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Real Betis 110 Year Anniversary: A Review

This week saw Real Betis celebrate their 110 year anniversary. With that, we at decide to mark the occasion by looking back on the past 110 years and attempt to condense an amazing history into a short article.

This will briefly cover; the origins of the club, why the green and white strips, their main successes and some other standout points.

Football was first introduced to the Andalusian city of Seville by the large British expatriate population in the city. The locals were quick to pick up on this new sport and created the club Sevilla FC in 1905, where they naturally played mainly against the British ex-pats in the area.

2 years later – due to the growing popularity of the sport – the club Sevilla Balompié was founded by a group of students where they initially played in blue shirts with white shorts.

In 1909, Sevilla FC suffered some internal conflict and a third team was created, when one of the members founded Betis FC. They became Real Betis FC in August of 1914 once royal patronage was granted by King Alfonso VIII.

In December of that year, Real Betis FC joined forces with Sevilla Balompie. The ‘Sevilla’ was dropped from the team name and thus, the modern name and team of Real Betis Balompie was formed.

Today’s club clearly recognise the students’ founding of ‘Sevilla Balompié’ in 1907 as the day of the clubs commencement, due to the celebrations of the 110 year anniversary this week.

As mentioned, the team initially played in blue shirts with white shorts. This was changed to green and black vertical stripes until 1920 when they permanently changed to the green and white stripes the Verdiblancos are now renowned for.

The main reason behind this change was down to another club synonymous with green and white kits; Celtic. The Glasgow team donated one of their kits to one of the founders of Real Betis. In order to have their own stamp on the kit, Betis changed from hoops back to their vertical stripes, but maintained the colours.

Real Betis grew in popularity in the proceeding years and entered into La Liga for the first time in the 1932/33 season. In 1935, they won their first and only La Liga title where they overcame Real Madrid to the title on the final day of the season.

This league champion’s team was headed by Barcelona legend Patrick O’Connell, better known in footballing circles as Paddy Don Patricio. Having had the distinction of being the first player from Ireland to play for Man United, O’Connell also moved into management which lead him to Real Betis. There, he won their first and only league title. After that, he became manager of Barcelona and was partially responsible for saving the club, as his side toured Mexico, thus raising enough funds to eradicate the clubs debt.

The years proceeding O’Connell’s time in Seville were marred with the Spanish Civil War, which resulted in the mass reduction of club members due to the fighting between the republicans and nationalists.

After the Civil War had subsided, Betis sought to re-join La Liga. Other clubs were either not willing, or not able to so, as a result Betis were immediately relegated to La Segunda. The Andalusian club struggled for years and endured a period of going up and down. They even ended up spending 7 years in the 3rd division at one stage. Upon promotion, Real Betis became the first club to win the title in Spain’s top 3 divisions.

Following this promotion, Manuel Ruiz Rodriguez, the club president at the time, stepped down and allowed Benito Villamarin to take his place. His name is familiar to a lot of people due to Real Betis’ stadium now being named after him. Villamarin bought the existing ground (Estadio Heliopolis) Betis were using in 1961 and is seen as a key point in the clubs history.

The period of the next 30 years from 1961-1991 saw the club achieve stability and even ended up winning Copa del Rey in 1977 after beating Athletic Bilbao in the final. It took 21 penalties following a 2-2 draw to win but each Betico packed into the Vicente Calderon was delighted.

Come 1992, the club endured a tumultuous time where financial tensions were at their peak for the club. The club decided to convert themselves into a Public Limited Sports Company in 1991, it was horrific timing as they suffered relegation at the end of the season.

Due to new league rules and regulations, the club was forced to raise 1,200 million pesetas. This is roughly converting into €7.2 million today, which is roughly the outlay paid for Ryad Boudebouz this summer; but in 1992, this was an alarming matter for the club and was twice the fee required of all other first and second division clubs.

The supporters of Real Betis pooled together and accumulated 1/3 of the fee required. The club also raised a further 100 million pesetas. The then vice president, Manuel Ruiz de Lopera obtained control of the majority of the stock with 680 million pesetas remaining to be paid. In doing so, he had to provide an economic guarantee and became the majority shareholder of the club.

Since then, the club has had its ups and downs, with the ‘ups’ ending with the club qualifying for European football and the downs resulting in the club being relegated to La Segunda.

One of these ‘ups’ came about in the 2004/05 season where Betis claimed their second Copa del Rey. Back in Madrid and the Vicente Calderon for the final, this time Real Betis put away their opponents Osasuna in extra time with youth graduate, Dani scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory.

Looking to today, Real Betis has accumulated one of their best squads in years and certainly appear to be on the cusp of another ‘up’. Below, are some standout stats of players over the 110 years of Real Betis Balompíe:

Most Appearances: José Ramón Esnaola, 456 games

Most Goals: Ruben Castro, 147 goals in 280 games

Biggest Transfer In: Denilson from Sao Paulo in 1998 €31.5 million

Biggest Transfer Out: Joaquin to Valencia in 2006 for €25 million

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