Saturday, October 8, 2011

History of the Spanish football (V): 1916-1920, the Basque power, the Madrid-Barça rivalry and the "furia roja"

Previous chapter: History of the Spanish football (IV): 1911-1915, the creation of RFEF, Athletic dominance and first idols

In these five years, the first big icons of football started to appear, the first real stars of football in Spain. In that sense, players like "Pichichi", Belauste, Acedo, Ricardo Zamora, Félix Sesúmaga, René Petit, Santiago Bernabéu, Sancho, Samitier or Alcantara were already well-known by the public and their fame was in constant growth. These were years of Basque domination, with their teams winning titles and playing finals, while Madrid FC and FC Barcelona consolidated their position in their zones. Madridistas and culés broke their good relationshup with a run of hot clashes in the year 1916, which set the base of the biggest rivalry in football. The decade was closed by the first games of the Spanish NT and their silver medal in the Olympic Games 1920.


Copa del Rey

The Spanish football kept growing and, as a consequence of the creation of the RFEF and the Regional federations, a new tournament appeared in Andalusia, who also had the chance to register in the Copa del Rey from this point. Still, the most important tournaments were still played in the classic zones of Catalonia, Madrid and Basque Country.

In the Campionat de Catalunya, FC Barcelona recovered the crown after two trophyless seasons (five, if we do not count the failure tournament of 1913). The culés were totally unstoppable, led by a brilliant Paulino Alcántara, and they won the tournament winning all the games of the league. Only FC España could show some shy opposition. RCD Español ended up in 4th position. In this edition of the tournament, a young 16 years old Ricardo Zamora impress with Universitari SC and ends up joining Español at the end of the tournament.

In the Campeonato de Madrid, Madrid FC won the title 3 years later. The madridistas found their biggest rival in the last winner of the competition, Racing Madrid. A 21 years old Santiago Bernabéu becomes one of the leaders of the team in attacking positions.

Santiago Bernabéu

In the Basque Country, the Campeonato Norte is won by Athletic Club for the 3rd time in a row, after huge polemics with Real Sociedad, which only heated the rivalry between both clubs, and confirming the superiority of the club of Bizkaia once more. As it has been said, the new Copa de Andalucía is created and Español FC Cádiz are the first winners, being Sevilla FC the runner-up. The Campeonato de Galicia was won by Fortuna de Vigo.

All these winners got the right to play the Copa del Rey, but due to economic reasons, Español Cádiz and Fortuna Vigo withdrew before the tournament started. As a consequence of it, there were only 3 participants: FC Barcelona and Madrid FC, who had to play the semifinals, and Athletic Club, who were exempt for being the current champions and got the place in the final automatically.

These semifinals set the beginning of the huge rivalry between FC Barcelona and Madrid FC. The system of the tournament did not count the goals yet to decide the team that had to advance, but the won games. This format and the results had a negative effect on the relationship of both clubs, which had been friendly until then, but got seriously damaged.

Paulino Alcántara
For the first time since 1902, FC Barcelona and Madrid FC met in official competition. The first leg of the semifinal was played in the Velodrome of Barcelona, RCD Español's home, on March 25, 1916. The reports informed about the initial superiority of the madridistas, who went for the victory in the first minutes of the game. The madridistas got the lead in the scoreboard with a goal scored by one of the best players of this era, the French René Petit. But the goal stopped the madridista impulsed and Barcelona started to dominate the game. The star of the Catalan team, Alcántara, tied the game with a magnificent shot, which was labeled as the best of the season for the culés. After the 1-1 in half time, Barcelona kept insisting and found a new goal, this time scored by Martínez. The Catalans ended up winning the game by this 2-1. Despite the result, the Catalans complained about the referee. Despite the big expectations, the game was more physical than beautiful.

The second leg was played in the O'Donnell stadium of Madrid FC, where 10,000 packed the stands. The madridistas went for the needed victory since the first minute against a Barcelona that couldn't count on two important players, like the captain Massana and Viñals. The efforts of the madridistas did not get result and, after 15 minutes of pressure, Barcelona started to dominate and Martínez advanced the away team (0-1). The home crowd, disappointed by the poor game of the madridistas, applauded the Catalans and criticized the merengues. But despite the superiority of the blaugranas, a handball inside the box gave the chance for Madrid FC to score. Santiago Bernabéu tied the game and, only a few minutes later, right before half time, the same Bernabéu scored a nice goal that overcame the result despite the superiority of the Catalans. In the second half, the blaugranas look for the goal that give them the passport to the final during the first 15 minutes, but their football disappeared and Madrid enjoyed their best minutes of football. As a consequence of it, two goals of the madridistas, one of them scored by Petit, set the final 4-1.

René Petit

This is where the polemics start. The RFEF decides that the replay to decide the finalist had to be played in Athletic Madrid's O'Donnell stadium 15 days later. The Catalans protested since the game was in Madrid, despite it was not Madrid's home, although the crowd was mainly neutral. After 2 minutes, Madrid FC scored the first goal of the afternoon, scored by Belaunde, which excited the madridista part of the crowd. The attack of the madridistas kept being efficient and, only a few minutes later, a messy action ended up with an own goal of the Catalan goalkeeper Bru (2-0). The clumsy barcelonistas were near the knock out when Massana touched the ball with the hand, but the shot of Bernabéu was stopped by Bru. Everything changed at that point and Alcantará became the hero of the Catalans. The Catalan striker led the attack of the blaugranas scoring two goals in the last minutes of the first half to tie the game at half time (2-2). The second half declined in beauty and grew in tension. The madridistas found a renovated impulse and, despite the good actions of Bru, Belaunde scored his second goal to advance the local team. Once more, Barcelona had to fight against the result and the reaction was awarded, this time with a goal scored by Bau (3-3). But this time Barcelona kept insisting and a goal of Mallorquín gave the Catalans the lead (3-4). When the game was about to finish, with only 3 minutes to go, a good combination of the madridistas is kicked by Belaunde to the net (4-4) and the enthusiasm gets spread in the stands.

