By: Dahab ElKady
The second leg of Copa del Generalismo semi-final was a twisting action for Barca and Madrid’s relationship with two Spanish clubs with the most intense rivalry in Europe. The first leg was a huge slam for the Catalans as they stroke the Merengues with a 3-0 win at Les Corts (Camp Nou now). Accordingly, Madrid hit back with an 11-1 win, 8 goals during the first half and a ticket to the Copa final was already roughly, humiliatingly and historically booked for Madrid.
Usually, any story has a number of infinite sides and viewpoints. However, this one has been unbelievably arguable during the last era. Let’s put all Catalan, Basques and Merengue blood aside and take a look at what was found in the archives. Back in the old days of the rise of football, the game was basically linked to politics, cultural civilizations and was not a fun activity to do or watch. Furthermore, this particular game was in 1943 just before the civil war, led by General Francisco Franco, between the Republicans and the Nationalists.
The story behind the glory
Accordingly, a win against Madrid was like winning a battle in the civil war! As Barcelona ex Manager Terry Venables once said: “When we won the league, it was as if the Republican army was returning in triumph” (1). During the first leg, the boos and the loud whistles were all what a Madrid player could hear whenever they had the ball. They conceded the first two goals reportedly wrong, as they were playing in an awful ground.
A famous journalist back then named Ernesto Teus published an article that successfully got the players and fans all worked up. As a result, boiling fans in the second leg kept calling Barca players “Red separatists and dogs!” and throwing coins all over the pitch during the whole game (1) Luis Miró who retired after the game, for most parts of the game was too terrified of the spectators behind his goal to stand anywhere near his penalty box (2). As reportedly said by several players like Valle, Calvet and a lot more is that they got all this fear and or pressure from the words of the Director of State Security to the Barcelona dressing room as he said “Do not forget that some of you are only playing because of the generosity of the regime that has forgiven you for your lack of patriotism” (2). Although no clear threats were made but the scariest ones are not loudly uttered. And some people added that he had a gun so I guess this went too far and the story may just be a huge lie. However, Argila, the substitute goalkeeper, watched from the bench. He recalled the visit to the dressing room from a regime official, “a policeman, a lieutenant or an I-don’t-know-what from the Civil Guard,” but the memory that stuck with him more, lingering longer, was the noise: the thousands and thousands of whistles that Madrid’s fans had been handed, the pressure, the sense of intimidation (3). Players didn’t want to go back on the pitch for the second half. According to an interview Valle and Calvet gave to La Vanguardia in May 2000, a colonel appeared in the dressing room and said, “Go back out on to the pitch or you’re all going to jail” (1). Juano Samaranch a leading fascist journalist was banned from putting an ink ever on paper when writing about “The injustice result” (2).
After all Madrid lost the final game to Athletic Bilbao and remained 10 years during General Franco’s regime with no Liga trophies. The one sure thing we all know is that this game was the beginning of everything. As Fernando Argila said: “There was no rivalry. Not, at least, until that game” Whatever the truth behind this game, we are all thankful it happened as it opened a book in football’s history to the best Clasico in the world. Don’t forget to watch the game tonight, 13th of August, at 10:00 PM on ON Sport live!
(1) Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona vs Real Madrid by Sid Lowe
(2) 10 Football Matches that Changed the World by Jim Murphy
(3) ESPN Interview with Fernando Argila in 2015