Saturday, September 24, 2011

The History of the Spanish football (III): 1905-1910, the years of crisis and division

Previous chapter: History of the Spanish football (II): 1900-1905, The first tournaments

In these years, football struggled to survive. The economic crisis in some regions affected the clubs and the tournaments created in the first half of the decade. At the same time, the divisions inside Spanish football started to appear and it had consequences in the newly created tournaments. Still, the game was able to survive and the first steps towards more solid structures were done too.


Campionat de Catalunya

The football in Catalonia fell in deep crisis due to a crisis in the city. Some clubs disappeared and the most important clubs, FC Barcelona and Club Espanyol, struggled to survive. Club Espanyol stop functioning as football club. Miró-Trepat, who was the leader of Club Español, suffered a serious illness and some of their players, who were university students, left the club. As a consequence Español stopped applying to the tournaments. Some of the most important players joined X Sporting Club, a club that was the successor of the already disappeared Irish FC.

In FC Barcelona, the situation was quite similar, although the club did not stop playing games. The amount of members started to decrease for the first time in the history of the club and the team paid the consequences. For the first time, FC Barcelona traveled to Bilbao to play a friendly game against Athletic Club. The Catalans lost the game, 10-1, and the press mocked the blaugranas, current Catalan champions.

Only four clubs applied to the Campionat de Catalunya: FC Barcelona, who defended their crown, FC Internacional, X SC and Català FC. X SC, formed by ex-Español Club players, won the title easily and FC Barcelona was not even a rival for them.

Source: RSSSF Archives

Campeonato de Madrid

The situation in Madrid was not much better. The clubs were struggling to survive and only two clubs played the tournament. Madrid FC faced Internacional del Madrid and won comfortably: 7-0.

Copa del Rey

One more year, the chosen format was a triangular league. Madrid FC were the current winners and represented Madrid and their two rivals were Athletic Club and, for the first time, Recreativo de Huelva, the oldest club of Spain. The Catalans X SC refused to play the tournament due to the economic crisis.

There was some expectation about the presence of Recreativo, since their team was formed by lots of British players, who had some prestige due to their nationality.  The first game was a Madrid FC-Recreativo and the madridistas showed clear superiority, winning 3-0. In the second round, Madrid FC faced Athletic Club, but this time the Basques were not a rival for the madridistas, who beat their rivals (4-1).  Madrid were the winners of this edition and they did not have to wait for the result of the last game, where the Basques of Athletic also beat Recreativo (3-0), who disappointed in this tournament.

Madrid FC, the best team of Spain in 1906


Campionat de Catalunya

The crisis of the Catalan football was evident and only three teams played the competition: X SC, FC Barcelona and Català SC. Internacional FC disappeared too. Some sources consider that this tournament were the roots of the rivalry between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol. As it has been already said, X SC was formed by several former Club Español players. The tournament was a close fight for the title between X SC and FC Barcelona.

Both teams had to decide the title in the last game of the tournament. X SC were winning the game (3-2), but the referee decided to add some injury time, since a fight involving two players (Torras, X SC; and Duran, FC Barcelona) ended up in a massive brawl and the police had to intervene, stopping the game for a while. When the final whistle was near, the referee awarded a dangerous foul for the blaugranas. FC Barcelona scored the foul and tied the game, which gave them the title. X SC protested and, the following day, when the referee wrote his report, he decided to revoke his decision, since he considered the protests of X SC, who defended that the injury time was completed when the blaugranas scored their goal. The organization decided to replay the game some days later. This time, X SC won the game (3-1) and, as a consequence, the title.

Source: RSSSF Archives

Campeonato de Madrid

If the Catalan tournament was a mess, the Campeonato de Madrid was not any better. Four teams played the tournament: Madrid FC, Athletic Madrid (current Atlético Madrid), Moncloa FC and Iris FC. This tournament had the first derby between Athletic Madrid and Madrid FC, but all the results were cancelled, since the football pitch did not accomplish with the rules. Madrid FC won the tournament, but the Federation decided to leave a vacant, since the tournament was cancelled.

