Formed by British workers on the railway line between Huelva and
the Rio Tinto copper mines in 1889, Recreativo de Huelva are Spain's
oldest football club. And yet much of their long history has gone by
virtually unnoticed, much like the city itself: the least remarkable of
Andalucia's provincial capitals, away from Spain, out towards Portugal
and almost entirely forgotten by everyone else.
Recreativo might be universally respected for their age, but they're
just as universally ignored: lacking a natural rival, with the rest of
Andalucia snarling in other directions, having won nothing and enjoying
just three stints in the Primera. The first lasted just one season, 1978/79; so did the second, in 2002/03.
On the latter occasion they were the
victims of an atrocious start to the season from which they could never
recover. But it wasn't just that. The locals also claimed the club was the victim of a bizarre curse
because Recre just could not score at the north end of their ground.
Adding weight to their theory, in the official photo of the ground the
north goal was missing. Spooky.
Curse or no curse, Recre's stability has
stood them in good stead and, with the First Division experience having
rekindled flagging interest, they maintained momentum and, after two near misses, went up again in 2006 – this time for three seasons, the first of which saw them finish just outside the European places. They're now back in Segunda, but looking upwards rather than down. Pity nobody's looking at them...
Recreativo moved from their crumbling Colombino stadium to the
imaginatively-named New Colombino in 2001. A smart out-of-town 20,000
stadium that has since hosted the Spanish national team and games in the 2009 Peace Cup, the Colombino
rarely fills, but is worth visiting for the museum, celebrating the
birthplace of Spanish football. You'll also find garlic, photos of the
Virgin Mary and scattered candles to overcome the curse of the north
Club address Plaza Houston, s/n 21003
Telephone (0034) 959 270 208
TOWN GUIDE: HUELVA
Though Huelva is one of the less appealing parts of Andalucia, it's
not without certain charms – particularly if you like marshes and
mosquitoes. There's always the Coto de Donana National Park, home to a
number of rare birds of prey and mongoose.
Avis, (0034) 954 537 861, Santa Justa train station.
Should you fancy a drink, they're almost giving wine away at Meson El
Lobito (c/La Rabida 31). Handy, with little else to see round these
SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT
Step back in time and take the Columbus Trail – (0034) 959 256 900 – a
guided tour of a number of places relevant to the life and adventures of
Romeria del Rocio (May) is a time of processions featuring a number of horse-drawn carriages. Yes, really.
For regular updates on the crazy world of Spanish football, see our blog La Liga Loca
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