There was a need of an extra time. In the early minutes of the first half, Madrid gets the lead again in a goal scored by Santiago Bernabéu (5-4), who would became the hero of the madridistas at the end. Despite Madrid looked stronger physically and kept attacking, Barcelona caught the rival in a counter and Alcántara tied the game (5-5) in the second half of the extra time. The game kept open and the barcelonistas seemed to score the winning goal when Martínez scored the sixth for the Catalans (5-6). Once more, when the barcelonistas were almost in the final, a crossed ball hits in Massana's hand and the referee Berraondo awarded a penalty for Madrid FC, very protested by the Catalans. In this penalty, Bernabéu tied only 3 minutes before the end of the game. The game ended up with a 6-6 that forced a second replay and the fans applauded the memorable game of the two club under the protests of the Catalans towards the referee and the praising on Bru, the goalkeeper who saved Barcelona in lots of occasions.

The referee Berraondo
This second replay was the decisive one, again in O'Donnell, Athletic Madrid's home, with the same referee Berraondo. This time the Catalans started dominating the game and a superb Martínez advanced the blaugranas in the scoreboard (0-1). This goal made the madridistas react, drawing the game after a combination with a goal scored by Bernabéu (1-1).  The local team kept attacking, but this enthusiasm was stopped by another counter of Alcantara and Martínez. The last scored the second goal for the blaugranas before half time (1-2). In the second half, it was Barcelona who ended up dominating the game, but the madridistas were able to tie the game after a set piece headed by Zabala into the net (2-2). The game got very open in the last minutes of the game. But the polemics started with another penalty, once again very protested. Once more, Bru becomes Barcelona's savior and stopped the penalty, taking the game to another tense extra time.

The extra time was very tense and the consequences were important. Barcelona started dominating and Alcántara missed some chances, but a counter of Madrid is executed by Sotero. The Catalans surrounded the referee Berraondo complaining, since they considered that the goal was scored in clear offside. The game turned ugly, the madridistas wasted time and the crowd got divided in their opinions. Everything exploded after the fourth goal of the madridistas. Another merengue counter ended up in a mess inside the box, which is finished when Sotero kicks the ball in. The blaugranas protested, since they considered there was a foul on the goalkeeper Bru, who was supposedly grabbed by a rival. The ref Berraondo did not make any decision and the goal went to the scoreboard (4-2). The very angry Catalans, led by their captain Massana, left the game 7 minutes before the end, showing their anger against the referee Berraondo, who had awarded the madridistas with 4 penalties (2 of them stopped by Bru) in the run of games and, especially, for the polemic actions in the extra time. As anecdote, Berraondo had played for Madrid from 1902 to 1909 and for Barcelona in the 1913-1914 season, playing also for Real Sociedad in between. Later on, he was the coach of Real Madrid in the late 20s.

The reactions were terrible. The madridistas screamed against the culés for what they considered lack of fair play attitude, while the Catalans targeted the referee, claiming that Berraondo had been Madrid's accomplice in a robbery. In the following days, the Federación Centro issued a prohibition for all the Madrid clubs to compete against FC Barcelona, a reaction that was disapproved by the RFEF later. In Barcelona, the fans made a massive reception for the team, who were applauded by the barcelonista crowd, while the captain Massana expressed the gratitude on the fans and his anger against Berraondo.

Rafael Moreno "Pichichi"

Even before the final, the RFEF had decided that the final of 1916 had to be played in Barcelona, in L'Escopidora, FC Barcelona's home, on May 7. This final was played by Athletic and Madrid under a very tense atmosphere. The events of the games between FC Barcelona and Madrid FC played 15 days before had heated the barcelonistas, who saw a chance to express their anger. At these times, football was still amateur, but had already broken the borders of the middle class to become a popular game. Thousands of fans packed the L'Escopidora and many of them stayed out of the stadium during the game in a very hot atmosphere. The madridistas jumped on the pitch in first place and the whole stadium reacted with anger, booing the merengues, while Athletic was strongly applauded by the fans of the stadium. This kind of reaction were uncommon, but the semifinals were in the minds of many barcelonistas. Despite the press requested calm and expressed their shame on these events, the fans did not hesitate to express their anger against the madridistas.

The game was far from beautiful. Besides the tension, the game was played under heavy rain on a muddy pitch. Athletic started dominating the game and the legendary striker Pichichi put the goal defended by the madridista Teus under problems. After some minutes of boring football due to the state of the pitch, the Athletic forwards, Zubizarreta and Acedo connect and the last gave the Basques the lead in the scoreboard (1-0), which was celebrated by the fans. In this situation, a superior Athletic kept attacking and this time Zubizarreta scored the 2-0, which was the result at half time.