Copa del Rey

After the failures of the previous editions, the tournament, still organized by Madrid FC, wanted to gather the best clubs of all Spain. Several clubs were invited: X SC, FC Barcelona, Moderno de Guadalajara, Recreativo de Huelva, San Sebastián Recreation Club, Athletic Club, Excelsior Madrid, Hispania de Madrid, Vizcaya Club (gathering players of Athletic and Union Atlética Vizcaína), Hamilton FC from Salamanca and Vigo FC (predecessor of Celta Vigo).

However, the Catalan clubs and San Sebastian Recreation declined the invitation due to their crisis and Moderno de Guadalajara was disqualified by the organization. The clubs of Madrid played among themselves to decide the representative of Madrid and the contest was won by Madrid FC. At the end, only five clubs participated in a league system: Madrid FC; Vizcaya Club, Recreativo Huelva, Hamilton FC and Vigo FC. The teams of Vigo had lots of British players, while Hamilton FC was a team of an Irish school located in Salamanca. All the games were played in five days in the Hipódromo de Madrid.

As Madrid FC and Vizcaya Club (who had the players of Athletic Club) were the main favourites, their clash was supposed to be decisive. The Basque team defeated the madridistas (2-3) in a decisive game, but a couple of days later, Vizcaya Club got surprised by Vigo FC (2-1), who helped the madridistas to tie with the favorites. At the end, Madrid FC and Vizcaya tied in the standings.

Source: RSSSF Archives

Since Madrid FC and Vizcaya Club had tied, there was a replay to decide the winner. The expectations on this game were huge, since the matches between Basques and madridistas were already a classic. 6,000 people showed up at the Hipódromo de Madrid in a record attendance for the tournament. The Basques, who looked more tired, according to the sources, paid the consequences in the second half of the game and their goalkeeper got injured. Madrid FC won the game 1-0 with a goal scored by Prast in the 80'.

The Basques protested to the organization, due to the behavior of the fans, who were very hostile with them. The complaints were not accepted and Madrid FC was declared winner of the tournament. The Basque club declined the invitation the following year as a consequence of this issue.


Campionat de Catalunya

The tournament got a new life this season. Five clubs applied to the competition: X SC, FC Barcelona, Català SC, España FC and AC Galeno (former players of Universitari). At the end, AC Galeno did not play any game. At the same time, for the first time a junior tournament appeared, the Campionat de Juniors.

Despite FC Barcelona reached an all time bottom in terms of amount of socios (only 65 when they had more than 250 before the crisis), the blaugranas were the main rivals of the main favorites, X SC. The tournament was a close fight between the two favorites, which was decided by external events, which made the rivalry of the players of both clubs reach new limits. FC Barcelona was the leader after beating X SC and led the standings until the last game. In the last matchday, España FC and Català SC had to face each other. But España FC did not show up in protest, since they were angry with a federation mainly controlled by X SC. As a consequence of it, all their results should have been cancelled, which would have given the title to FC Barcelona, independently of the result between the blaugranas and X SC. However, Català SC, historical big rivals of the blaugranas protested and the federation only cancelled this last game. As a consequence, the victory of X SC against Barcelona in the last game gave the former players of Español the title for the third time in a row... and the rivalry only kept growing.

Source: RSSSF Archives

Campeonato de Madrid

After the mess of the previous season, for the first time, the Campeonato de Madrid started to work in a more serious way. Madrid FC, Athletic Madrid, Sociedad Gimnástica Española (born from the ashes of Moncloa FC, Hispania de Madrid and Iris FC) and Español de Madrid played a league, following the Catalan model.

The tournament saw a close fight for the title between Madrid FC, Gimnástica and Athletic Madrid. Despite the madridistas defeated Gimnástica in the first game of the tournament, their advantage disappeared when Madrid FC did not show up in their game against Athletic Madrid, who got the victory as a consequence of it. In the return game, Madrid FC won the derby against Athletic Madrid, in what it was the beginning of an eternal rivalry. A draw between Athletic and Gimnástica made the last game decisive. Madrid FC had to visit the home of Gimnástica and the draw was enough for the madridistas (3-3) to win the title, the 3rd for them.

RSSSF Archives

Copa del Rey

The tournament reached an all time low. Madrid FC kept organizing the tournament, but most of the clubs declined the invitation. The Catalans still were in economic crisis and focusing in their own tournament, while Athletic Club did not inscribe in protest for the events of the previous edition. Only Vigo FC, who had won an unofficial tournament in Galicia, accepted the invitation.

