Summary of the 106 years of Real Betis Balompié


Summary of the 106 years of Real Betis Balompié

In 1907 a group of students studying medicine and preparing for a military career at a Polytechnic located on Calle Cervantes set up a football club called “Sevilla Balompié”. The group was comprised of many brothers: the Hermosa brothers, the Wesolowski brothers, the Castillo brothers, the Cascales brothers and the Gutiérez brothers who wore a white and blue kit. The first president was Alfonso de Castillo Ochoa and the first captain, who also trained the team, was Manuel Ramos Asencio in 1914. The clubs offices were located on Calle Alfonso XIII (1907-1909), on Federico de Castro (1910-1911) and on Jerónimo Hernández (1912-1914).

The name chosen by the youngsters, in an attempt to avoid the use of the Anglicism “football”, became intrinsically linked with the identity of the club: “Sevilla BALOMPIÉ” (during the initial months it was “España Balompié” wearing blue shirts and white shorts). The club was registered at the Government Offices on 1st February 1909.

Soon “Balompié” team became known after winning the first Seville Cup in 1910; they went on to reclaim the trophy in 1911, 1912 and 1915. They took part in the first Andalusia Cup at the beginning of 1910 and were invited to participate in the Spanish Cup but declined for economic reasons.

According to oral history, 1909 saw the founding of Betis Foot-ball Club as a break away from Sevilla Foot-ball Club. Eladio García de la Borbolla, until then a member of the board of directors of Sevilla Foot-ball Club, decided to leave and set up his own team. We should be cautions as to the veracity of this information as the first recorded match disputed by that Betis team occurred in 1910. A newspaper of the time commented on the “inexperience of the recently created team”. In this way Betis Foot-ball Club appeared on the scene with registered offices on Calle Mariscal (1909-1911) and on Federico de Castro (1912-1914).

In 1914 Balompié won the Seville Cup again and negotiations had initiated for a merger with Betis Foot-ball Club. Betis had been dissolved in 1913 only to be reformed the following year as a result of collaboration between José Gutiérrez, Eladio García de la Borbolla and Miguel Folgado amongst others. The decisive intervention of the Marques of Mochales obtained the royal distinction “Real” from Alfonso XIII.

On 6th December 1914 the board of directors of Sevilla Balompié approved the merger between the two clubs, Betis Foot-ball Club reciprocated two days later. The merger received vital support from Herbert Richard “Papá” Jones. In August 1915 Severo Núñez, the Governor of Seville, approved the statues and the new name of the resulting entity determining that “Sevilla” Balompié was to assume the denomination “Real Betis” Balompié (entry No. 283, page 36 of the Governmental Civil Register). Balompié provided the merger with players, trophies, and the playing field; which had been the “Campo de las Tablas Verdes” (the “Ground with the Green Boards”) since 1913 at various locations on the San Sebastian Meadow. On the other hand, Betis F.C. provided the distinction “Real”. The club continued to be known as “the Balompié” by the populace and their supporters were called “Balompedistas” right up until the 30s; from this time the club was referred to as “Betis” and the supporters “Béticos” and continue to be so to this day.

After winning the Seville Championship in 1915 Balompié initiated a decade of slow decline and came very close to disappearing from the football scene, lacking the financial wherewithal or the right to retain players in an era of “brown amateurism” or undercover professionals. Furthermore, the majority of the founding players were getting older and in a short period of time ten of their best players were “enticed away”. Nevertheless, they nearly won the Andalusian Championship on three occasions representing the only serious rivals for Sevilla F.C., fortified with players that had abandoned Balompié. In 1918 the Betis fans inaugurated the new Patronato Ground. Their peacock blue and white kit remained in use until about 1920 when, according to information available, they were substituted with the green and white strip.

In 1924 Balompié make a comeback with the return of a number of the original founders to the board of directors (Castillo, Wesolowski, Hermosa, Fernández, Zúñiga, Cascales,...). They win the Spencer Cup in 1926 and, after numerous runner-up positions they take the Andalusian Cup in 1928. When the National League was created Real Betis Balompié had achieved sporting, social and institutional consolidation and debuted in the second division on 17th February 1928 with their eyes set on promotion to the first division.

