The Real Betis
I am going to take you on a trip to Andalucía today.
Andalucía is the most southern region of Spain and was under Moorish rule for over 7 centuries. This Moorish influence can be seen in architecture all over the autonomous region. Andalucía for me is the quintessential Spain; the Spain I imagined before moving here. The contrast between North, South and Central Spain is unbelievable - not just in topography but in language, architecture, customs, even fashion. My first visit to Andalucía was Sevilla in early 2017, where I saw the magic of the southern region for the first time. Think flamenco, sangria, late nights drinking beer in the squares, rich colours and warm temperates - that's Andalucía (sensationalised yes, but to me - this is what it is).
Now, we arrive in Sevilla. One of the oldest cities of Spain and also my favourite city (a few pics above for your enjoyment). This city is the capital of Andalucía and home to two of La Liga's most famous clubs - Sevilla FC and Real Betis Balompié. This week is about Real Betis Balompié. After doing all my research on this team, they may have just become my favourite team in Spain. I wonder if you will feel the same.
Let's kick off. This is Real Betis. Quick facts: Real Betis is also known as the verdiblancos (the green and whites) as these are also the colours of the Andalucían flag (pictured).
The name Balompié is used in place of football club. This is because it quite literally means foot (pié) and ball (balon), and this word is used by Andalucíans' to say football. Cool, right?
Their stadium is Estadio Benito Villamarín (capacity of 60,720) A little team history.
The team was founded on the 12th of September 1907.
One consistent element throughout the team's history, is their fighting attitude. Even in their darkest times, Betis fans were infamous for showing up and exhibiting as much passion as winning teams. Their motto - ¡Viva el Betis manque (aunque) pierda! ("Long live Betis even when they lose!"), is an example of this 'never walk alone' attitude. Something that as a Liverpool fan, or a football fan in general, is admirable. We support our teams through wins and losses. Sometimes we ask ourselves why out of frustration, but we see it through and stick by our team, or at the very least, we should.
The Spanish Civil war was obviously a tumultuous time for the country, however in these years, Real Betis received their one and only top division title, taking out La Liga in 1935 under the management of Irish Coach Patrick O'Connell. Despite the win, they were back to seventh position the following year (a result of team dismantling and a poor economic situation) and this saw a steady decline of the team, as five years later they were again relegated to segunda división. This seems to be the Real Betis story.
Before we skip ahead, lets look at what happened between 1939 and now.
1955 - Betis' most famous (former) president takes over, Benito Villamarín. Under him, Betis returned to the top division 1958-59 and finished third in 1964. Benito resigns in 1965 and Betis are relegated to division two, until consolidating their place in La Liga almost 10 years later in 1974. 1974 - They win their first Copa del Rey title and Euros Qualification.
1992 - Betis is the subject of new league rules and regulations. The club had to find 1,200 million pesetas. They raise 400 million pesetas in three months - and Manuel Ruiz de Lopera (VP) steps in as a majority shareholder and the team avoid relegation... just.
11 September 1994 Real Betis played its 1,000th game in La Liga
1994-95 season - Betis return to the top under the management of Lorenzo Serra Ferrer
2012-13 - Betis finish seventh in La Liga and qualify for the 2013–14 UEFA Europa League, the first European qualification for the club since the 2005-6 UCL.
Interestingly, Quique Setien (the new coach of FC Barcelona in 2020) was managing Betis from 2017-19 on a three year deal, where a lot of changes were made. Spring 2017, the team underwent what was described as a 'spring cleaning' where 16 players moved on to allow for a new playing philosophy to come through. In addition, hiring of players like Marc Bartra was a sign of this new approach - they had to the appeal to hire a Spanish national player, who had played for FC Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund - this was previously unrealistic.
Today, Real Betis sit at 14th on the La Liga table and while this is not their best result, they have proven themselves to be contenders in Spanish football. I suppose the question is, with their tumultuous history and a motto like Viva el Betis manque (aunque) pierda! - is an eventual decline inevitable? I believe their history can tell you the answer to that question. Then again, is any team's continuous success ever guaranteed?
If you enjoyed this article, I highly recommend this mini documentary by COPA90. Once again, COPA90 have come through strong with excellent La Liga content. Disfruta!