As early as the mid-19th century, traditional British sports such as cricket, polo and football were all being played in Seville. By the end of the century, football in particular had become an integral part of the city's Christmas celebrations. The fact that these British sports were able to gain a foothold there owed much to the large expatriate British community that had settled in the city. Seville’s prominence at that time as a major inland port, coupled with its proximity to Gibraltar, made it the perfect breeding ground for a football club to take root.
Founded in café
Exactly 130 years ago today, on 25 January 1890, a group of young men from Seville and the UK gathered in the Andalusian capital in an old café to mark the traditional Scottish celebration of Burns Night. That same evening, following a short debate, those gathered decided to found Sevilla FC amid beers and the raising of toasts.
Among the agreements made by the club’s founders on that historic evening, three were especially significant: the name of the club, the appointment of the first officials to manage it and the applicable rules of the game. In terms of the name, being the first club of its kind in the city and having been created for the sole practice of football, it was not difficult to agree on Sevilla Football Club. Its first officials were Scotsmen Edward Farquharson Johnston (President) and Hugh MacColl (Captain), as well as Seville native Isaias White Méndez (Secretary). Finally, it was agreed to play the game in accordance with the rules of Association Football and discard any of the practices of rugby football.
Historic first game
Just a few weeks later, on 25 February 1890, Isaias White sent a letter to Huelva Recreation Club to arrange a game. It would be the first football match played in Spain between two official clubs in accordance with the rules of Association Football. This historic meeting took place on 8 March 1890 at the grounds of the Tablada Hippodrome in Seville. The hosts won that match 2-0, and Sevilla’s Ritson went down in history as the author of the first goal in Spanish football. After this first meeting, the two teams went on to play each other with increasing regularity.
Early in the 20th century, Sevilla FC, like the other Spanish clubs formed around that time, applied to the province’s civil government to register their statutes - an administrative process that was completed on 14 October 1905. By that time, Spanish club members and players were beginning to feature more prominently than their British counterparts, although Johnston, the club's first president, continued to referee the biggest games in the area.
Andalusia’s eternal champion
Gradually, football became a sport for the masses throughout Spain. The first official regional championship was held in Andalusia after the founding of the Andalusian Football Association. The collective short passing game, which had been largely inherited from the club’s Scottish founders, was replaced by what came to be known as the Escuela Sevillista (Seville School of football). This subtle playing style won admirers throughout Spain and was instrumental in helping Sevilla win 18 of the 21 editions of the regional championship. It was thus that the club earned the nickname, the Eternal champions of Andalusia.
After the creation of the Spanish National League Championship, Sevilla FC remained one of the most prominent sporting clubs in Spain. Indeed, by the middle of the 20th century, they had won the national league once and the Spanish championship (the modern-day Copa del Rey) three times. However, the construction of the club's own stadium, the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuen, left them in financial difficulties in the second half of the 20th century and unable to reach their customary sporting heights for several decades. Particularly low points were the four relegations to the second tier of Spanish football that the club endured between 1969 and 2000, a period that yielded no trophies but nonetheless saw them participate in various European competitions.
Return of glory days and remarkable success
Since the start of 21st century, the club has again been basking in the splendour of regular silverware courtesy of five UEFA Cup/Europa League titles and two Copa del Rey wins. Because of their formidable record in the Europa League, including three titles in a row between 2014 and 2016, Sevilla are considered by many experts to be the ‘king of the Europa League’.
Today, 130 years after that historic Burns Night, Sevilla FC are one of the most successful clubs in Europe and still proud to bear of the name of the city in which they were founded on 25 January 1890.
Sevilla Fútbol Club, 1890–2020