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20.10.2008 11:11

Barça and Basle: a lot in common

Manel Tomàs

Barça and FC Basle have historical ties which go back to when the two clubs were both founded at the end of the 19th century. However, the biggest link is the affection Barça fans have for Basle’s ground.

The first coincidence is obvious as it is in the clubs’ initials - FCB (FC Basle and FC Barcelona) –and maybe Joan Gamper chose Barça’s name to give it the same ones as his old side Basle. Moreover FC Basle was founded after an ad was placed in the ‘Nationalzeitung’ newspaper in the city on 12 November 1893, while the origins of Barça also lie in an ad Gamper put in Barcelona paper 'Los Deportes' on 22 October 1899 (the 109th anniversary is this Wednesday).

The Swiss, it has to be said, were quicker in getting things off the ground, as FC Basle came into existence three days after the ad appeared whereas Joan Gamper and his friends took a bit longer and didn’t found Barça until 29 November 1899. Gamper, incidentally, had become a member of FC Basle in 1896, thus donning blue and scarlet three years before founding Barça.

The puzzle of the club colours

GAMPER.jpgAnd of course another similarity is the scarlet and blue of the shirts of both teams, ‘rotblau’ as FC Basle fans say in German. One of the most reasonable theories is that Joan Gamper just took the colours of his ex-team when choosing Barça’s, but there is no documentary evidence for this and many other explanations abound.

In fact, it is quite likely that a number of factors come into play in the misty origins of Barça’s club colours. For instance, it seems possible that one of the founding members of the club used a red and blue pencil at the first meeting, and it was this that reminded Gamper of his time as an FC Basle player. Equally the black and scarlet of the badge of the Los Deportes association, the precursor of Barça, could also have called to mind the ‘rotblau’ of Basle. However, everything would seem to suggest that we will never know the real origin of Barça’s colours.

The Christmas 1916 games

1901.jpgThe first time FC Basle came to Barcelona was for the Christmas 1916 games, played on 24 and 25 December. The venue was the old ground in C/Indústria, and the first match was a 6,000 sell-out. Barça ran out winners 3 - 1, with goals from Garchitorena (2) and Hormeu.

On Christmas Day 1916, FC Basle got its revenge with a 1-3 victory, the home team’s goal being scored by Garchitorena.

Fairs Cup tie with city of Basle team

SAMARRETA_1899.jpgThe only precedent in European competition is really only half a precedent, as the last 16 tie in the 1958-59 Fairs Cup was between Barça and a team drawn from the two clubs in Basle, FC Basle and Concordia Basle. Even though nine of the players and the team’s coach Rudolf Strittich came from FC Basle, the side was not the same and even played entirely in white.

At any event, the first leg played on 12 November 1958 was Barça’s first game at the Saint Jakob Stadium, a ground that would later become a legend for Barça fans. That autumn the Catalans won the game 1-2 on a freezing cold day and in the pouring rain.

The second leg took place at Camp Nou on 6 January 1959, and an obviously superior Barça ran out easy winners by 5-2. Barcelona would go on to win that second edition of the Fairs Cup, thus holding on to the title they had won the season before.

The Cup Winners’ Cup

EUFxRIA_BASILEA_1979.JPGBut of course the biggest link between Barça and Basle is the Cup Winners’ Cup final played on 16 May 1979. Barça made up for the disappointment suffered ten years beforehand (see side text) and on the same ground beat Fortuna Dusseldorf by 4-3, thus winning their first Cup Winners’ Cup Final. Thirty thousand Barça fans travelled to Basle to see an epic encounter that went to extra-time and was won by a goal from Hansi Krankl.

Changes to the venue

AFICIONADOS_EN_BASILEA002.jpgOpened in 1954 for the World Cup in Switzerland, that legendary Saint Jakob Stadium was knocked down in 1998. Since 15 March 2001 the modern Saint Jakob Park has been on the same site and will be the venue for Wednesday’s clash. But there’s no doubt that for those who experienced the Cup Winners’ Cup triumph in 1979, the FC Basle-Barça game the day after tomorrow will bring back some sweet memories.
Barça and Basle: a lot in common
The disaster of 1969
All Barça fans associate the city of Basle with winning the Cup Winners’ Cup for the first time in 1979. What perhaps not so many recall is that the Saint Jakob Stadium was also the scene of the defeat of Barcelona on 21 May 1969 in the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup against Slovan Bratislava (2-3, goals by Zaldúa and Rexach). It was a game Barça really should have won, as they missed a large number of chances.

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