In the second half, the madridistas collapsed, given the hostile atmosphere and the evident superiority of Athletic. Pichichi, Irureta, Zubizareta and Acedo kept enjoying chances. After 15 minutes, Zubizarreta ended up deciding the game with the 3-0, which was rounded 9 minutes later with a fourth goal. Despite the hat-trick of Zubizarreta, the press highlighted the great game of Pichichi, whose dribblings and passes amazed the crowd. Athletic won the game 4-0 and won their 9th title, the 3rd Copa in a row, which allowed them to win the trophy in property.


The sad events did not finish with the game, since the some radical fans awaited Madrid FC's bus, which was attacked with rocks by culé fans in their departure. The police had to intervene against the masses in order to avoid bigger problems.

In this Copa, Athletic confirmed they were the strongest club of the country and Barcelona and Madrid set the base of an eternal rivalry.


Football kept growing in Spain this season and the Campeonato Regional de Asturias was a new addition to the regional leagues. At the same time, the Copa del Rey grew in prestige with more participants as a consequence of the constant creation of the regional leagues, promoted by the RFEF.

The Campionat de Catalunya was marked by the polemics. The tournament was a close fight between the three main powers of the Catalan football: FC Barcelona, as defending champions; RCD Español and FC España. Despite the dominance of FC España, who recovered their best level, the league was marked by the so called "Garchitorena case". Garchitorena was a new signings of Barcelona, but with three games to go, RCD Español presented a formal complaint to the Catalan federation, claiming that this player was a foreigner that did not accomplish with the rules of the league. The federation estimated the complaint and the games of Barcelona which had this player involved were cancelled and the federation ordered the replays. As a consequence of this decision, FC Barcelona retires from the competition. These events put the club in internal crisis and the only good news are the debut of two important players for the future of the club: Sanchón and Sagi. In one way or another, these incidents did not hide the superiority of FC España, who got the ticket for the Copa del Rey again.

In the Campeonato de Madrid, Madrid FC confirmed their renovated superiority with their 2nd title in a row. The madridistas did not have a rival in the competition and won all the games of the league, with Athletic Madrid coming in 2nd position. With this title, Madrid FC earned their place in the Copa del Rey.

In the Campeonato Norte, after 3 years of Athletic's dominance, Arenas Club Getxo rises as a new power in the Basque football. Athletic starts a transition period, since players like Ibarretxe, Solaun and Eguía retire. As a consequence of it, Athletic lost their right to play the Copa in favor of Arenas Club. In the Campeonato de Galicia, Real Vigo Sporting Club wins the competition. In the Copa de Andalucía, the two oldest clubs of the region, Recreativo and Sevilla start a stage of close rivalry. In this 2nd edition, Sevilla FC wins the title. The Campeonato Regional de Asturias won by Real Sporting Gijón in his first edition.

The Copa del Rey was played by all the regional winners and the competition found a new life with the rise of participants. A draw decided the four clubs that had to play the Quarter finals and there were two exempt clubs: Real Vigo Sporting and FC España. In the first round, Madrid FC faced Sevilla FC and Arenas de Getxo met Sporting Gijón.

Source: Wikipedia

The first leg between Madrid FC and Sevilla FC were played in Madrid. In the stadium of O'Donnell, Madrid trashed Sevilla with a magnificent 8-1. At the same time, the Basque Arenas Club won their away game at Gijón, defeating Sporting with a 0-1. In the second leg, Arenas Club trashed Sporting (7-1) to advance to the semifinals. In Seville, Sevilla were able to defeat Madrid in a surprising 2-1 that forced a replay. This tie-breaker was played the following day, also in Seville, but this time Madrid FC confirmed their favorite role, defeating the sevillistas with a clear 0-4.

In the semifinals, first leg, Madrid FC faced the Catalans FC España at home. The madridistas were very superior against the powerful Catalan club, winning comfortably (4-1). At the same time, the Basque Arenas Club had to suffer to defeat the Galegos of Real Vigo SC with a short 2-1. In the second leg, Arenas were very superior and achieved a 0-2 victory in Vigo, which allowed them to play their first Copa final in their first participation. In Barcelona, Madrid was surprised by FC España, who were stronger in Catalan lands (3-1) forcing the replay. This replay was played in Barcelona too, 2 days later, which ended up with a 2-2 that was suspended after the extra time due to lack of light. 19 days later, the final replay was played, also in Barcelona. This time, the madridistas did not miss their chance and won 0-1 away, reaching a new Copa final.

This final was played in Barcelona, in the stadium of Muntaner, RCD Español's home (and FC Barcelona's home in the 1900s), on May 13, 1917. 5,000 fans attended to this game, but this time the atmosphere was different. The crowd was more friendly and there was not an evident support on any team, as it had happened in the polemic Copa of 1916. The game was beautiful in the first half, each team with their own weapons: the madridistas showing a better treatment of the ball, while the Basques bet for a more physical football. In the second half, the level of football declined and got more tense, but the result did not change in the 90 minutes (0-0). In the extra time, the tiredness appeared and the game was monotonous. Despite the reports confirmed that Madrid FC was the best team on the pitch, the final 0-0 forced a replay, which had to be played 2 days later.

