Games between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are huge occasions. And the one at the Santiago Bernabéu on 15 February 1959 was no exception. Only this time it was game with a difference. For the first time ever, El Clásico (not that anyone called it that in those days) was broadcast live on Spanish TV.
Nowadays we can watch games from anywhere in the world on our mobile phones, and there are TV screens almost anywhere we look. But back then, television was a totally new phenomenon. TVE, the only channel at the time, had only started airing three years earlier and the vast majority of the population could never hope of owning a set of their own.
That’s partly because they were so expensive, and partly because there were none to buy anyway. Every single set in the city had been sold in anticipation of the big day, about 6,000 in total, doubling the number in the city.
It wasn’t the first time a football game had been shown in Spain. But it was the first time the signal reached as far as the Catalan capital.
Barça had not won the league for seven years while Madrid had won the first three editions of the European Cup. But after winning 4-0 at the spanking new Camp Nou stadium earlier in the season, there was a strong belief that the footballing tides were changing.
The chance to watch the action live from Madrid sent the city of Barcelona into a frenzy. Bars and restaurants charged handsome entrance fees to watch the game on their premises, and the lucky few that had a TV in their own home sent out invitations to guests to join them. Wherever there was a TV, there was a crowd.
All that was missing was the game. Infuriatingly, a technical issue meant that the entire first half was not shown. Luckily, nobody missed much. By all accounts it was one of the dullest, most uneventful games that Barça and Madrid ever played.
The problems got sorted out for the second half, but sadly for Barça fans, practically the only moment of action came when Jesús Herrera scored the only goal of the game to secure a 1-0 win for Madrid.
The good news, however, is that Barça did indeed go on to win not just the league but the cup as well.