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12.02.2009 10:24

Eighty years since league debut

Manel Tomàs

It was eighty years today that Barça played their first ever league game. It was on February 12, 1929 at the Sardinero against Racing Santander.

That first ever edition of the league lasted until June 30 1929 and Barça became the first winners after a close run-in with Real Madrid that wasn’t decided until the final day.

Two days later

The first day in league history was actually February 10, but Racing and Barça had to wait because the Cantabrians had their last qualification game to play on February 9 against Sevilla. Despite the historic nature of the fixture, very few spectators turned out at the Sardinero following heavy rain that had left the pitch almost unplayable. The home side was managed by Irishman Patrick O'Connell, who in 1935-38 would become Barça’s manager. Barça were then coached by a Catalan, Romà Forns, who had played for the club between 1903-13.

Barça dominate

The game provided end to end football, but the visitors clearly had the most skill and ended up winning through. There was no score at half time, and Racing tried to make their presence felt after the break, but Barça proved lethal on the counter attack. Thus in the 53rd minute Parera opened the scoring after latching onto the end of a Samitier though ball. Parera also scored the second shortly before the end following an error by goalkeeper Raba.

Missing stars

Barça were considered fair winners, for Racing had simply not been able to create goalscoring chances. And the Catalans also travelled without several key men including Walter, Piera, Guzmán, Arocha and Sastre, which meant Forns was forced to improvise and play striker Samitier in defence. But Sami's scientific approach to the game proved highly effective in the role, and he was instrumental in closing down the home attack.

After the game, the Barça players turned down the chance to visit the local press association and two Santander theatres, instead going to join the carnival celebrations. That Tuesday night they started their journey home by taking a train to San Sebastián, where they would not arrive until the following night.

Passionate championship

1928-29-DARRER-PARTIT-LLIGA_b.jpgHaving won at the Sardinero, Barça got off to a great start in the league, but things would soon take a turn for the worse. In the next game they lost 2-1 at home to Real Madrid at Les Corts and the poor results that followed led to the resignation of president Arcadi Balaguer on March 23, 1929.


PRIMERA-LLIGA_b.jpgHis successor, Tomàs Rosés, decided to replace manager Romà Forns with Englishman James Bellamy. Real Madrid had a seven-point lead on Barça, but the change of staff proved effective, and Barça won nine and drew two of their remaining eleven games. They ended up claiming the title on the very last day of the championship, finishing two points ahead of Real Madrid and five ahead of Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad. The win over Madrid at Chamartín (0-1) towards the end of the season proved to be the turning point in the first ever Spanish title chase.
Eighty years since league debut
The game
Santander, 12 February 1929.
Opening league fixture 1928/29
Campos de Sport del Sardinero.


Racing: Raba, Santiuste, Garcituaga, Torón, Baragaño, Larrinoa, Santi, Loredo, Óscar, Gómez Acebo and Amós.

FC Barcelona: Vidal, Saura, Samitier, Martí, Castillo, Obiols, Sagi, Arnau, Ramon, García and Parera.

Referee: Ramón Melcón.

Goals: 0-1, Parera (minute 53); 0-2, Parera (minute 87).

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