The replay was played in Muntaner again, but with a lower attendance of 2,000 fans, given that it was a labor day. In the first half, Arenas Club surprised the madridistas, who looked very clumsy in the first minutes of the game. As a result, Suárez scored for the areneros, advancing the Basque club in the scoreboard after 15 minutes. During the first half, the game was marked by the superiority of Arenas Club and the 1-0 was fair. In the early moments of the second half, Arenas kept looking for a goal to open a decisive gap, but the Basques started to pay their physical effort, while Madrid FC started to grow with their own style: combination and short passes. The game changed and Madrid haunted Arenas goal and, with 16 minutes to go, the referee awarded Madrid FC with a doubtful penalty that was stopped by the Basque goalie Jauregi. Despite this missed chance, Madrid only needed one more minute to score: René Petit (1-1). The tie was the result at the end of the 90 minutes. Since both teams wanted to avoid more replays, the referee decided to play extra times of 20 minutes until a team could win the game. After the first 20 minutes of extra time, the 1-1 was still in the scoreboard, but only 3 minutes after the game was retaken, Ricardo Álvarez scored the 2-1 for Madrid FC, which was a fair result given the performances of both teams in this part of the game. In the last minutes of the decisive extra time, Madrid FC kept insisting and the result was not bigger due to the great game of the arenero goalie Jauregi. Madrid FC won the game 2-1 and their 5th Copa title. The madridistas were received in Madrid by a thousand of fans, who cheered their heroes in the midnight of the capital.



In Catalonia, the Campionat de Catalunya was won by RCD Español, which was the first title of the club in three years. Español, where a very young Ricardo Zamora started to write his legend, dominated the tournament, having FC España as main rival in the competition. In Barcelona, the internal crisis continued and Gamper returned to the presidency of the club once more and signed the former barcelonista player Jack Greenwell as new manager. Greenwell was the second coach of the club, succeeding the also English coach Mr. Barlow. 

The Campeonato de Madrid was won by Madrid FC by the third time in a row. Despite the loss of René Petit, one of the stars of the team, who prefered to leave his club in order to return to the city where he grew up in his childhood, the madridistas kept showing their supremacy in the capital of Spain. Athletic Madrid presented some opposition, but could not avoid the victory of the madridistas.

In the Basque Country, the Campeonato Norte had a new champion: Real Unión de Irún. At that moment, the Basque football had the most powerful clubs. Real Unión de Irún was created in 1915, when Racing Irún and Sporting Irún merged. In Gipuzkoa, Real Unión found the support of the east zone of the province, while Real Sociedad was the team of the capital, the rivalry among them was huge back then. In Bizkaia, Athletic still was in transition time, while Arenas Club were one of the powers in those years. 

Real Unión Irún in the Copa del Rey final 1918
In the rest of regional tournaments, Recreativo de Huelva defeated Sevilla FC in the final of the Copa de Andalucía. In the Campeonato Regional de Asturias, Sporting Gijón won their 2nd consecutive title. In Galicia, RC Fortuna de Vigo were the winners.

All these winners played the Copa del Rey. In the draw, Recreativo de Huelva and Fortuna Vigo were exempt from playing the Quarter finals. In this round, in order to save costs, Real Unión de Irún and Sporting Gijón decided to play the pass to the semifinals in just one game in a neutral stadium. The game played in O'Donnell had the expected result and the favourites, Real Unión, defeated Sporting Gijón without much problems (4-1). In the other semifinal, played on two legs, Madrid visited Español's Muntaner stadium. The previous winners of the tournament were clearly defeated by Español, who played their best game of the season, according to the reports in the press. The game was decided in the first half with the goals of Reig and Gràcia, who scored two goals for the final 3-0. In the second leg, played in Madrid's O'Donnell, the story was different though. Despite the game was ugly due to the weather conditions, Santiago Bernabéu scored the winning goal for the madridistas after an error of the goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora (1-0). The replay was hosted in Athletic Madrid's O'Donnell. The madridistas went for the victory in the early moments of the match and, in only 10 minutes, Posada and Bernabéu gave the madridistas a comfortable advantage. Right before half time, Gràcia could reduce the distances with a goal that turned out useless, since the 2-1 did not change until the end of the game.

In the semifinals, Madrid traveled to Huelva to face Recreativo in the Velodrome of the city. Since the very first minutes of the game, Madrid showed why they were the favorites and two early goals scored by Posada and Bernabéu gave them a result that allowed them to save efforts. The reports said that Madrid won, not even needing to play at their best level. In Madrid, the madridistas only confirmed why they were labeled as favorites. The madridistas were the best team during all the game and Álvarez scored the first goal for the merengues 5 minutes before half time in a penalty kick, which was the second of the game, although the first was missed by the same player. In the second half, Recreativo could only fight, while Madrid developed a better football and the two goals of Posada and the one of Bernabéu gave Madrid the ticket to the final for the third time in a row. The other semifinal was played in neutral ground, in Madrid, only a few days after the previous round, by Real Unión Irún and Fortuna Vigo. Once more, the Basque team showed they had no rival in this season and clearly defeated their rivals, improving the image shown in the previous round. Real Unión won by a clear 4-1 after leading the scoreboard with a 2-0 at half time.


The final was played in O'Donnell, Madrid, on May 12. This final definitely was played by the two best teams of the moment: Madrid FC, the current champions of the competition, and Real Unión, the new rising power of the Basque football. The reports say that the first minutes were calm and none of the finalists decided to go for the victory. Everything started to change when René Petit, ex-madridista now in Real Unión, put his team on his shoulders, giving the irundarras the control of the game. The match was not exempt from polemics and in the 49' of the first half, a shot by Juan Legarreta, captain and one of the stars of the Basques, is stopped by Teus in what was a ghost goal, which was awarded by the goal referee and, as a consequence allowed by the principal ref, Pepe Torrens. This goal was very protested by the madridistas and the crowd in general. In the Catalan newspaper, El Mundo Deportivo the goal was not questioned, while the Madrid located ABC clearly stated that only the ref saw this goal and suggest that Real Unión should give the referee the socio card.

