We tend to think of the Copa Del Rey as a purely Spanish affair, which probably sounds like the most obvious statement ever. This statement however is wrong, because nearly 100 years ago, two foreign teams were invited to play in the tournament and one of them actually won it.
The Copa Del Rey was founded in 1903 as an early form of championship tournament. The winners and runners-up of each of the regional leagues would have a chance to win the cup, which would cement their position as the best team in all of Spain. This model lasted until 1928 when a league format was adopted. However, before the switch was made, the Spanish decided to spice things up a bit, and hold one last special edition.
The regular Copa had already been held, with Real Union crowned as the winners. For the post-season tournament, Motherwell and Swansea received invitations to participate. The two British teams made the trip to Spain, where they were supposed to play each other in the semifinals. King Alfonso XIII had donated a special trophy, to be handed to the eventual winners and was in attendance for Motherwell’s 4-3 win over Swansea. After the game, when speaking to the press, he described the match as a “brilliant display of scientific football”.
Motherwell had their tickets to the final, where Real Madrid awaited. They would face their hosts in their own stadium, the Estadio Chamartín and the Los Blancos side received some extra players from other Spanish teams, in order to ensure a victory. Although Real were a far cry from the juggernaut we are used to seeing today, they had already won 5 Copa Del Rey trophies, in the tournament’s relatively short existence.
On the 17th of May 1927, the Steelmen defeated Real Madrid on home soil by 3 goals to 1 and received the special trophy. Another quirk of footballing history meant that Motherwell, along with Dundee and Dundee United would all win against Real in Madrid during the 1920s. The Scottish side decided to make even more hay in sunny Spain and headed over to Barcelona to take part in the Catalan Cup, which from what I can gather had a league format.
A 2-2 draw against Barcelona and a 1-0 win against Swansea meant that they added a second trophy to their suitcases before bidding farewell to their hosts and returning home to more rainy realms. As much as I hate to burst any bubbles, it has to be stated, that both trophies that Motherwell won in Spain are not listed in the official history books. However, even if they are officially viewed as friendly editions of the tournaments, the performance of the Scottish team is still one that warrants admiration.
By: Eduard Holdis / @He_Ftbl
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Bob Thomas / Popperfoto