Spain's first football club was Sevilla, which was formed by British residents of Seville in 1890, ‘after a deal of talk and a limited consumption of small beer’.
The club initially arranged matches between its members (‘about half and half Spanish and British’) on Sunday mornings until getting out of bed became a problem.
Unlike those in Britain, Spanish footballers were not guaranteed a half-holiday on a Saturday afternoon. However, as Sevilla’s membership was mostly drawn from a few local manufacturing businesses, players were able to negotiate Saturday afternoons off for football.
Desperately seeking opposition, Sevilla wrote to the Huelva Recreation Club and requested that they raise a football team.
Huelva had been formed by a pair of Scottish doctors working at the Rio Tinto mines in the previous year, but the club hadn’t yet tried association football. Nevertheless, the challenge was accepted, and the first football match on Spanish soil took place at the Tablada Racecourse on 8 March 1890, in a heavy downpour of rain.
‘The players presented a motley appearance, all kinds of costumes being in requisition,’ reported a Sevilla club member. ‘Our left wing, never before having the honour of belonging to any athletic club, appeared on the scene in night dress, in the shape of a fantastically patterned suit of pyjamas.’ The hardy gaggle of around 140 spectators found great amusement in his outfit: ‘He was hailed with shouts of derisive laughter, and dubbed by the natives as Clown Yugles.’
Sevilla won the match 2-0, with the first goal scored by Ritson, and the second by pyjama man Yugles (‘unexpectedly by all, not less so by himself’).
A slap-up meal followed. ‘This being the first known football contest in the south of Spain, probably all of Spain, it was thought worthy of a special banquet,’ said the Sevilla member.
Sevilla is directly linked to the current Sevilla FC, which was officially founded in 1902. The English-style ‘FC’ indicates that the club was founded by British expats. Huelva Recreation Club is now known as Recreativo de Huelva.
This is an edited extract from The Victorian Football Miscellany by Paul Brown.