The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Lyb­ster play gi­ant-killers

Her­itage: Am­a­teurs cel­e­brate links to Span­ish team that beat Real Madrid

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They play in the ex­otic An­dalu­cia re­gion of Spain and hold claim to be the old­est foot­ball team in the coun­try.

And now, the Re­cre­ativo de Huelva foot­ball club is cel­e­brat­ing its north roots by invit­ing a Caith­ness team out to Spain for a chal­lenge match.

“We’re am­a­teurs play­ing against a club which beat Real Madrid”

Ar­range­ments have been firmed up for Lyb­ster FC to fly to An­dalu­cia, home of the for­mer La Liga side founded 129 years ago by a fam­ily doc­tor from Lyb­ster.

The link is still cel­e­brated by the con­ti­nen­tal out­fit and their of­fi­cials are lin­ing up a series of com­mem­o­ra­tive and so­cial events around the match, due to take place on July 14.

A party of 50 play­ers, of­fi­cials and sup­port­ers from the Caith­ness Am­a­teur FA first di­vi­sion side are set to make the trip.

Alexan­der Mackay left his na­tive Lyb­ster to work as a med­i­cal of­fi­cer at a mine in Huelva. He and a col­league ini­tially set up a recre­ation club for mine work­ers be­fore found­ing the club, pop­u­larly known as Re­cre, in 1889.

Af­ter early suc­cess in re­gional cups and be­com­ing the first Span­ish club to de­feat a Por­tuguese side, they played in the lower leagues be­fore winning pro­mo­tion to the top flight in the later 1970s.

Their hey­day was in 2006 when a 3-0 win at the home of Real Madrid was the high­light in an eighth placed fin­ish in La Liga.

Their for­tunes have since dipped on and off the park and they now play in Se­gunda Di­vi­sion B, the third tier of Span­ish foot­ball. A fi­nan­cial cri­sis al­most saw Re­cre go to the wall but of­fi­cials have ne­go­ti­ated a deal which will see the city coun­cil clear­ing its mil­lion euro debt and a com­pany buy­ing the club for one euro. Lyb­ster FC chair­man Don­ald Hen­der­son said prepa­ra­tions are well ad­vanced for the trip.

“It’s a bit sur­real,” said Mr Hen­der­son, who runs the vil­lage shop.

“We’re an am­a­teur club and will play in a sta­dium which has a ca­pac­ity of 21,000 against a club which at­tracts crowds of 5,000 to 6,000 and who not that so long ago were beat­ing Real Madrid in La Liga.

Mr Hen­der­son said Dr Mackay was known to have packed a leather foot­ball in his suit­case when he left for Spain.

As part of the com­mem­o­ra­tion, Lyb­ster are to have a replica glass foot­ball pro­duced and set in a pre­sen­ta­tion case re­sem­bling a suit­case to present to Re­cre.

 ??  ?? CHAL­LENGE MATCH: Keen am­a­teurs Lyb­ster FC are bound for An­dalu­cia in July to play Re­cre, founded by an ex-pat doc­tor from their vil­lage
CHAL­LENGE MATCH: Keen am­a­teurs Lyb­ster FC are bound for An­dalu­cia in July to play Re­cre, founded by an ex-pat doc­tor from their vil­lage
 ??  ?? Dr Alexan­der Mackay
Dr Alexan­der Mackay

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