Your BNA Stories: Sevilla Football Club – the Oldest Football Club in Spain, Founded in 1890 by British Residents

Posted on October 5th, 2012 by The British Newspaper Archive

We’re endlessly fascinated by the stories that people are finding in the British Newspaper Archive.

While most of the stories (so far!) that people have kindly sent in have been about family history, there are 100s of other history researchers rummaging around in the Archive.

Just recently, the History Department at Sevilla Football Club contacted the BNA to tell us about their amazing and historic discovery in the Archive.

So, if you much preferred the “working people’s ballet” back in the halcyon days when comedic dogs gambolled their way on to the pitch and folk could only gain entry to football matches if they were wearing a bunnet, then you’ll enjoy reading this excellent story.

One of the researchers in the football club’s History Department takes up the story…

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A treasure for football history, Sevilla Football Club’s act of constitution, has recently been discovered on the British Newspaper Archive by the club’s history department. It is on the Dundee Courier’s edition of 17 March 1890, where an article sent by the Spanish correspondent in Seville at that time relates the formation of the club. Though there were some pieces of evidence that suggested the possibility that the club had been formed in 1890, it has not been until now that we can assure that we are dealing with the oldest Spanish club specifically devoted to the practice of football.

According to the Dundee Courier correspondent’s article, which has been hidden for almost 123 years, the club duly was formed on 25 January 1890 by a group of young British residents in Seville. In order to make this constitution fully legal, they decided first to play under Association Rules, secondly to bear the word “Football” within its name and thirdly, to elect their “office bearers”.

photos of the founders of Sevilla football club

Image 1. Edward Farquarson Johnston (pictured left) and Hugh Maccoll (pictured right)

The reason why this important report was published in the Dundee Courier must probably be found in the fact that, at that time, tons and tons of Seville oranges were loaded on steamships, travelling from Seville to Dundee in order to be treated for the manufacture of our famous marmalade.

However, this connection between Seville and Dundee could even go further if we take into account that two of the members of the Sevilla Football Club at that time, D. Thomson and Robert Thomson, could be related to DC Thomson, founders of the Dundee Courier. We now know that D. Thomson played a match on Christmas 1890, while Robert Thomson acted as referee in different matches. Perhaps, one of them was the correspondent in Spain who sent the report to the Dundee Courier.

old newspaper article about the founding of Sevilla football club

Image 2. The historic article that contains the club’s Act of Constitution, and which states that the match in March 1890 between Sevilla and Huelva was played according to Association Rules’.

The Dundee Courier – Monday 17 March 1890
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000269/18900317/049/0004

As to the main office bearers, the club’s first president was the Scot Mr. Edward Farquharson Johnston (Elgin, 14 October 1854). He was the British vice-consul in Seville and co-proprietor of the firm MacAndrews & Co., ship-owners with commercial lines between Spain and UK, one of them being the transport of Seville oranges. Hugh Maccoll, another Scottish young man (Glasgow, 9 June 1861), a marine engineer who at that time had moved to Seville to work as the technical manager of Portilla White foundry, was their first captain.

One of Maccoll’s partners in the Portilla White foundry in Seville, Isaias White junior, was the club’s first secretary. He was the son of an English entrepreneur who founded the aforesaid company, one of the major foundries in Spain at the end of the 19th century.

In order to celebrate the foundation of the club, Isaias White sent a letter to a Recreation Club in Huelva to invite them to play a football match in Seville. That letter was published by the Spanish newspaper, now disappeared, La Provincia. Although Huelva Recreation had never played together a football match, they accepted the invitation and the match took place on 8 March 1890, being thus the first official match ever played in Spain. Sevilla Football Club won that historical match by 2 to 0, being the first goal in Spanish football history scored by the Sevilla player Ritson.

A few years later after the foundation of the club, at the turn of the century, the members of the Sevilla Football Club decided to entrust to one of the many steamships that at that time arrived to the Seville Port, red and white shirts to play football. It is thought that they could have wanted to use the same colours as Sunderland AFC, since Sevilla FC’s first captain, Hugh Maccoll, and Gilbert Reid Pollock, another founding member, resided there by that time, where they had established the company Maccoll & Pollock. However, this is not the only reminiscence they keep from their British origins, being the first coat they had very similar to those of the Scottish clans.

In 2007 Sevilla Football Club came back to the city where their first captain, Hugh Maccoll, was born to see how another captain, Javi Navarro, in a sort of tribute to the club’s origins, raised their second UEFA Cup. Next January, Sevilla Football Club, will be 123 years old, being thus the first Spanish football club ever founded.

Written by the History Department of Sevilla Football Club.