Michael Witty with Josep Maria Bartomeu and Jordi Cardoner at Camp Nou / GERMÁN PARGA-FCB

Michael Witty proudly remembers his grandfather Artur Witty (1878-1969), a key figure in the origins of FC Barcelona which today, on 29 November, celebrates its 116-year anniversary.

Witty was at Camp Nou on Saturday for Barça’s 4-0 win over Real Sociedad and praised the club’s recent managers: “I congratulate the club for the spirit of the squad that it has had since Guardiola, with Tito (Vilanova) and now with Luis Enrique”.

Michael's grandfather, Artur, played an important part in Barcelona’s early years. He made his debut on 24 December 1899 in a 3-1 win over FC Catala and formed part of the team which earned the club its first trophies: Copa Macaya in 1902, Copa Barcelona in 1903 and the Catalan Championship in the 1904/05 season. As a player, the Englishman wore the blaugrana jersey on 74 occasions between 1899 and 1905.

For him it was important to learn to lose and accept that, if you lost, it was because the opponent was better.

It was a time when football was completely amateur. “My grandfather spoke to me a lot about that time, how sport was becoming a business and how they had to pay for everything. He spoke a lot about Gamper as the spirit of the club. Thanks to him, everything could evolve. They were good friends and played golf with my father Fredrick who, in the ‘30s, was Catalan champion and also played for the national rugby team”.

Michael Witty, ponting to his grandfather's name who was a former FC Barcelona player and president.

He would listen to his grandfather telling him stories about the club’s early years, when FC Barcelona had  yet to become known as ‘Barça’: “The majority of its founders and first team players were from families who had arrived in Barcelona to create infrastructures, electricity, the railway. Many were engineers, working in the bank or in insurance. My grandfather was good friends with Gamper, and had a brother, Ernest Witty, who was also an FC Barcelona tennis player and the same year founded RCT Barcelona”.

“There are no words to explain how my grandfather would see today’s club. He would be unable to believe what Barça has become. He went to watch games at Les Corts but not to Camp Nou, he was very old and did not go there,” Michael explained.

“They were different times, and he never stopped believing that football was a sport. For him it was important to learn to lose and accept that, if you lost, it was because the opponent was better. If a player falls, he has to rise again, like Messi.”

Witty added that his grandfather would have been a big fan of the Argentine: “My grandfather would have liked Messi as an example of ‘fair play’, because he valued ‘fair play’ very highly. He would have definitely loved to have met Messi and the whole team.”

In 1903 Arthur Witty, who was labelled ‘Don Arturo', took over the presidency of the organization which he held for 746 days until 6 October 1905.

The Barça team of the 1900/01 season. Standing, from right to left: WITTY, REIG, MEYER, CABOT. Kneeling: LLOBET, WHIRDEKHER, VALDÉS. Sitting: PARSONS, STEINBERG, GAMPER, GREEN and CENARRO.

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