Almost 75 years before Athletic Bilbao would beat Manchester United, a team made up of Basque players who were just boys were winning matches at respect among the fans in Cardiff and throughout Wales. Joe Harrison shares this story with us in a marvelous article on the British soccer website The Two Unfortunates.
We have to admit that the story moved us. This is due in no small part to the fact that, as our regular readers must know, we are very sensitive to the topic of the Basque War Children, and the great sympathy and fondness this article is written with really touched us. We’ve discussed this sad episode in our history on many occasions, and also the solidarity the citizens of many parts of Europe, and of Great Britain in particular, showed those children who were fleeing from a new and especially cruel and brutal form of warfare the fascists were raining down on first the Basque Country, and then Europe.
Some of those children were taken in at Cambria House, in southern Wales, in the town of Caerleon, near Cardiff, the Welsh capital. They created a soccer team, made up of just young Basque boys, which won not only the respect of the other Welsh teams, but also many games.
This beautiful, moving, and emotional article by Joe Harrison covers all this, and the solidarity between people, societies, and cultures. It’s curious , and very satisfying, to read how a Basque boy thanked the Welsh miners in 1939 for their solidarity with them, and how in 2011, the Welsh co-ops that were created when many mines where those miners had work closed thanked the Mondragon Cooperative for helping them create the Welsh co-op system. It’s good to know how societies and work together directly without having to worry about the bureaucratic problems created by States.
We’ll leave you with this amazing article, and we promise to write a special one about the time those Basque War Children spent in southern Wales.
The Two Unfortunates – 19/11/2012 – Great Britain
The Basque Boys
Mention Basque football to a British fan and it’s likely that their first thought will be of Athletic Bilbao, the team famed for their ‘Basque only’ player recruitment policy and whose outstanding performance in defeating Manchester United last year brought them to the continent’s attention (though the less said about this season, the better). Those of a certain age may also recall the escapades of John Aldridge and John Toshack at the other competitor of the Basque Derby, Real Sociedad. Others may be aware of the existence of the Basque national side, a team without any FIFA or UEFA recognition but playing friendlies once or twice a year, such as against Wales in 2006. What most people don’t realise is that there were another team of Basques to play in Britain, nearly 75 years before Bielsa’s men stunned Old Trafford.