5WF Crest of the Week: Real Sociedad, King Alfonso XIII’s holiday home

Welcome to a weekly feature on 5WFootball, where we will look at some of the best crests in football. When you think of past teams, the first thought may well be the players, but secondary, the thought turns to the identity: the kit, the crest, the stadium, the fans. The emblem, like many elements in football, is rather cliché like – yes, some look nice, but nobody really knows what they mean. They are the symbol for the passion shared between fans and teams. This weekly feature celebrates the best, from all over the world. Welcome to week 5: Real Sociedad.

Unlike last weeks edition of ‘COTW’ with Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente and their hairless dog, this weeks features a more instantly recognisable crest: Real Sociedad. Despite this, like a few of the others covered in the early weeks of this series, few people actually know the origins and meaning behind Real Sociedad’s football with the crown, covered by a blue and white flag.

Founded in 1908 as one of the founding members of La Liga, the club were given royal patronage two years later as the city of San Sebastián was home to the summer residence of the monarch. King Alfonso XIII granted the location his royal warrant, meaning they could be named Real Sociedad, or ‘Royal Society of Football’.

This was reflected in the clubs first logo, which the only difference from the current one (seen above) is the SS was a different font – SS obviously standing for San Sebastián. The crown above the golden football is evidently a nod to the royal foundations behind the club. The blue and white is emblematic of the city flag.

Due to the Civil War, King Alfonso XIII was forced to leave the country due to political unrest. The club was renamed as Donostia Club de Fútbol – Donostia being the Basque name for San Sebastián. 57 years later, the crown returned, due to the end of the Spanish Civil War.

Sociedad’s best ever period came in the 1980’s, where the club managed two consecutive league titles. Between April 1979 and May 1980, Real Sociedad put together a record 38 game unbeaten run and this is a domestic record that neither of the big two in Spain can lay a claim for. Their rise to force was thanks to club legend Antoni Elizondo who assembled a young and hungry side full of Basque players, that a superb scouting team had nurtured from around the Guipúzcoa province.

In fact, until 1989, Sociedad held the same policy as their Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao which stipulated they could only sign Basque players. Evidently, it helped them win back-to-back titles in the early 80’s, but the club realised that the better supported club from the bigger city with greater finances – Bilbao – had more pulling power. Therefore, they missed out on some key talents to their rivals, and they had little option but to ditch the policy. Their first non-Basque signing was (and this is a great trivia question) John Aldridge from Liverpool.

In recent history, Sociedad haven’t had the same successes they did in the eighties, but they still have nurtured some notable names, such as Xabi Alonso and Antoine Griezmann. The former was made team captain at the tender age of 20, and guided the team away from relegation in an intense battle for safety.

The San Sebastián club may not have the history of some of Spain’s greatest clubs, or even the Basque regions greatest clubs, but they do have an emblem that is globally recognised and has a strong meaning.

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