Real Unión's Juan Legarreta
In the second half, Real Unión kept pressuring the madridistas in the first minutes, but the game changes in few minutes, when in the first counter of the madridistas, the local team claims that there was a handball by a Basque defender. The referee Torrens let the game continue and the madridista fans protested in the stands. But, only some minutes later, there was a similar action with the same result: the supposed handball is not awarded by the referee with a penalty. At this point, the madridista supporters invade the pitch stopping the game in protest. The police and the directors of Madrid had to calm the fans in order to continue with the game. After these events, the madridistas kept attacking and enjoyed chances to tie the game. However, in a counter, the irundarras found Legarreta, who connected a powerful shot from out of the box that entered in Teus' goal after hitting on the crossbar when there were five minutes to go. Despite Madrid FC kept attacking, the result did not change anymore and Real Unión won their first title (the 2nd, counting on the one achieved by Racing in 1913. 

The reports of ABC and El Mundo Deportivo do not hesitate to hype the game of René Petit. The French-Basque player, who had always played in Madrid FC, for the team of the city he had been living since he was a 12 years old student, became the executioner of his former team. Despite the good reports about the madridistas Teus and Bernabéu, the irundarras Petit and the twice goal scorer Legarreta gave Real Unión de title.

In this season, two new regional tournaments appeared in the scene: the Campeonato Regional Levantino, which gathered clubs of the regions of Valencia and Murcia and, at the same time, as a consequence of an internal crisis, the Campeonato Norte got divided in two: the Campeonato Regional de Vizcaya, including clubs of Bizkaia, like Athletic Club and Arenas Club, and Santader, and the Campeonato de Guipuzcoa, which only had clubs of the province, like Real Unión de Irún and Real Sociedad, and also from Navarra and La Rioja.

In the Campionat de Catalunya, the work of Hans Gamper and Jack Greenwell with FC Barcelona showed goods and the culés completed a good season to recover the Catalan crown three years after their last title. The barcelonistas just lost one game in the whole tournament, while RCD Español were the runner-ups and FC España ended up in third position.

At the same time, in the Campeonato Regional Centro, Madrid FC's dominace saw an end and the title went to the quarter of Chamberí, where Racing Madrid won their second regional tournament in history. Racing Madrid dominated the league without much opposition and the madridistas were the runner-ups, without being a real threat for Racing.

In Bizkaia, Arenas Club de Getxo won the first edition of the Campeonato Regional de Vizcaya, and their second regional title, while Athletic still struggled in their 3rd year of crisis. The neighbor league of Campeonato de Guipuzcoa ended up in Real Sociedad's hands, who defeated the current winners of the Copa del Rey. As a consequence of it, Real Unión could not defend their title in the following competition.

Arenas' Felix Sesúmaga
In the rest of regional leagues, Sevilla FC won their second Copa de Andalucia. Fortuna Vigo recovered their lead in Galicia and Sporting Gijón repeated in Asturias. CD Aguileño, from Aguilas, a town of Murcia, won the first Campeonato Regional Levantino. All these 8 clubs would play the Copa del Rey to close the season.

The first leg of the Quarter finals was played at the end of March 1919. Sevilla FC directly advanced to the semifinals without playing a single game, since CD Aguileño withdrew in the last moment. In L'Escopidora, FC Barcelona destroyed the winners of Gipuzkoa and defeated Real Sociedad with a clear 6-0. In Bizkaia, Arenas de Getxo did not find a rival in the winners of Madrid, defeating Racing by an impressive 8-2. In Vigo,Vigo Sporting and Sporting Gijón tied 2-2, a result that favored the visitors with the 2nd leg in sight.

The second leg during April. FC Barcelona impressed everyone defeating Real Sociedad (1-3) with a clear superiority. The barcelonistas appeared as one of the favorites to win the tournament, eliminating one of the most powerful clubs of the competition. In Madrid, Racing defeated Arenas Club (2-0) and forced a replay that was also played in Madrid in a neutral pitch, although the tie-breaker had a different outcome and the Basques advanced to the semis, winning with a clear 1-3. In Gijón, the local team and Vigo Sporting tied again (1-1). The replay was hosted in Santander and this time the galegos of Vigo Sporting got the ticket to the semis, winning 3-0.

Card of FC Barcelona's Viñals
In the semifinals, there were two clear favorites, FC Barcelona and Arenas Club, who did not give space to surprises. In the first leg, the Catalans defeated Sevilla with some problems (4-3). The away game, played in Madrid with the agreement of both clubs, was easier for the blaugranas (0-3). In the other semifinal, Arenas Club also imposed their strength over their rivals, winning 0-2 in Vigo. In the second leg, Arenas Club just confirmed their talent and did not have problems to humiliate Vigo Sporting with a clear 6-1.

The final was played on May 19 in the Martínez Campos stadium, Racing Madrid's home, which was packed to see the two best teams of the season. It was the first visit of Barcelona to Madrid since the incidents of 1916 and the culés found the hostility of the fans, who clearly supported the areneros. There was not a clear favorite to win the final and, in the first minutes of the final, both teams played with some caution. But very soon in the game, in the minute 15, Félix Sesúmaga started to write his place in history, dribbling two barcelonistas and shooting to beat Bru, advancing Arenas in the scoreboard. These were the best minutes of the Basque team, who enjoyed some chance to open a bigger gap. But, in the last 15 minutes of the first half, Barcelona were able to change the direction of the game and played their best minutes of the rival. At that moment, almost reaching the half time Viñals, who was the best barcelonista on the pitch, tied the game.

