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FC Barcelona celebrate one of the goals in the first leg / PHOTO: ARXIU FCB

This Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of a historic date in the Club’s history when the roller hockey team won FC Barcelona’s first European Cup on July 7th 1973.

Ironically, twelve years after the football team had seen their hopes of a first European Cup dashed by Benfica in Berne, the roller hockey side took some revenge by beating the Portuguese – who curiously had a keeper called Ramalhets - in the final to finally bring a European Cup to the Club.

Section takes the limelight after years of struggle

Looking back, it is clear that the win was the result of a determined commitment to the sections from the then President Agustí Montal who opened the Palau Blaugrana in 1971. Until then, the roller hockey team had been in a rather precarious position – playing at the Palau d’Esports de Barcelona and they had only won two Catalan championships and three Spanish Championships. Alongside the President’s contribution, it was coach Josep Lorente, who took over in 1970 , whose great psychological insight helped him take the team to a total of 10 European Cups.

Brave Barça fear no one

In the 1972/73 semi-finals, Barça had beaten the Swiss team Rolls Sport 19-8 on aggregate, whilst Benfica had seen off Reus Deportiu – who had won the Spanish league eight years on the run and also taken six European Cups- 7-4,

The Portuguese team’s win showed Benfica’s class and with a star studded team including the outstanding Antonio Livramento, they were a real challenge for Barça, who themselves had a well balanced squad with a winning mentality including Pons, Chércoles, Villacorta, Riera, Vila, Brasal and Centell to form a compact block who were unafraid of anyone.

Exciting final

In the first leg at the Palau on July 1st, Barça won 5-3, after Benfica had taken a 0-2 lead early on. Lorente’s team fought back though, with Jordi Villacorta getting three goals and took a two goal advantage to Lisbon.

The return game was played on July 7th on a packed court with an electric atmosphere. Barça, playing in white, controlled the game and managed their two goal lead, only going behind at the start of the match – 1-0 and 2-1 before taking a 5-7 lead before Benfica pulled back to 7-7. Finally, Livramento’s great performance and three goals weren’t enough for the Portuguese team with Chércoles (4), Villacorta (2) and Vila scoring for Barça to give the Club their first European Cup – with 18 more following.

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