1930-1947: The Golden Age ad Collapse 

By the early 30s the terms “Betis” and “Béticos” had replaced “Balompié” and “Balompedistas” in everyday conversations. And that Betis, Betis Balompié, wrote some of their most brilliant historic episodes in those first five years of the decade. In less than ten months Betis became the first southern club to get to the final of the Spanish Cup, and by way of a silver jubilee celebration they were proclaimed second division champions on 3rd April 1932. Betis Balompié (without the “Real” during the Second Spanish Republic) was the first Andalusian club to ascend to the first division.

Now in the first division Betis became a nursery for talent and in the 1934-1935 season, under the management of Patrick O’Connell, the squad were proclaimed First Division Champions; Urquiaga, Areso, Aedo, Peral, Gómez, Larrinoa, Adolfo, Lecue, Unamuno, Timimi, Saro, Caballero, Rancel, Valera and Espinosa (6 Basques, 3 Canarians, 3 Sevillians and a player from Almeria). On 28th April 1935 an illustrious page was written in the history of Betis; Betis won 0-5 at Santander earning them the League title and, coinciding with a Saturday at the Seville Fair, celebrations took place at the fair ground where the news was written up on blackboards in the stands.

A year later, and true to the idiosyncrasy of the club, Betis plummeted from the peak to the abyss with the dismantling of the team of champions. This decline was provoked in the first instance by the poor economic situation following the departure of the President Antonio Moreno Sevillano forcing them to sell three players. Furthermore, 4 players were given the freedom to leave principally responding to natural turnover of players. The most devastating blow was the break out of the Spanish Civil War which left the club without players. Some were stranded north of the front and others conscripted to fight. Only Peral, Valera and Saro remained of those who had triumphantly lifted the Championship Cup in the final but fifteen months previously. The manager, O’Connell, left for FC Barcelona for 1935-1936 season.

The Civil War had devastating consequences for Betis, after which they mistakenly returned to the completion in the 1939-1940 season. They could have requested moratorium as did other clubs whose stadiums had been requisitioned for the purposes of the “war effort”. Consequently, on 28th April 1940, on the fifth anniversary of their league title, the green and whites were relegated to the second division.

Two years later they were again promoted to the First Division only to be relegated once more in 1943 not to return for the next fifteen years. Their downhill run culminated in that most feared of occurrences and in the same stadium that saw Betis proclaimed League Champions. On 13th April 1947 Real Betis Balompié lost 4-1 against Racing and descended to the Third Division.

1947-1958: The "manquepierda" years (even when losing)

It would be hard to understand what Betis is without mentioning the seven years they played in the Third Division, because it was during this time that the club and their fans discovered the motto that accompanies them to this day. For many authors the “soul” of the expression that kindled affection amongst all Spaniards in the 50s “¡Viva er Beti manqué pierda!” (Hurrah for Betis, even when losing!). The poet Joaquin Romero Murube describes those times, and that expression, as follows: “Betis achieved an unsinkable morale, unscathed by defeat. But instead of assuming that inexplicable resignation in response to so much adversity – unfortunately for us - we shrugged our shoulders instead of feeling elation in our hearts. After ceremonial sacrifice Betis charged onward every match-day afternoon with ever greater enthusiasm in search of the conquest and glory”.

Those were the years of omelette sandwiches, raffles and a completely flooded stadium when the river Tamarguillo broke its banks. Those were the years of Pascual Aparicio, Juan Petralanda, Manuel Ruiz Rodríguez, Alfonso Jaramillo, José María de la Concha, Manuel Simó and so many others.

Betis overcame those years with the support of the fans, who carried the club back into the Second Division in 1954, earning the reputation for filling the stadium and organising “green marches” to away matches. The years of economic adversity were behind them during which only a few had kept the club alive. Their experience in the Third Division strengthened the team extraordinarily in sociological terms; what is more, adding another singularity to their history, that of being the only team to hold titles of the First, Second and Third Divisions.

