Images of a match held on 20 April 1904, originally published in the magazine Arte y Sport. SUR

Malaga city's first football match, played on this day 120 years ago

It was staged between two local teams on a slightly sloping esplanade overlooking the sea, in what is now the Plaza del General Torrijos, and ended in a 1-1 draw

Pedro Luis Alonso


Wednesday, 3 April 2024, 16:12


While it is difficult to establish an exact date that is widely accepted for the birth of football, it is often cited as 26 October 1863, when the Football Association was founded, with Arthur Pember as its first president. Today the FA Cup (Spain's equivalent is the Copa del Rey) is the oldest existing tournament, and the British spread their passion to other countries. However, in Italy they claim the invention of the so-called 'calcio florentino', which originated in the 16th century but is more closely linked to rugby.

It was through Huelva, with employees of the mining company that explored the natural riches of Rio Tinto, that the sport came to Spain, hence Recreativo is the dean of national football (founded in 1889). Malaga was the second Andalusian provincial capital in which an example of the playing of the beautiful game can be traced, in 1904. It was followed by Seville (1907), Cadiz (1908) and Almeria (1909), as the sport mainly became popular in Spain from the south.

Today marks the 120th anniversary of the first match in Malaga city. It took place on 3 April 1904, Easter Sunday, on a pitch laid out perpendicular to the sea, on a piece of land in the current Plaza del General Torrijos. This improvised field was months later filled in to place it flush with the wall of the Muelle Viejo, which can be seen in the photos.

Malaga Football Club

Antonio López, better known as 'Mister López', was a vital part of the origins. The Malaga Football Club was created after several meetings at the Liceo de Malaga. At the time it received little attention. The first players played in the bullring of the Plaza de Toros, to familiarise themselves with the rules, but that first match, was not there, but in "a space recently reclaimed from the sea", as Malaga historian linked to the club's foundation, Domingo Muñoz, said.

El Cardo, a Madrid magazine, announced the creation of the Malaga Football Club in March or April, but we had to wait until Easter Sunday. Chairs were brought from the main Alameda, which was pedestrianised, added Muñoz and, although the fact there were three thousand fans is surprising, one of the photographs of the time shows the expectation in front of the Cuartel de Levante (now disappeared from the La Coracha area) and the industrial chimney that still remains (enclosed by blocks) of the now defunct Malaga Electricity Company.

The chronicles of the time said that Emilio Andersen's team, which also included Ricardo Gross, Manuel Campuzano, Wisman, Sánchez, Carbón, Salvador Arias, Rodríguez, Leonardo Campuzano (captain), Matías Arias and Federico Cañas, won 2-0 against the team featuring Eduardo Guille, Enrique García de Toledo, Eugenio Rosillo, Cañas, Castro, Ernesto Rittwagen, Pepe Bernard, Bueno, Eduardo España, Manolo Arias and Antonio López. But not at the first hurdle...

"According to a report in La Unión Mercantil, there was provision for the presentation of sashes to the winning team by "distinguished ladies". There were hardly any references to the match. However, in Arte y Sport, on 20 April 1904, Guillermo Rittwagen, a brother of one of those who played, wrote that the match ended in a 1-1 draw and that on 10 April, the following Sunday, the play-off match was played, and that the A team won 2-0", pointed out Muñoz, who explained this was the "presentation of football to Malaga society, but everything indicates that it was played much earlier, perhaps as far back as 1890". Muñoz has confirmed that the Huelva cricket society played against similar teams from Malaga, Seville and Gibraltar. "Football was known to people of the bourgeois class who sent their children to study in Switzerland and England, and probably through English ships arriving at the Port."

Imported material and shirts from Gibraltar

As a curiosity, that first match in Malaga was organised by Eulogio Vives, who "crammed" the regulations and imported material and shirts from Gibraltar. It was precisely against the crew of an English ship, the Xarifa, when the first international match was played in the city, with a local victory by 8-4, and with most of the players being the aforementioned names.

Three snapshots of that match, the two below signed by D. L. Martínez for the magazine Arte y Sport of 20 April 1904, and the top one is from the book Historia del fútbol malagueño, but without author SUR

Los Baños del Carmen, the first venue, in August 1922

Málaga Football Club's appearance in an official competition didn't come until 1921, after registering with the Andalusian Football Federation (dating back to 1915) and starting to play regular matches at the Baños del Carmen beach pitch, which was inaugurated on 23 August 1922, with an 11-1 victory over Real España de Granada. The location was chosen due to the fact that the manager of the complex in those years was Enrique García de Toledo (who played in the 1904 match).

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