In the second half, nothing changed and Barcelona kept showing superiority. Once chance after another and "Lakatos" scored the second goal of the blaugranas. The Catalans kept searching a winning goal, but the Basque goalkeeper Jaúregui kept Arenas Club in the game, saving his team from the defeat. With ten minutes to go, Arenas Club could break Barcelona's defense and Sesúmaga scored his second goal of the final, when the barcelonistas almost had the match in hand. Despite the last attempts of the barcelonistas, the 2-2 was the final result after 90 minutes.

Both teams agreed to play an extra time of 30 minutes divided in two halves. This extra time was a very different story. The Catalans felt the shock of the draw in the last minutes of the game and the physical effort. Arenas Club looked stronger and toyed with the blaugranas. As a consequence of it, Sesúmaga completed his hat-trick scoring the third goal for the Basques after 6 minutes and, right before half time, Peña scored the fouth for Arenas. The last minutes of the game did not have a story, the barcelonistas were totally down and Arenas completed their party with a fifth goal in the last minute of the game, scored by Ibaibarriaga. With this 5-2, Arenas Club won their first Copa title in their history, two years after their defeat against Madrid FC.

The game of Sesúmaga impressed everyone and Gamper was able to convince the Basque star to join Barcelona's project for the following season.


The Campionat de Catalunya found a new dictator: FC Barcelona. Hans Gamper decided to leave the presidency in the summer of 1919, but his heritage was one of the most important Barcelona teams in history. During the summer, before the new season, Barcelona completed two important signings: An 18 year old Ricardo Zamora joined from the eternal rivals, RCD Español, after personal disputes with the Board. At the same time, a 17 year old Josep Samitier accepted Gamper's offer to join the club from FC Internacional. These two players were going to set an era in the Spanish football and were considered icons, even appearing in advertisements of those years. Besides, as it has been said before, one of the best strikers of those years, Félix Sesúmaga, the star of Arenas Club, also joined Barcelona. All these players were additions to an already magnificent squad, who also counted on the striker Paulino Alcántara, Viñals, Sancho or Vicente Martínez. As a result of it, Barcelona wins all the games, except a draw, and wins the Catalan tournament with an impressive gap on their main rivals, SC Sabadell. RCD Español ended up third. This attractive team got the support of the club, who already counted on 3,000 socis. The stadium of L'Escopidora located in the Industria street started to be too small and the club decided to start the project of the new stadium: Les Corts.

In Madrid, the Campeonato Centro was a close fight between Madrid FC and Athletic Madrid, who started to appear as the main threat of the madridistas in the local level. At the end, the madridistas won with a one point gap over Athletic Madrid and two on Racing Madrid. Madrid FC, once more, proved their superiority in the capital of Spain. As one of the most important events in the future of football in Madrid, the City council projected the construction of the Stadium Metropolitano de Madrid, which would be Gimnástica's, Racing's and, especially, Atlético Madrid's home for decades.

At the same time, in the Campeonato Regional de Vizcaya, Athletic Club recovered the supremacy in the Basque football after three years of failures. Athletic counted on important players like "Pichichi", Acedo, Belauste and Sabino, who also formed the core of the first Spanish national team. In the Campeonato de Guipuzcoa, Real Unión dethrone Real Sociedad and won the title.

The remaining regional winners were: Sevilla FC in Andalusia, Sporting Gijon in Asturias and Vigo Sporting in Galicia. The tournament of Levante remained empty, since the two finalists, Gimnástica de Valencia and Cartagena did not agree to play the final. As one of the most remarkable events, this 1919 was the year of the foundation of a historical club: Valencia Club de Futbol.

In the Copa del Rey, since there were not 8 teams to complete the Quarter finals, a draw decided the exempt team: Real Unión de Irún. At the same time, Sevilla FC withdrew from the competition, since they wanted to play the two games in a neutral ground of Madrid and FC Barcelona declined the petition. So the quarter finals got reduced to four teams. The draw set a fantastic clash between the two clubs with more Copa titles at that moment, Madrid FC (5 titles) vs Athletic Club (8 titles). Before the first game played in O'Donnell, Madrid, the reports of the press of Madrid talk about an inferiority complex among the madridistas before the game. The fame of players like "Pichichi", Belaunde or Acedo, whose curriculum vitae was full of titles, made them favorites. In the first minutes of the game, Madrid seemed cautions given this atmosphere and everything was confirmed by an early goal scored by José Mari. But this goal changed the attitude of the madridistas, who got rid of the pressure they were feeling to be superior in the rest of the game. Before half time, Monjardín tied for Madrid FC. The 1-1 was the result at half time and at the end of the game. The madridistas enjoyed the best chances and the press protested about the performance of the referee, in decisions against the local team. In El Molinón, Gijón, Sporting Gijón and Vigo Sporting, who saw their faces again in this competition, tied (0-0).