Following their promotion to the Second Division few doubted their return to the First Division sooner or later. Still four years went by, then, on 1st June 1958 Real Betis Balompié was once again a First Division team.

1958-1976: Light and Shadows

15 years on and Betis returned to the First Division; and they did so in style, winning their first official match 2-4 at their eternal rivals new stadium. After 15 desperate years teetering on the brink of disappearance the significance of that victory in a bipolar city made it a legendary derby.

1959 to 1964 was a bonanza time for the club; improvements were made to the stadium, electric floodlights were installed and the stadium became the property of the club. These years witnessed a modernisation of the management of the club and lifted Betis on to a higher plane previously unknown in the Betis world. Even Luis del Sol’s departure from the club was made up for by the arrival of Rogelio Sosa, two contemporary green and white legends who were joined by Rafael Gordillo towards the end of the 70s.

In sporting terms they were also years to remember, the club remained in the First Division achieving third place in the table in 1964, obtaining the Carranza Trophy and Betis’ first participation in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. Just two years later, and ever faithful to their motto, el club suffered with the departure of Benito Villamarín after 10 years of leadership, the tragic death of André Aranda and relegation to the Second Division. The first “Euro Betis” was succeeded by “Curro Betis” that, like the bullfighter Curro Romero, were able to put on legendary performances in the ring followed by unexpected disasters; consecutive promotions and relegations made Betis the classic “elevator team”: returning to the First Division in 1967, relegation in 1968, promotion in 1971, relegation in 1973, promotion in 1974...

Despite everything these years hold memories for many Betis fans: the arrival of José Nuñez to the presidency, completion of the covered members stand and the incorporation of men like Biosca, Esnaola and Cardeñosa.

1977-1992: The King's Cup and the 80s

On 25th June 1977 Betis raised the King’s Cup at the Vicente Calderon Stadium. Lead by Rafael Iriondo, Esnaola, Bizcocho, Biosca, Sabaté, Cobo, López, Alabanda, Cardeñosa, García Soriano, Megido, Benítez, Eulate y Del Pozo another well remembered chapter was written in the history of Betis following a 22 penalty shoot out. Betis was the last league champion prior to the Civil War (1935) and became the first Spanish Champion under the new denomination the King’s Cup (1977). In this way they closed the parenthesis around a period known as the worst years. That same year Betis reached the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup winners Cup having eliminated Milan; and true to their defining legend were relegated to the Second Division in the same season.

On their return to the First Division in 1979 they were accompanied by sporting achievements and “Euro Betis”. Classification for the UEFA Cup in 1982 and 1984, the celebration of their platinum jubilee in 1982 and being runners-up to the league title in 1986 made for happy years for the green and white supporters. These memories were made even sweeter by other events such as their stadium being a World Cup venue and more specifically the scene of the famous Spanish victory against Malta.

From that moment until 1992 Betis suffered both economic and sporting crises, again the club became an “elevator team” culminating in relegation in 1991. Clearly this was the worst moment to make the conversion to a Public Limited Sports Company. Now a Second Division club (and destined to remain there after losing the promotional eliminatory match against Deportivo) the Financial Recovery Plan forced Real Betis Balompié to raise share capital of just under 1,200 million Pesetas – twice that required of almost all other First and Second Division clubs.

In just over three months the Betis fans made small investments totalling 400 million Pesetas, which would have covered some 60% to 100% of the share capital demanded of other First and Second Division clubs. However, in this case it was insufficient. In addition to these 400 million Pesetas a further 100 million was raised through larger investment packages each in excess of 1% of the required share capital but still lacking 680 million and no interest from corporate investors or institutions on the horizon. On 30th June 1992 the Vice President for Finance Manuel Ruiz de Lopera obtains control of the majority of the stock of the Public Limited Sports Company.

