(Re)discover the history of the Blaugranas, through the most symbolic elements of FC Barcelona, and the help of Manel Tomás, historian for the club
In modern football, lots and lots of supporters are living in the past, dreaming of another glorious era for their club and players. Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, AC Milan, Ajax, Marseille... The list goes on and on, getting larger as time goes by. On the other side of the football map, there are clubs that keep on making history, season after season, creating new memories and beating records. And there probably isn't any better example than the one of FC Barcelona. Even if Barça fans have shared the same pain as their counterparts from the above mentioned clubs, they are now overwhelmed with titles and a magnificent game. Every new season is more difficult than the previous one, and keeping that level is what makes of Barça arguably the best club in the world at the moment.
Yet, it is not the most recent one, and if successes are what make Barça's history now, there is a whole universe that goes back to more than a century ago, when the club was created. Because history is not just about winning, it is about understanding how a team was formed, how it evolved, and what was the origin of everything we know about the Blaugranas nowadays. For that reason, Weloba invite you to go back in time and get to know the FC Barcelona a bit better, because although the club is among the most famous on the planet, his past isn't necessarily.
To help us provide you with this time-travelling journey, we had the help of Manel Tomás, historian for Barça and full-time memory machine. In this article we will talk about the very origins of the creation of FC Barcelona, the main point without which Messi, Neymar, Suárez, Piqué, Iniesta and Busquets would be playing for another club, if playing at all. So, how did it all start?
Joan Gamper: the pioneer
Anyone who knows about Barça knows about Joan Gamper, for one simple reason, he is at the foundation of it all. Member of the Swiss Army, young Joan Gamper came to Barcelona in the very late 19th century to learn Spanish in order to prepare his expedition with the army in Equatorial Guinea. Except in stayed in Catalonia, in love with the environment and the city. He therefore decided to establish himself there. One of his favourites was football, a sport relatively unknown in Catalonia at that time, which made it hard for him to find where to play.
"Theoritically, he was only passing by, explained Mr Tomás. But for some reason he decided to stay. Obviously, being a 21-year-old, he wanted to keep practising sports. He did a lot of sports besides football, in Switzerland and in France. He was an athlete, a cyclist, he liked golf... Football in Barcelona was almost unknown. He contacted members of foreign legions who liked football and he organised improvised football games in Sant-Gervasi, his neighbourhood."
But Gamper needed more than just a few games once in a while, he liked things to have a structure, and he decided to act and get things moving.
A gym and a journal
Gamper started using his contacts to build up a team and tried to find a place to practice and play games. It was not as easy as it seems now, and he has to persevere in order to finally achieve his goal.
"At first, he contacted a gym, the Tolosa gym, he spoke with the responsibles but they refused his idea", told Manel Tómas. "They also wanted to build a football team but they wanted it to be composed by Spanish players only. Gamper being Swiss, was excluded. The alternative was the Soler gym, just next to the other one. They were sharing their headquarters with the journal 'Los Deportes'. The owner of the Soler gymnasium said there was no problem, and then Gamper went on to publish the ad."
Joan Gamper made the mest of this cohabitation between the journal and the gymnasium, using the newspaper 'Los Deportes' to make an announcement and look for players to join his club. He published it in October the 22nd of 1899. Within a month, he had a complete team and was able to found the club, on November the 29th of 1899. Alongside him, 6 Spanish players, 2 other Swiss, 2 Englishmen and a German player, all members of the first ever Board.
As he was aged 21, the fun fact about Barça's first president is that it was Gamper's Swiss friend Walter Wild. "The Spanish Law at that time forbid to any people under 23 to be owners or presidents of a private company", explained Tómas. The Soler Gym was therefore the first headquarters of the Blaugranas, and remained so until 1910. FC Barcelona was born.