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Past and present: Venables, Schuster, Messi and Kubal, four Barça icons / FCB

Today is the historic day for film buffs. October 21, 2015 is the day when Marty McFly, played by Michael J Fox in Robert Zemeckis’ hugely popular Back to the Future series, arrived in a world of flying cars, hoverboards and automatic shoelaces. To honour the occasion, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at what was happening at FC Barcelona on the other days that are visited in the trilogy.

26 October 1985

The ‘present day’ in the Back to The Future movies is October 1985. The soccer revolution had yet to hit the USA. So did the revolution in communication technologies. If anyone in Hill Valley knew anything at all about Barça, there was nothing on TV or in the newspapers, and certainly no Internet, to tell them how the team was doing.

In the UK, it was different. La Liga was suddenly something more than a list of scores in the small print just after the Beazer Homes League. And that was because Terry Venables had just completed his first season in charge by leading Barça to the Liga title for the first time since 1974. Even so, on October 26, there were just six reporters at El Tel’s pre-match press conference ahead of the game with Cádiz the next day. Barça were struggling in eleventh place, and the main talking point was absence of team’s leading goalscorer, the injured Steve Archibald.

Unlike the modern Barça, Venables’ team was more famed for its strength at the back, with Urruti in goal and the likes of Gerardo, Migueli and Julio Alberto in defence. The biggest name was Bernd Schuster, who would score the only goal as Barça beat Cádiz 1-0 the following day.

But the media were more focused on the first European Cup campaign for eleven years than events in the domestic championship. After squeezing past Sparta Prague on goal difference, Barça were now preparing for FC Porto. They’d go all the way to the final, which they lost to Steaua Bucharest on penalties – a memory that still haunts older fans.

5 November 1955

While Marty was battling to find his way back to 1985, while at the same time trying to shun the affections of his own mother and get her to fall in love with his father instead, on the other side of the Atlantic, FC Barcelona were sitting pretty at the top of La Liga after the first eight games. A week earlier, they had suffered their first defeat, 1-0 at Valladolid, but on the day that Marty’s Delorean arrived in 1955, FCB got back to their winning ways with a 3-1 victory at home to Sevilla.

For once, however, football was not the big talking point. Spaniard Galiana Díaz had just won the European featherweight crown in Paris, and the sports press seemed just as interested in hearing what the players had to say about the boxing as they had in the game with Sevilla!

[[DES_1]]Eduardo Manchón (2) and the great László Kubala scored the goals. Other legendary names in the side that day included Antoni Ramallets in goal, and the original Luis Suárez up front. Barça were still playing home fixtures at the old Les Corts stadium, although construction of the Camp Nou had started a year and a half earlier. It wouldn’t be ready to host its first game for another two years, in September 1957.

Later in the 1955/56 season, Barça would go on to win 10 games in a row, a record that wouldn’t be broken until 2005. But they still missed out on the league title, finishing one point behind Athletic Bilbao. The club was also about to embark on its first ever European adventure, the Inter Cities Fairs Cup. The first edition of the competition was spread out over four years, so it wouldn’t be until 1958 that Barça beat a London XI to claim its first continental trophy.

2 September 1885

What were FC Barcelona up to while Marty was preparing for a showdown at dawn with Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen? Nothing, because the club didn’t exist yet! Football was already big business in Great Britain, but it had yet to catch on in Spain, although the Recreation Club in Huelva was just a few years away from setting up what is regarded as the first proper club in the country.

In Barcelona, where the first stones of Andoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia were being put into place, football was only played by pockets of foreigners. In 1875, a letter to La Linterna de Gracia had described some weird English people and “a diversion using greater than regular size balls that they play almost every afternoon”. And they weren’t overly welcome. “Last Tuesday, one of the youngsters insulted, to the extent that punches were thrown, a young man who was watching them, just because he got too close to the pile of clothes they had taken off. We hope somebody does something about this.” Of course the English were annoyed! Those were the goal-posts!

From around about 1892, the British community started playing more serious games in the fields around the city. But it would not be until 1899, when a certain Swiss gentleman called Hans Gamper arrived in town, that things started to get more serious, and Football Club Barcelona was born.

How times have changed. Apart from one thing. They still haven’t finished building the Sagrada Familia!

And in 2015? Great Scott!

Hoverboards may never have become a reality but for Barça fans who watched the original Back to the Future II movie in 1989, when Leo Messi was just a mere two-year-old living in Cordoba, Argentina, the future has turned out better than their wildest fantasies. Back then, winning La Liga was a rare joy for the Blaugrana, but in 2015 the club won it for the fifth time in seven years. And fans were still dreaming of one day being crowned European champions, but in 2015 Barça would be celebrating an incredible fifth Champions League. And thanks to developments in global communications, it was not only Catalans that have been enjoying such success. Barça are the world leaders on social networks in a future that in many ways is more amazing than Robert Zemeckis predicted!

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