A football match is never going to get very far if you haven’t got a ball. And anyone who has organised the game at amateur level will know that purchasing, storing, transporting, inflating and also replacing the things when they get kicked out of the ground can often be a constant headache.
But at a club like FC Barcelona you wouldn’t imagine such things to be a bit of issue. But this story did happen a very long time ago when footballs were a prized items that weren't always easy to find in the Catalan capital.
The date was 21 February 1904, not much more than four years after the club had been founded, and Barça were one of nine clubs contesting the very first edition of the Catalan Championship. The opposition that day at the old Carreterra de Horta ground was a club called Internacional.
In those days, the rule was that the home team should always have two suitable balls for use in the game, and the visitors were to bring one, just in case.
Balls in those days were nothing like the ones used today. They were rugged yet delicate, and prone to burst at the most inconvenient of times. Barça’s two balls had both gone pop before the first half was over, so they were going need to use Internacional’s instead.
Unfortunately, the visitors had failed to honour the rules and had turned up without a single ball of their own.
There was only one thing for it. A volunteer had to be sent legging it to the nearby field where the curiously named FC X were playing a game of their own.
FC X may have been the weakest team in the competition (for the time being at least, they would go to be one of the strongest teams of the era). But they did at least have balls, and thankfully had one that they were willing to loan.
So, Barça were able to finish the game, and although no-ball the incident bore no reflection on the result, they went on to lose 2-1. That a result that as good as put paid to their dwindling hopes of stopping Espanyol from winning the inaugural title.
Perhaps chancing their luck, Barça presented a formal appeal to the league committee, but Internacional escaped punishment.