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San Mames

 
How to get there ? P.° Rafael Moreno "Pitxitxi", s/n, Basurto-Zorroza, 48013 Bilbao, Biscay. Metro : San Mames
Tickets : https://www.athletic-club.eus/entradas
History : The San Mamés Stadium, home to Athletic Club, is an iconic landmark in Bilbao. The stadium's unique design and electric atmosphere during matchdays contribute to the club's popularity, drawing fans from across the city and beyond. It continues to be a central element of the city's sports and cultural life, embodying the spirit and pride of the Basque people. Whether attending a match, taking a tour, or exploring the museum, visitors to San Mamés can experience the passion and history that define this iconic venue.
 

A popular club


 
Athletic Club enjoys immense popularity in the city of Bilbao, where it is deeply ingrained in the local culture and identity. The club holds a special place in the hearts of Bilbao's residents, and its influence extends far beyond the realm of sports.
Athletic Club was founded in 1898, making it one of the oldest football clubs in Spain. Over the years, it has become a symbol of Bilbao's rich history and heritage. The club's longevity and tradition have helped it establish a strong connection with the city and its people. The club has enjoyed periods of success throughout its history, winning numerous domestic titles, including La Liga and the Copa del Rey. These achievements have helped solidify the club's status as one of the premier football clubs in Spain and have garnered widespread support from Bilbao's residents.
Athletic Club is actively involved in the community, engaging in various social and charitable initiatives. The club's outreach efforts, including youth development programs and community events, have further endeared it to the people of Bilbao.

 

A symbol of Basque Country


 
Basque formation : Athletic Club, based in Bilbao, Spain, has a unique tradition that sets it apart from most football clubs: the policy of only fielding Basque players. This policy has deep historical and cultural roots dating back to the club's foundation in 1898. This commitment to Basque players has been a defining feature of the club throughout its history. Despite facing challenges and criticisms, Athletic Club has remained steadfast in its dedication to this policy, which it sees as a way of preserving and promoting Basque culture and heritage.
Over the years, Athletic Club has produced many talented players who have gone on to achieve success both domestically and internationally. The club's emphasis on developing local talent has also helped foster a strong sense of community and loyalty among its supporters. While the policy of only fielding Basque players has sometimes been a subject of debate and controversy, it remains a central aspect of Athletic Club's identity and continues to shape the club's philosophy and approach to the game.


1976 Symbolic game : The 1976 match between Athletic Club and Real Sociedad is often referred to as the "Derbi Vasco" or the Basque Derby, given the longstanding rivalry between the two clubs. This particular match holds historical significance for several reasons. At that time, Spain was under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, who had suppressed regional identities and cultures, including those of the Basque Country. Football became one of the few arenas where Basque identity could be openly expressed and celebrated.

The 1976 Basque Derby was played in the midst of this political backdrop, and it symbolized more than just a football match. It represented a clash of ideologies and a display of Basque pride. Real Sociedad, based in San Sebastián, represented the province of Gipuzkoa, while Athletic Club, based in Bilbao, represented the province of Bizkaia. The match served as a platform for the expression of regional identity and solidarity among Basques. On April 4, 1976, Athletic Club and Real Sociedad faced each other at the San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao. The match ended in a 2-2 draw, with both teams putting on a fiercely competitive display. The atmosphere in the stadium was electric, with passionate fans from both sides cheering on their respective teams.
While the result of the match itself was significant, the 1976 Basque Derby is remembered more for the symbolism it carried during a tumultuous period in Spanish history. It demonstrated the resilience of Basque culture and identity in the face of oppression and served as a reminder of the power of sport to unite people and transcend political boundaries.



Fun stories
 
La Gabarra



The "La Gabarra" celebration is a legendary tradition associated with Athletic Club, particularly during their victorious moments in major competitions, notably the Copa del Rey. This tradition involves a vibrant boat parade along the Nervión River in Bilbao, where fans and players come together to celebrate the team's success.
The name "La Gabarra" translates to "The Barge" in English. It originated in 1983 when Athletic Club won the Copa del Rey, and the team celebrated their victory by parading along the river on a barge decorated with the team's colors and flags. Since then, "La Gabarra" has become an iconic symbol of Athletic Club's triumphs and a beloved tradition among fans.
During the celebration, thousands of supporters gather along the riverbanks, bridges, and balconies to cheer on the team as they sail past on the barge. Players and coaching staff proudly display the trophy, waving to fans and celebrating their success. The atmosphere is festive, with chants, songs, and fireworks adding to the excitement.
The Gabarra celebration is not only a moment of joy for the fans but also a way for the team to express gratitude to the city of Bilbao and its supporters for their unwavering loyalty and support. It symbolizes the strong bond between the club and its community, highlighting the significance of football as a unifying force in Basque culture.
Over the years, "La Gabarra" has become an iconic tradition associated with Athletic Club's triumphs, showcasing the club's rich history and its deep roots in the city of Bilbao. It remains a cherished tradition that embodies the spirit of celebration and camaraderie that defines Athletic Club and its fans.
In 2024, 40 years after the first one, Bilbao witness another "La Gabarra" celebration after Athletic Club win in the Copa del Rey vs Mallorca in the penalty shootout. A true popular celebration that gathered everyone in the city and a spectacular event that has been talked worldwide.

 
Anecdotes

 
  • Athletic Club has never been relegated in lower division.
  • Athletic Club fan's nickname is the "leones" to intimidate the opponent.
  • Asier Villalibre is famous for his trumpet skill, especially during Athletic Club's 2021 Supercopa victory.