Chapter 8 – Penya Gol de Baix: the penya of Joan Gamper

As we have seen in previous chapters, Barça supporters’ clubs already existed and were very active in the 1920s. A very illustrative example of this can be found in 1927 with the Penya Gol de Baix, which organised this peculiar “friendly game” on the morning of the same day that a match was played in Les Corts between Sants and FC Barcelona.

It is curious that this poster was created during the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, when Barça had been forced to withdraw the Catalan language from all notifications. It is clear that this penya cared little about government regulations and, without fear of anything, published the poster in the language of the country. The second striking element is the satirical tone of the text, which seems more like a mockery of a supposed rival than the information of a minimally serious match.

Another curiosity is the fact that the line-up of the penya’s team includes a “Gamper” , who in those days could be none other than Joan Gamper , who had long since returned from exile and was still in the shadows after being condemned to be banned for life from holding any position. And to complete the curious poster, it turns out that in the end it was not advertising a match, but a nice lunch. Just read the last line, which is a declaration of intent: “If it rains we can postpone the match, but what will not be postponed is the lunch”.

What was really behind this poster? A criticism? Of whom?

Was the word “inter-sidral” on the poster significant of the situation in Catalonia in the midst of the Dictatorship? Or was it against the board of FC Barcelona which, presided over by the monarchist Arcadi Balaguer, had demanded that Gamper pay for his tribune of honour?

In reference to the quotation marks applied to “our” Torre del Sol pitch, it is very likely that it is not talking about any football pitch, but rather the tower of one of them where they were going to grill the meat and feast afterwards. It is more than evident that this penya became Gamper’s place of refuge; they were Joan Gamper’s friends. And the definitive proof comes on the day of their 31st anniversary celebration, just four months after Gamper’s death. Then, the members of the Penya Gol de Baix, accompanied by their ever-faithful friend father Lluis Sabater, better known as “Pare Lletuga”, went to Montjuic cemetery to pay tribute to him and lay a wreath of flowers for their friend.