The Copa was just a single game between both clubs, played on the muddy pitch of the new stadium of O'Donnell. Madrid FC won the game (2-1), winning the fourth Copa in a row, which was record that has only been matched by Athletic 25 years later.


Campionat de Catalunya

During the summer of 1908, FC Barcelona was about to disappear and Hans Gamper returned in order to rescue the club from the crisis. Gamper started to recover all socios and looked for new members. At the same time, Gamper decided to make a strong bet on the future of the club and projected the first own stadium of the club, L'Estadi del Carrer Indústria, popularly known as L'Escopidora, which eventually held 9,000 fans and was the first stadium to have artificial light. As anecdote, the nickname culés appeared at that time, since from outside the stadium people could see the asses of the fans sitting on the walls of the stadium when the team was playing. At the same time, Julià Claperà and Emili Sampere refunded Club Español as Club Deportivo Español, while X SC, the club that had gathered their players during the 3 years of crisis, disappeared.

In this new edition of the Campionat de Catalunya, there were five clubs: FC Barcelona, CD Español, FC España, Català SC and FC Galeno (formed Universitari). After 3 years of dominance of X SC and their Español players, FC Barcelona went back on track and won the title without having a rival, not losing a single game in the entire tournament, which gave them the ticket to play the Copa del Rey.

Source: RSSSF and Wikipedia

Campeonato de Madrid

The Campeonato de Madrid kept growing and the four clubs that had played the previous edition repeated their participation this year again. This time it was a league, but only one round played in a neutral stadium. After years of dominance of Madrid FC, there was a change in the hierarchy of the competition. Español de Madrid found no rival in the competition and won the title dominating all their rivals.

Source: RSSSF Archives

Copa del Rey

Madrid FC kept organizing the tournament before the mess that was about to start around this competition, but, since the madridistas did not win the Campeonato de Madrid, they did not play in this competition, although they offered their stadium in the O'Donnell street.

Five different clubs applied to the tournament: Español de Madrid, as winners of Madrid; FC Barcelona, which meant the return of the Catalans of this competition after years of absence; Athletic Club from Bizkaia; Club Ciclista San Sebastián, which was the name of the newly created Sociedad de San Sebastián (who did not play under this name since they did not have the licence to play yet) and Galicia FC, which was a selection of teams of Vigo.

There was a previous round between the two Basque teams and, surprisingly, Club Ciclista defeated Athletic Club (4-2), leaving one of the main favorites out of the competition. In the semifinals, Español de Madrid also surprised everyone by defeating FC Barcelona, the Catalan champions (3-2), and Club Ciclista made their way to the final beating Galicia FC in the 2nd semifinal (2-0).

The final was played under heavy rain between Español de Madrid and Club Ciclista. The reports say that Español de Madrid carried the weight of the team and were the most attacking team, but they clashed against the defense of Club Ciclista. At half time, the result was a 0-1 for the Basques, who extended their advantage in the early minutes of the second half. Despite Español could reduce the advantage of the donostiarras and enjoyed a penalty to tie the game (although it was missed), Club Ciclista scored a goal with 10 minutes to go and won the first title in their history.

Source: RSSSF Archives


Campionat de Catalunya

The Campionat de Catalunya counted on the participation of some new clubs, like Star FC or FC Central, but the second part of the tournament was a complete mess, since several games were not played and there were several administrative solutions to decide the results. In one way or another, FC Barcelona was the owner of the competition without any kind of opposition, winning every single game they played. The blaugranas were back on track thanks to the good management of Hans Gamper, who made possible the future of the club with the construction of the new stadium and his "marketing" skills. Gamper used to finish his speeches with an already classic "Visca FC Barcelona i Visca Catalunya", which made possible to get the attraction of the popular working-class and the industrial middle-class around the club.

Source: Wikipedia + El Mundo Deportivo

Campeonato de Madrid

There is not much information about this edition. The sources claim that the title was won by Madrid FC in a league of 3 clubs, where they faced Gimástica and Español de Madrid. This situation was provoked by the division of the Spanish football in two different factions (more about it in the Copa del Rey part). The winner of the Campeonato de Madrid did not give the ticket for the Copa del Rey, as in previous editions. So there was a game between Español de Madrid and Gimnástica to decide the representative of Madrid. Español won (2-0).

