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Team Spotlight: Racing Santander and their 1930 La Liga heartache

Only nine teams have ever won the La Liga division since its first season in 1928, with Real Madrid and Barcelona leading the way with 33 and 24 titles respectively.

Yet for many, it is agony of becoming runners-up and falling short of what would be an historical moment for the clubs, and Racing Santander finished level on points with winners Athletic Bilbao, but lost out on goal difference.

Their shortcomings are even more painful considering they have not placed as high since and now languish in the Segunda B division.

Consistency is key

Las Palmas, Real Zaragoza and Sporting Gijon are among other clubs to have finished second but not gone all the way, yet for Santander, an agonising defeat in their penultimate game ended their dreams of taking the title.

Back in the days when it was two points for a win and only 10 teams competing, Racing had started inconsistently, with an opening day victory over Europa followed by a 4-1 demolition at the hands of Espanyol.

The same scoreline, but this time in the Asturian club’s favour against Copa del Rey holders Athletic Bilbao before a draw against Barcelona saw them kick off a brilliant start.

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Still in contention

Yet, inconsistency continued to scupper their chances of going top, as Real Sociedad enjoyed eight wins in nine to take first.

Athletic gained revenge and then some with a 7-1 hammering over Santander in Round 12, and reached the summit in the following fixture.

Wins over Sociedad and Alaves, either side of a draw at Real Madrid, gave Racing hope they could still claim the title in only the third edition of the league.

The game that ended Racing Santander’s dreams

But their hopes came to a crushing end in the penultimate game of the season, as they left Real Unión in the Basque Country defeated.

The hosts had lost eight times and had just four wins to their name when they welcomed Santander. Yet, they raced out of the blocks, netting three times in the opening 18 minutes of the match.

Racing Santander, who played their home games at the old Estadio El Sardinero between 1913 and 1988, were left ruing a defeat in the penultimate game

Racing managed to pull the game level just before half-time in what had been an entertaining first period.

But agony came with four minutes to play as striker Santiago Urtizberea scored the winner that all-but mathematically ensured the visitors would not be winning the league that season.

Elusive top-flight title

With one game left and two points separating them and leaders Athletic Bilbao, Santander would have needed to win, the table toppers to lose and for there to be a 32-goal swing in their favour.

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A 4-1 victory was enough to secure second on goal difference ahead of Real Sociedad, Athletic lost out to Racing’s conquerors in the previous round and ensured three clubs finished on 22 points.

The champions had netted an incredible 73 goals during the season, including 27 from top scorer Bata, as they retained the title, going onto defend their Copa del Rey trophy two months later.

For Santander, they were in the second tier by 1940 and a division below four seasons after. In La Liga, they have only finished in the top five on three occasions since their near miss, the last coming 82 years ago.

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