Chapter 12 – The letters of the Penya “All i Oli” in 1929

The Penya All i Oli was a supporters’ club based in Barcelona that had a football team and was mainly dedicated to playing matches and organising some events. But they were also people who knew a lot about diplomacy: before asking the FC Barcelona board for something, they sent polite letters to open the doors to a second one where they went straight to the point with the request.

On 27 November 1929, they sent congratulations for having won the Catalan Championship. Just the day after, they received a reply of thanks, showing great affection on the part of the board. So far, nothing to say; it seemed that the way to the subsequent petition was open… or perhaps not.

Petition for a tribute to Emili Walter

In view of so much affection and gratitude, on 9 December they went directly “on the attack”, asking to dedicate a tribute to the brilliant defender Emili Walter. He was a German who arrived in Figueres for work in 1921, and who, after excelling in the team from the capital of the Empordà, was signed by Gamper and became an emblematic player in the Barça of the Golden Age for many years.

On 14 December 1929 (here the reply took a little longer), the FC Barcelona board responded to the supporters’ club using terms that today would not seem strange at all. n their petition, the penya asked for the presence of Emili Walter to organise the recognition he deserved after seven seasons shining in the first team. A player of whom they said that “when Walter kicked, the air shook”. A sort of Koeman, to be explicit.

The Club’s response

In the reply there is nothing to frighten us, but there is a heading that, unintentionally and almost a century later, informs us of the sections that FC Barcelona had at the time: football, athletics, rugby, hockey, basketball, cycling and tennis. In other words: Barça already had seven sections in the 1930s. In addition, it also includes the important titles won by the Club in its 30-year history: Catalan Championship, Spanish Championship and Pyrenees Cup.

Returning to the content of the letter, it reads as follows:

Mr. President of the Penya Alioli
Dear Sir:
We acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 9th of the current month in which you inform us of the tribute you are planning in honour of our team member, Mr. Emili Walter.
As this is an act of distinction to a single member of our team, despite being a model of sportsmanship and pundonor, we cannot officially associate ourselves with you.
However, we hope that you will be kind enough to provide us with the details and precisions that you announce to us, in case we need to make any attentive observation.
We would be pleased to take this opportunity to reiterate our affectionate regards and best wishes to you.
Signed: Miquel Zapater

Document contributed by Josep Maldonado

In other words, if they wanted to contact Walter directly, that’s up to them! But no official club participation, nothing at all, lest Samitier, Piera or Sastre get angry. The famous excuse of globalisation to deny individuality, as always.

A first Head of Penyes in the Club?

The president of FC Barcelona at the time was Tomàs Rosés, and it should be noted that the letter was not signed by the Club’s secretary, Joan Baptista Roca Cavall, nor by the vice-president, nor by any of the leading figures. Everything suggests that Miquel Zapater Pascual, a board member of whom very little is known, was the person in charge of attending to the supporters’ clubs, or at least attending to the social area. This leads us to the certainty that there were not just four or five penyes, but many more and with an activity worthy of dedicating a member of the Board of Directors to their attention.

It should be added that, a year and a half later, FC Barcelona organised a tribute match to Emil Walter in Les Corts, when a serious injury caused by a tackle retired him from football for good.

Text extracted from the book  "Ambaixades: La Història de les Penyes" by Salva Torres.