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26.05.2010 11:09

Centenary of first Spanish Championship

Manel Tomàs

On Wednesday 26th May it’s exactly 100 years since Barca won its very first Spanish championship, beating Español de Madrid 3-2 in the final.

It was a brilliant end to an exceptional season but it could all have been so different.

Just a year or so earlier, the Club had been saved from extinction when Joan Gamper took over as Club president for the first time. By May 1910 the Club had accumulated more than 400 members – a respectable figure at that time - and had a loyal following of several thousand fans.

Barca’s first treble

1910.jpgIn footballing terms it was a great season and Barca won three official titles – Barca’s first ever treble! In the Catalan Championship, Barca won all 8 matches in the first round, scoring 46 goals and conceding a miserly 3. This show of strength frightened the opposition so much that the rest of the teams withdrew from the second round – something that would seem strange today but was not unknown at the time.

In the Copa de los Pirineos Orientales – the first international tournament the Club had ever taken part in, with teams from Catalonia, the Basque Country and France – Barca beat Olympique Cettois in France and went on to defeat Toulouse 2-1 in San Sebastian.

The changing face of football

1909-1910.jpgHowever, the most significant victory was in the Spanish Championship (now known as the Spanish (or King’s) Cup). This was the first of 25 victories in the competition making FC Barcelona the King of the Cups. It was Barca’s first Spain-wide title after coming close in 1902 and 1909. On 24th May, Barca beat Deportivo Coruña 5-0 in Madrid and two days later defeated Español de Madrid 3-2 in the final after trailing by 0-2. The winning goal came 5 minutes before full time and Español missed a penalty when the score line stood at 1-2.

The winning team that day consisted of Solà, Bru, Amechazurra, Arseni Comamala, Peris, Grau, Hornos, Pepe Rodríguez, Carlos Comamala, Percival Wallace and Carlos Wallace. Barca’s 3 goals were scored by Carlos Wallace, Pepe Rodríguez and Carlos Comamala, who described his winning third goal like this: “It was a counterattack and I headed a ball that had been pumped into the box. Two of us plus my brother went for the shot and it was all so quick that it ended up with 6 or 7 players involved and the ball in the back of the net. Football then was played at a frenetic almost incredible pace”.
Centenary of first Spanish Championship
An age of innocence?
The Barca players celebrated their win by sitting in a Madrid park, drinking wine and playing the guitar. On 28th May they arrived back in Barcelona and were received by thousands of enthusiastic fans, some of them who knew little or nothing about football but who were carried along by the euphoria of the moment. Among the crowd were the governing boards of FC Barcelona, the Catalan FA, a representative the Barcelona mayor and representatives from all the other Barcelona clubs. The only person missing was the manager – at that time the players organized themselves and the equivalent of the modern team manager was yet to emerge.

A few days later, on 10th July, the board, led by Club president Otto Gmelin, voted to celebrate the treble success with a banquet for 200 people in the La Terrasse restaurant. The event was full of memorable moments: Gamper awarded the players with the traditional champions caps while team captain, Bruno presented Gamper with a silver desk writing set, telling him: “This is a demonstration of the players’ feelings towards the person who is the soul of the Club”. Then all the players received a medal from the Barcelona City Council and to bring down the curtain on the party one of the players, Carles Comamala, entertained the guests with a rendition of some of the popular songs of the period, accompanied on the piano by his sister. It was a different world!

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