Siriwan Posted May 14, 2011 Share Posted May 14, 2011 Maybe you already know that, but there is an interesting story concerning the birth, history and (secondary) colours of one of the most successful clubs in Spain: Athletic de Bilbao. And it's quite interesting as it shows links with Blackburn of which any Rovers supporter can be proud of. Football came to Bilbao at the end of the XIX Century, brought by British sailors and workers. Bilbao was a very important steel manufacturer at the time, and has had a big British influence from centuries in the past (a commuter ferry links Bilbao with Plymouth), so the British sailors who disembarked at the city spent their time playing a relatively new (at least to the eyes of the locals) sport they called football. So Bilbao's youngsters took interest in the game and, with British assistance and that of Bilbao natives who went to study to the British Islands, a new club was formed in 1898: Athletic Club de Bilbao. For the locals, it was shortened simply as Athletic. It had British players in its first lineups, although in time started to field just Basque players, growing in its academy. The first kit was white, or white shirt and black shorts, because it was accesible to everyone. But when they wondered what colours should they wear from then on, they looked at their mentors, the British. And the club that was playing the best style then was no other that Blackburn Rovers. So from 1902 they wore blue and white halved shirts. This team was the first winner of the Spanish championship, in 1902. From 1902 to 1910, regularly one member of Athletic's staff went to Blackburn to buy new kits for Bilbao's team. And with those colours they won two more championships, in 1903 and 1904. Today's replica of that shirt In 1910, the representative that went to England couldn't reach Blackburn for inknown reasons. So being in Southampton he assumed the people in Bilbao wouldn't mind him buying the local club's kits instead. So from then on, Athletic de Bilbao fields red and white striped shirts and black shorts. But they didn't forget their origin, so as away kit they use to wear the Blackburn's colours. That's still true nowadays: There is still another link in Athletic de Bilbao's most successful coach: Fred Pentland. Pentland played for Blackburn Rovers from 1903 to 1906, scoring 9 goals in 51 appearances with the club. His seven goals at the end of the first season helped considerably to avoid relegation. Pentland playing for the Rovers After his retirement he became a coach and in 1922 joined Athletic de Bilbao. He started a revolution, changing the training methods, standarizing the procedures and making them professional. He coached the club in two stints, 1922-1925 and 1929-1933. Under his guidance Athletic won two La Liga championships (including an undefeated championship in 1929-30) and 5 Cups. He was the epythome of the British gentleman, with his umbrella, coat, cigar and bowler hat. His players in Bilbao had the habit of grabbing his hat after every championship won and shredding it. He surely had to buy a lot of hats. And under his guidance the club inflicted the most humiliating defeat to FC Barcelona: 12-1. Pentland (first on the right) with the team after winning his last title, the 1933 Cup. In 1959, three years before his death, Fred Pentland came back to Bilbao, for a hommage game between Athletic and Chelsea. It would have been great if the opposing team was Blackburn Rovers. The legendary coach at that game Last year the coach received another hommage before a game against his favourite rival, FC Barcelona. A statue was unveiled and Pentland's daughter, Angela Hilton, attended the game. Pentland's statue It is said that Athletic de Bilbao is the most "British" of the Liga's clubs, and I agree. It is so because of its traditional gamestyle, atmosphere, its heritage and also because of its stadium, San Mamés, nicknamed "The Cathedral", which is very similar to English stadiums, where the attendance is really close to the pitch, unlike most of Spain's stadiums. For all of these I'm very proud of being both an Athletic de Bilbao and Blackburn Rovers supporter, and I appreciate the links between the two of them. And I'm sorry if I made mistakes with my English, is very far from being perfect! Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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