The book ‘Románticos Sportmans’ by José Miguel Ortega claims that it was “the Canterac estate where the Scots played in the 19th century. They were the first football matches in Valladolid and, most likely, Spain.” But just what came of this club?
In the midst of the city of Valladolid, the de facto capital of Castile and Léon and once residence of the kings of Castile, around 20 minutes from the Campo Grande train station and behind a school named after Pablo Picasso, you’ll find a stadium called the Finca de Canterac. With the ability to host 2,000 spectators, it is the home ground of team called Betis.
Of course, not the Real Betis as discussed in this blog, but CD Betis Club de Fútbol de Valladolid.
Most people would agree that sevillistas and béticos getting together is beyond unthinkable – which makes it remarkable when they do. In 1942, a team formed two years previously by a group of students in Valladolid, called the Antiguos Alumnos, would play a team of students made up of both halves of Seville. After the match, both teams, or dare I say all three teams, decided to merge together and form a combined team, in doing so borrowing the name and familiar green and white kit of Real Betis.
The cruelty of CD Betis Club’s existence is the fact that la liga scouts are coming to the 2,000 capacity stadium, to a club that barely has 150 members, whose sporting glory is having played two seasons in the tercera, the fourth division of Spanish football. Despite the dizzy heights of the tercera, the club to this day are a perennial, mid-table, fifth division side.
The scouts visit a club whose whole history, since it was founded in 1942, has involved borrowing.
It borrows a la liga club’s kit, name, nickname – los verdiblancos – and club badge. The artifact that defines it is the banner that Real Betis Balompié gave them to commemorate their century. The stadium is just part of a piece of land separated from the rest by a step. Yes, a step. Even the name of the stadium is borrowed from a historic garden belonging to Juan Carlos I.
Oh, and if you’re ever visiting Valladolid you can borrow the stadium anytime by booking it online.
Which is a shame – it is the second most historical club in the city of Valladolid, behind Real Valladolid of course. It’s youth teams are some of the best in the country – the Juvenil A reached the first division of youth football (División de Honor) in 2008. And the Finca de Canterac, a poorly lit, poorly maintained stadium, home to a generally poor club, has produced some not-so-poor players.
There are players such as Sergio Escudero (Getafe, Sevilla) and Héctor Hernández (Zaragoza, Real Sociedad) playing for la liga sides, who first came from CD Betis CF. Not to mention other players such as Aguilar, Geñupi, Cantero, Pereira, Iván Zarandona, David Martín and Diego Torres. In fact, Real Murcia still owe CD Betis €300,000 when they sold Escudero to Schalke seven years ago – for which they were disallowed from making any signings last summer.
Another shame is that Nemesio Gómez, the person who made Betis CF a nurturing school of talent and worked at the club for 30 years until his death last year, claimed that the excellent relationship between Betis CF and Real Betis was strained under Lopera.
What is even more of a shame is that Gómez claims that Sevilla has communicated more with the club than Betis. Even now, as Getafe scouts, such as Toni Muñoz, frequent the club, Betis CF have repeatedly offered their services to Real Betis, albeit to no replies.
But the fact that the club exists is a testament to the reach of béticos around Spain in the early half of the 20th century. There is proof in Madrid too of Betis’ early reach, where in 1931 Betis fans formed a club called CD Betis San Isidro; unfortunately it doesn’t have the same appeal or well-oiled youth system.
It is a testament to the belief of football fans too – choosing between a top three la liga side and a segunda side, albeit a primera title winner, they decided to choose the latter. And it is a testament to the work of Nemesio Gómez, someone who single-handedly made Betis CF one of the most attractive youth academies in Spain.
And while claims such as the one made by Ortega can be flooded with counterclaims, especially by many Andalusian clubs, one can only dream about the irony that the birthplace of Spanish football is owned by a club based in Valladolid, whose history is dependent on a club from Andalucia, whose origins are disputed by two rival clubs in Seville.