Picture in a newspaper of one of the goals scored by Betis.

HISTORY / The first time in the league

On the 20th of December of 1931, with three goals from García de la Puerta, Betis got their first win at Sevilla’s home ground in the national league

Por Manolo Rodríguez

The first time Betis won a league match at Sevilla's ground was just before the Christmas 1931, a crucial year in Spain's contemporary history. Both teams were in Second Division, but the Green and Whites were close to getting promoted. In this way, Betis became the first team from Seville to play in the Spanish top division.

Back then, the Club were in good shape in all senses. In sporting terms, the team became Copa runner-up that year (also the first time a team from the city reached a final) and had strengthen their position as an institution.

The coach was, since the previous season, Emilio Sempere and the squad has iconic players such as "Strong hands" Jesús, Andrés Aranda, Peral, Soladero and Enrique. That year, the team had incorporated a great talent, untameable, called Mariano García de la Puerta. Some said that he is the best striker ever in Spain. The only thing is that he used to do what he pleased.
Betis were creating great excitement and expectation in their fans and was sailing on in that republican Spain that was in the midst of so many tensions since its creation in April 1931.
In December of that year, the new Constitution had been approved, declaring the country as a "Democratic Republic of workers of all classes", also granting women the right to vote. And, regarding religion, always so present in Spain, a secular state was established, separating Church and State, and freedom of thought and religion.
In this environment came the Sevilla-Betis of that season. On the 20th of December of 1931, third match of the season. The Green and Whites had begun the season with a draw at Castellón (2-2) and a clear victory over Murcia (4-1) at home. The team was ranked second in the table with three points when they went to Old Nervión.
And, as it is usual in this kind of matches, the game arrived in the middle of a controversy. The day before the match, newspaper comment that "due to Betis nor Seville requesting a referee from another city complying with the regulations, the National Federation designated mister Medina. The news created great discomfort among the béticos."
The umpire was Luis Medina Toledo, a referee who was promoted the following year to the First Division and also started a prestigious saga of referees. Father of Luis Medina Diaz (who spent 16 seasons in the top division) and grandfather of Luis Medina Cantalejo, great referee at national and international level, chosen also for the 2006 World Cup.
It was widely said that Luis Medina Toledo was a Sevilla fan and many rumours were spread. However, the night before the game, a general meeting was held at the Club and chairman José Ignacio Mantecón explained that there is no reason to doubt the referee. He calms the board members down and asks for reason.
With an optimistic approach, Betis goes to the "excessively adverse field of their rivals," as ABC newspaper says. Cold evening and full house. The teams lined-up as follows:
Sevilla FC: Eizaguirre, Iglesias, Morán, Rey, Abad, Arroyo, Vantolrá, Ramón, Campanal, Bracero, Brand.
Betis: Jesús, Tenorio, Jesusín, Peral, Soladrero, Adolfo I, Timimi, Adolfo II, Vallina, García de la Puerta, Sanz.
The game is quite even in the first half. Sevilla opens the score through Bracero and Betis levels up through García de la Puerta following a rebound off the crossbar.
In the second half, Betis completely controls the match. The Green and White midfield overwhelms the rival and the wings are constantly attacking. Again, García de la Puerta scores the 1-2 and from that moment the match gets ugly. Some incidents started in the stands, and one of them brings the game to a temporary stop when some of the spectators invade the pitch.
In the 65th minute, Campanal ties for Sevilla. It's then when García de la Puerta's talent emerges and, ten minutes before the end, he scores the final 2-3.

The goal makes the home fans angry and awful scenes happen. This is how ABC told it: "Only a few minutes before the end of the match, a spectator throws a stone towards the group of players that were standing close to Betis goal, hitting Betis winger Peral in the head. He was treated by the doctors in the medical room but later entered the match again."

A great picture in Madrid's newspaper "Ahora" shows that dramatic moment in which Peral is taken off the pitch with his face covered in blood. Luckily, the incident was not as serious as it looked and even, as Mundo Deportivo described: "Peral was ovationed when he came back to play the final minutes."

That Green and White success at the field of the fiercest rival, the first one in the league, was intensely celebrated by the fans in the days prior to Christmas. There were reasons for it. From that moment, the season was sensational and Betis became champion of the division and got promoted. Sevilla finished second to last.

And the referee, Medina Toledo, who had been put in the spotlight in the previous days, put on a good performance.