In the second leg, played in San Mamés, Athletic got an early lead after 3 minutes in the scoreboard thanks to a penalty scored by Laca, the hero of the Basques that afternoon. From that point, the madridistas started to control the game thanks to their combinations in midfield, while the reports talk about the bad game of "Pichichi" and José Mari. The madridistas tied the game before half time in a goal scored by González. The game was tied at half time, but the second half was a different story, and Athletic took the game to their ground, making the game much more physical. Athletic toyed with Madrid and Laca scored the second and fourth goals of the Basques, while Germán, one of the best players that day, scored the 3rd for the final 4-1 that gave Athletic the ticket to the semis. In the other game, Vigo Sporting clearly defeated Sporting Gijón with a 4-1 that put the team in the semis.

In the semis, FC Barcelona and Real Unión met in Amaute to play the first leg of the round. The Catalans impressed by their combinative football, playing with the ball on the ground. Viñals advanced the blaugranas in the early minutes of the game and Barcelona, without playing their best game, were the best team. A superiority that got increased with the injuries of several Basque players, who were not in their best form. The reports claim that Barcelona did not need to show their best football to win comfortably (0-1). In the second leg, played in L'Escopidora, Barcelona went for the game and only needed 3 minutes to get the lead, in a penalty scored by Viñals. The first half of the Catalans was memorable and the new signing Sesúmaga scored the second. Amántegui could score the first goal for the irundarras, but this goal did not hide the superiority of the Catalans and Alcántara scored the 3rd goal. In the second half, the Basques fought to enter in the game, but Viñals enjoyed a new penalty to score the fourth for the blaugranas. Since that point, the home team got relaxed and the effort and self-esteem of Real Unión were near surprising Barcelona. René Petit enjoyed a penalty and scored the 4-2 with 20 minutes to go. The fans got nervous with the goal of Echeveste for Real Unión, which was more intense when Emery scored the fourth goal in another penalty kick. Despite the attempts of Real Unión, Barcelona resisted and the 4-4 was enough to get through.

The second semifinal was played between Athletic Club and Vigo Sporting. The first leg was played in San Mamés and it was not exempt from polemics. Athletic Club dominated the first minutes of the game, without efficiency in attack. But after the initial impulse, Vigo Sporting's efforts allowed them to surprise the home team. As it happened in the games against Madrid, there were doubts about the level of football of Athletic, which were confirmed by the problems the Basques had to defeat the Galegos. The polemics started at the end of the first half. Athletic enjoyed a penalty, but Laca shot to the post and the result at half time was an unexpected 0-0. In the second half, Vigo surprised Athletic in the first minutes and Moncho scored a surprising 0-1. Since that moment, Athletic showed pride and, with more impulse than football, started to dominate the game. The referee Bertrán de Lis awarded Athletic with a new penalty, also shot by Laca and stopped by the goalkeeper. The referee considered that the Vigo players invaded the pitch and the penalty had to be repeated, but Laca missed it again. Athletic kept pushing and, in the minute 64, Germán tied the game for Athletic. The leones of Bilbao insisted in attack, looking for the winning goal, which seemed impossible. But in the injury time, a crossed ball by Germán was pushed into the net by José Mari with the chest, said the locals, and with the hand, said the ones of Vigo. The Galegos were very angry with the referee, protesting about the partiality, the penalties and the late goal.

In the second leg, played in the Estadio de Coya in Vigo under the rain, Athletic dominated the first half, enjoying the best chances. Sena, Germán and Jose Mari, the mids of Athletic, were the main reason of the dominance. Jose Mari advanced the Basques in the scoreboard, confirming this superiority. In the second half, the story changed and the speed of Vigo Sporting put into trouble the Basques, who presented a very conservative attitude to keep the result. Vigo enjoyed the best chances and Athletic was closed in their own box. At the end, the Basques resisted and Athletic won the game (0-1) and the right to play a new final. Vigo Sporting kept regretting the incidents of the first leg.

The final between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club was played in El Molinón, Sporting Gijón's stadium, in front of 10,000 fans, mainly Athletic fans, who took advantage of the short distance between both cities to travel in masses from Bilbao. In the first half, Athletic dominated the game and, especially in the first minutes, created more dangerous situations than Barcelona. These first minutes were marked by an event that exposed the lack of knowledge of the referee when it comes to apply the rules. Athletic got awarded with a penalty. Laca beated Ricardo Zamora, but the referee saw how Germán had entered in the box before the penalty was shot. Instead of repeating the penalty, the referee awarded Barcelona with a foul against Athletic for this action, deservedly protested by the Basques. In any case, the match continued and, despite the efforts of both teams, the game was mainly played in midfield and the result at half time was a 0-0.

In the second half, Jack Greenwell won the tactical battle to Billy Barnes, Athletic's coach. FC Barcelona rejected to play direct football and started to play on the ground, which showed to be more efficient, driven by a great Sanchón. In this situation, with a better Barcelona on the pitch, a crossed ball by Paulino Alcántara was kicked by the unmarked Vicente Martínez into the net in the minute 55. Since that moment, Athletic went on full attack, playing their best football in the afternoon, but the attempts of the Basques were denied by Zamora, the Barcelona defense and the posts again and again. When the game reached the minute 80, one of the few attacks of Barcelona after the first goal, fell in the feet of Alcántara, whose powerful shot meant the sentence of the game (2-0). The reports said that Athletic tried much more during the game, but Barcelona's football was more solid. With this title, FC Barcelona won their 4th Copa title in history and this generation of players started to build their legend.

