive hit with Depor’s supporters. I lived in Galicia at the time and regularly went to games at the Estadio Riazor and the away shirt was almost permanently out of stock in the club shop.
Its status as a cult hit was further underlined by it being worn on the day Deportivo pulled off a great escape from relegation in 2015, coming from two goals down to draw with Barcelona at the Camp Nou on the final day of the season.
Realising they were onto a good thing, Lotto continued to produce variations on the design over the next few years, but in 2018 Macron, who had taken over as Depor’s kit supplier the previous year, really took things to the next level.
They had already shown themselves to be keen to incorporate elements from the city’s culture and heritage into their designs. Each of the three kits for the 2018/19 season paid tribute to a special date in the Galician calendar.
The home kit, with its retro granddad collar, represented 8th December – the day in 1906 when Deportivo played their first match. The red away kit represented San Juan, the night of 23rd-24th June, when the city is lit up with bonfires. And the third kit continued the tradition of the Galician flag design by appropriately enough representing 17th May, the Día de las letras Gallegas, the day celebrating the Galician language.
What truly makes this kit special is how the sash is composed of the words of Os Pinos (the Pines), the Galician anthem. One of the great sights in Spanish football is when Depor and Celta fans come together to sing the song before derby matches at the Riazor and Balaidos.
Sadly Depor never got to wear this magnificent shirt in a derby match as due to their relegation in 2018, they were playing in the Segunda division. The shirt was a massive success though and once again sold out (much to the disappointment of anyone like myself who was hoping to pick up one on the cheap in the end of season sale), which probably influenced the decision to release a slightly altered version for the 2019/20 season as Depor once again seek to climb out of the Segunda.
With Macron making the extremely controversial decision to break with over a century of tradition and swap the blue and white stripes of the home kit for hoops for the coming season, and the decidedly mixed reaction from supporters in A Coruña; the latest version of the Galician flag kit will be welcomed as a dose of continuity.
My blog on all things to do with football and travel can be found at https://misviajesenfutbol.com and I’m on twitter @andrewgillan (personal account) or @viajesenfutbol (for the blog)