Happy Birthday! 'Eleventy-One' Candles For Real Madrid

Real Madrid has turned a lucky 111 years old today!

On the subject of the team's Eleventy-first birthday (with apologies to Tolkien!) we should note that Madrid are record breakers in every respect! We've won 9 European Cups, 3 Intercontinental Cups, 2 UEFA Cups, 1 European Super Cup, 32 Spanish League Championships (Ligas), 18 Copas del Rey, 9 Spanish Super Cups, and 1 League Cup.

More is to come, no doubt!

The club was founded in a linen-shop (suitably bourgeois when one considers the club's sober and respectable image!) by two Catalan brothers, and was managed by an Englishman, Arthur Johnson, in an early sign of the club's cosmopolitanism and openness to foreign influence - a trait very much shared by the beautiful city it is based in and still a characteristic of our club. As it happens, Johnson once wrote up a pamphlet of advice to his players that sounded off on his four principles of football.

As recorded in Phil Ball's White Storm

The first - that each team should have a captain - is hardly radical stuff, but the second is quite interesting. He felt that ‘...players should always play in the same position, so that each comes to learn the position and tendencies of his colleagues'... ‘The system currently employed, whereby each player continually changes position is not FOOTBALL', the final word highlighted in the original by capitals. His third commandment was that the players should be more conscientious about running and fetching the ball when it went out of play so that the games could be reduced by ‘at least half an hour' and that there would consequently be ‘less smoking and idle chat'. Stern stuff. The fourth principle...that the players should pay more attention to the art of ‘COMBINATION' ...- a concept that he illustrates as comprising ‘...the passing of the ball back and forth between the players...'

An early critique of total football, apparently! The note on smoking is quite true. Real Madrid's early keepers kept sun chairs on the pitch to relax between saves.

It wasn't always smooth sailing. The club did occasionally go through trophy droughts, most particularly in the 1930s and 1940s.

But as Jorge Valdano said once in the middle of the first Galactico period: Madrid is like a Rolls Royce. Sometimes it spends a few years in the garage but polish it up, give it a nice coat of paint and an oil change and you have the classiest automobile on earth.

Happy birthday Madrid!

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