Olympic Games - Antwerp 1920

Since its creation in 1913 and the affiliation to FIFA, the RFEF could not present any national team in an international tournament. After the end of the Great War, the Olympic Games 1920 at Anwerp were the first chance to do it. The RFEF named Paco Bru, former Internacional, Barcelona and Español player as the coach of the new Spanish national team. Paco Bru selected the following squad to represent Spain: Ricardo Zamora (FC Barcelona) and Agustin Eizaguirre (Real Sociedad), as goalkeepers; Mariano Arrate (Real Sociedad), Luis Otero (Vigo Sporting) and Pedro Vallana (Arenas Club) as defenders; Jose M. Belauste (Athletic Club), Sabino Bilbao (Athletic Club), Ramón Equiazábal (Real Unión), Silverio Izaguirre (Real Sociedad), Josep Samitier (FC Barcelona) and Agustín Sancho (FC Barcelona) as midfielders; Patricio Arbolaza (Real Unión), "Moncho" Gil (Vigo Sporting), Domingo Gomez-Acedo (Athletic Club), Rafael Moreno "Pichichi" (Athletic Club), Francisco Pagaza (Arenas Club), Félix Sesúmaga (FC Barcelona) and Joaquin Vázquez (Racing Ferrol) as forwards.

In the previous round, the first game of the history of the Spanish NT, Spain met Denmark. The game was competed by the two sides, but Patricio, Real Union's striker, won the game for the Spanish team with a goal in the minute 54, in the second half.

In the Quarter finals, Spain had to face Belgium, the local team, in front of 18,000 fans at the Olympic stadium. This time, the Spanish team was clearly surpassed by the Belgian team, who were clearly superior. Coppee advanced the local team very soon in the game (11') and the 1-0 was the result at half time. In the second half, two early goals of Coppee (52' and 55') ended with the hopes of the Spanish team. Arrata scored the honor goal in the minute 60, in a penalty kick, for a final 3-1.

The format of the competition was strange. The four semifinalist would fight for the gold medal, which was finally won by Belgium, while the teams that had fallen in the Quarter finals would play a consolation tournament for the silver and bronze medal against the semifinalists and the runner-up.

So, in the fight for the silver and bronze medals, Spain met Sweden. In this game, the Swedish team got the lead with a goal scored by Dahl in the first half, being the 0-1 the result after 45 minutes. In the second half, the legend of the Furia roja (Red fury) was written. The reports say that Spain played with heart and there was a phrase that passed to the history of the Spanish football. Supposedly, the Spanish player José María Belauste screamed at his teammate Sabino Bilbao the famous words "¡A mi el pelotón, Sabino, que los arroyo!" (Sabino, the ball to me, I'll roll over them!), before Sabino passed him the ball to tie the game. Only two minutes later, Acedo scored the 2nd goal for the Spanish team, who advanced to the next round.

Spain and Italy, who had defeated Norway, played for the right to play for a medal. The game was played in the Olympic stadium in front of 10,000 spectators. Spain was superior to the Italians and Félix Sesúmaga was the hero of the afternoon with the two goals, one in each half, for the 2-0 victory.

The silver medal final was played against the Netherlands in front of 14,000 fans in the same Olympic stadium. Both teams directly advanced to this final. Spain did not play the third round against the finalist of Czechoslovakia, since they had retired in the final before the final whistle and they had been disqualified. At the same time, in the other semifinal, France withdrew before the game against the Dutch. About the game, Sesúmaga appeared as one of the main stars of the tournament with an early goal, after 7 minutes. Before half time, the same Félix Sesúmaga scored the 2nd goal for the Spanish team, who made another step forward towards the silver medal. In the second half, Holland tried to balance the game, but the goal of Groosjohan in the minute 68 was rapidly responded by "Pichichi" who scored the 3rd goal for Spain, only 4 minutes later. The 3-1 was the final result. This silver medal was mythical for the Spanish football and the most important achievement of the Spanish team for decades.

Spanish team vs Belgium. Up from left to right: Belauste (did not play), Acedo, Zamora, Artola, Patricio, Arrate, Eguizabal, Vázquez, Sancho and the coach, Paco Bru. Down from left to right: Lemmel (assistant coach), Vallana and Pagaza

List of winners

Copa del Rey

1916 - Athletic Club
1917 - Madrid FC
1918 - Real Unión Irún
1919 - Arenas Club
1920 - FC Barcelona

Campionat de Catalunya

1916 - FC Barcelona
1917 - FC España
1918 - RCD Español
1919 - FC Barcelona
1920 - FC Barcelona

Campeonato de Madrid - Centro

1916 - Madrid FC
1917 - Madrid FC
1918 - Madrid FC
1919 - Racing Madrid
1920 - Madrid FC

Campeonato Norte - Vizcaya

1916 - Athletic Club
1917 - Arenas Club
1918 - Real Unión Irún
1919 - Arenas Club
1920 - Athletic Club

Campeonato de Guipuzcoa

1919 - Real Sociedad
1920 - Reaul Unión Irún

Campeonato de Galicia

1916 - Fortuna Vigo
1917 - Vigo Sporting
1918 - Fortuna Vigo
1919 - Vigo Sporting
1920 - Vigo Sporting

Copa de Andalucía

1916 - Español FC Cádiz
1917 - Sevilla FC
1918 - Recreativo Huelva
1919 - Sevilla FC
1920 - Sevilla FC

Campeonato Regional de Asturias

1917 - Sporting Gijón
1918 - Sporting Gijón
1919 - Sporting Gijón
1920 - Sporting Gijón

Campeonato Regional Levantino

1919 - CD Aguileño
1920 - Gimástica de Valencia and Cartagena did not play the final

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