1992-present: Real Betis Balompié, Public Limited Sports Company

Following reconversion into a Public Limited Sports Company Betis did not return to the First Division until Lorenzo Serra’s arrival as manager late in the 1993-94 season. Promotion obtained in Burgos in 1994 put an end to the Second Division years. The presence of the Mallorcan manager on the bench and blossoming television revenues gave Betis three years to remember. In the first season after promotion Betis became the divisions surprise package finishing third in the league table. They also finished in the top four in the 1996-97 season and reached the final of the King’s Cup losing to FC Barcelona in extra time. The players in that match were Jaro, Jaime, Vidakovic, Ríos, Merino (Ureña, 64) Alexis, Nadj (Olías, Finidi, Cañas (Pier, 71) Jarni, Alfonso, con goles béticos de Alfonso and Finidi.

Betis suffered a period of instability after Serra’s departure leading to relegation in 2000. They regained promotion the following season as sub champions of the Second Division and classified for the UEFA Cup with Juande Ramos on the bench for the 2001-02 season. However, a lack of continuity brought with it two mediocre years until Serra’s return. During his second stint on the bench 2005 became Betis’ year. The green and whites finished fourth in the league and won the 2004-05 King’s Cup at the Vicente Calderon Stadium beating CA Osasuna 2-1 (goals by Oliveira and Dani), with the following line-up:  Doblas, Melli, Rivas (Lembo, 78), Juanito, Luis Fernández, Arzu (Varela, 67), Marcos Assunçao, Joaquín, Fernando, Edu (Dani, 89) and Oliveira.

Two months later Betis becomes the first Andalusian club to qualify for the European Cup in the new Champions League format, eliminating AS Monaco who were sub champions in the 2004 competition. Betis contested the Group Stage against the defending champion Liverpool FC, the English Premier League champion Chelsea FC and Anderlecht from Belgium.

Returning down well-trodden paths present throughout the existence of the green and whites, a season of euphoria is followed by catastrophe. The team narrowly escapes relegation in the 2006-06 season and Serra’s contract is not renewed. The summer of 2006 sees the dawning of a recession unknown since the 1980s and institutional, social and sporting deterioration sets in, which coincides with Manuel Ruiz de Lopera being charged for involvement in corporate crime.

After three years barely maintaining their position in the First Division Betis is finally relegated to the Second Division on 31st May 2009. Fifteen days later 65,000 Betis fans demonstrate demanding changes on the board and the resignation of the principal shareholder. That day will become known as 15-J (15th July) a decisive demonstration marking club history. In parallel to these events legal investigations continued into the lawsuit presented against Manuel Ruiz de Lopera by three associations (Liga de Juristas Béticos, Por Nuestro Betis and Béticos por el Villamarín) for corporate crime. Judge Mercedes Alaya headed up the investigation.

Betis just misses out on promotion in the last match of the 2009-10 season and have to remain in the Second Division. Ruiz de Lopera tried to sell his stock in the company to an investment group lead by Luis Oliver but the investigating judge blocked the operation subsequently delegating the voting rights to a judicial panel.

The league already underway and the club in a very complicated economic situation Rafael Gordillo (new President) and José Antonio Bosch (Vice President substituting the deceased Juan Manuel Gómez Porrúa) and Luis Ruiz de Huidobro take over safeguarding the Farusa stock (belonging to Lopera).

After six months on the board the team is promoted to the First Division and Rafael Gordillo steps down from the presidency. He handed over the reins to Miguel Guillén Vallejo who was ratified at the general shareholders meeting held in June together with Pablo Gómez as Vice President. Since then during the first season Real Betis Balompié settled down well in the Liga BBVA (current denomination for the First Division); followed by a season in which the team qualified for the UEFA Europa League. The last three years of green and white success cannot be understood without participation of the manager Pepe Mel, able to get spectacular results counting on a large number of players from the second team.

The sporting success achieved in this latest stage of development has been characterised by professionalization and Real Betis Balompié moving on in all social, economic and footballing areas. The objective is to adapt a historic football club to the 21st century with only one premise, ensure that Real Betis Balompié in all its facets is on the same level as its unrivalled fan base.