Today's date, September 12th, is traditionally celebrated as the birthday of our favourite Spanish football club, so ¡Feliz Cumpleaños! everyone. Officially, the blessed event took place in late summer 1907, although as the name Real Betis Balompié didn't occur to anyone before 1914, the chronology perhaps needs explaining.
What happened in 1907 was that a group of students formed a new football club they called Sevilla Balompié - the latter word being literally "foot" + "ball" in Spanish - in direct opposition to the year-old Sevilla Fútbol Club, whose anglicised name they considered affected. Shortly afterwards, there was a schism within Sevilla FC - legend has it when directors refused to allow a lowly worker to play for the team - and dissenters launched a new, separate club called Betis Football Club. In 1914 an English businessmen known as Papa Jones suggested that the two groups of renegades, Sevilla Balompié and Betis FC, should merge, and with royal patronage granted at the same time, the Real Betis Balompié that exists to this day came into being (which will surely be worth a celebration or two next year). The green and white shirts were adopted around 1920 and the adjective "Bético" to describe someone affiliated with the club started being used in the late '20s.
Of course, it tells you all you need to know about football in Seville that the formation of Betis is celebrated not from the moment the current club strictly came into being but from the inauguration of the first anti-Sevilla FC faction. So, the rivalry - which was reportedly fierce from Day 1 - predates everything. Happy Birthday!
*Actually, it's more like 90-something glorious ones and a few decidedly less so, but still...
UPDATE: There's a lovely article celebrating the anniversary by writer (and old friend of this blog) Reyes Aguilar on the Beticismo.net website. The last three or four paragraphs read:
In Betis there's room for us all - supporters' clubs, season-ticket holders, fans who want to be and can't be, those who are near and those far away - we're all linked by a sentiment that is found at the end of Avenida de la Palmera but has no borders.
When I was a little girl someone told me Betis should be called "Your Majesty" and today, on your 106th anniversary, I can't think of a better way to congratulate you than by feeling my 13-striped heart beat strongly for that majesty.
To be Bético is one of the best things you can be in life, and so congratulations to all Béticos and let's feel the heartbeats of Her Majesty as a pride and a privilege.
My Betis has 106 years of history, but don't ask me to put this into words. So much history.