Copa del Rey

1909 was the year of the division. In January 1909 some of the most important clubs of Spain created the Federación Española de Clubes de Fútbol (FECF), which was the direct precedent of the current Spanish FA. The founding clubs were Madrid FC, Vigo Sporting, Deportivo de La Coruña, Cartagena, Circulo Industrial y de Sport de Avilés, Athletic Club, Recreativo de Huelva, Gimnástica and Español de Madrid. Until 1909, the competition had been organized by Madrid FC, aside a couple the exception of the years of the Federación Madrileña de Foot-ball.

But in 1909, Club Ciclista de San Sebastián had won the Copa and made a request to host the games in San Sebastián. Most of the clubs of the FEF rejected this request, since they considered that Madrid was the right place to play the games, given the geographical centrality of the capital of Spain, which saved them costs.

As a consequence, Club Ciclista did not join the FECF and decided to create a tournament by themselves in San Sebastián. Initially, they counted on the participation of 11 clubs that had not joined the FECF, but most of them declined the invitation later on. Finally, two of the members of the FECF decided to travel to San Sebastián. One of them was Athletic Club, who had always defended the petition made by the donostiarras: the finals had to be played in the home of the previous winner. The other club was Madrid FC. In this case, it seems that the decision was influenced by José Berraondo, one of the vice-presidents of the club, who used to live in San Sebastián. In one way or another, Madrid FC had not qualified for the Copa and the club was struggling to survive (some of the players they used in this tournament were players of Gimnástica).


Despite the initial strength of the FECF, the absences were remarkable and only 3 clubs decided to travel to play the tournament in Madrid: Español de Madrid, FC Barcelona and Deportivo de La Coruña. The organization decided to use a 3 team league in one round. All the games were played in the Tiro de Pichón.

The initial game was played between FC Barcelona and Deportivo. The Catalans, as it had happened in the Catalan tournament, found no opposition and easily defeated the galegos (5-0). The second game was played between Deportivo and the winners of Madrid, Español, who ended up winning the game (1-3).

The last game was a "final" between FC Barcelona and Español de Madrid. The españolistas surprised the blaugranas with two early goals scored by Buylla. It was only the 12' and Español de Madrid were 2 goals up, an advantage they kept until the half time. However, the reaction of the Catalans in the second half was impressive. In only 20 minutes, Rodriguez and Comanala tied the game. With 5 minutes to go, Charles Wallace decided the game for FC Barcelona, who won their first Copa title.

FC Barcelona 1910

Torneo de San Sebastián

Ironically, the tournament that had been promoted by Club Ciclista did not count with this club, which had been dismantled after the title of 1909. The football players of this cycling club decided to create an exclusive football club, Sociedad de San Sebastián, but according to the statutes of the Copa, the club was not old enough to play the competition, so they joined a local club called Vasconia Sporting Club to play the competition. Given the importance participants the popular name of the tournament was Torneo de Campeones.

The first game was played by Athletic Club and Madrid FC, a classic already. Athletic won the game against the weakened madridistas. The second game was decisive at the end. The two Basque clubs faced each other. The donostiarras, former players of Club Ciclista, hidden under the Vasconia name, could not stopped their neighbors. Athletic won 2-0 and grabbed the third Copa title of their history. The last game was a meaningless Vasconia SC-Madrid FC, which was won by the local team (2-0).

Athletic Club 1910
Even though some sources claim that this second tournament was organized by a federation called Unión Española de Clubes (UEC), the sources prove that it was not an official tournament. However, the members of the FECF and the dissident clubs signed the peace. The FECF accepted to play the finals out of Madrid in order to keep the union, but this situation was just the beginning of years of tensions.

List of winners

Campionat de Catalunya
1906 - X SC
1907 - X SC
1908 - X SC
1909 - FC Barcelona
1910 - FC Barcelona

Campeonato de Madrid
1906 - Madrid FC
1907 - Cancelled
1908 - Madrid FC
1909 - Club Español Madrid
1910 - Madrid FC

Copa del Rey
1906 - Madrid FC
1907 - Madrid FC
1908 - Madrid FC
1909 - Club Ciclista de San Sebastián
1910 - FC Barcelona (FECF) and Athletic Club (Torneo San Sebastián)

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