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BILBAO ATH.
SATURDAY, 17 NOVEMBER 2018

Origins

The name of Bilbao Athletic obeys to the will of making a tribute to one of the first two football teams that had Bilbao in the prehistory of this sport. In fact, when English people carried us the football, two were the groups of people from Bilbao who gathered to that style and they set up their respectives teams: Athletic Club, founded by the frequents to the Gymnasium Zamacois and the "Café García", and Bilbao Fútbol Club, organized about the closest sportsmen to the zone of Las Arenas.

The first years after the conflict lived in Spain between years 1936 and 1939 supposed the origin of a great many teams in Bizkaia, at the same time that Athletic Club was weakened by the events. The necessity of competiting in the Regional Championship, the slim guarantees that players offered that Athletic still had and a real prevention for safeguarding a name loved by the club, make that Athletic registered a team in that first competition of the postwar with the name of Bilbao Athletic. In this way, the name of Athletic Club was saved of any failure and that any another group "usurped" the name of Bilbao was prevented too.

When that objective was achieved and once that Arenas turned out to be the filial of Athletic, the players of Bilbao passed to increase the rows of Athletic and the team disappeared with that name. In the 64-65 season was when Athletic Club saw the necessity of having one filial team in which the youngest players learnt to play. At that time the idea of Bilbao Athletic was taken again and one team with this name was registered in the 2nd Regional, with Piru Gainza as coach.

The team achieved to be the champion rising to 1st Regional, but Piru Gainza was the person in charge of the first team and Rafa Iriondo took over. In the 65-66 season this team was the champion of 1st Regional and champion of amateurs of Vizcaya, rising to 3rd Division. In the 66-67 season the team was the champion of 3rd Division, but he was defeated in the phase of promotion against Badajoz. That same season the team was the Champion of Bizkaia of amateurs again, but he was eliminated in the national phase against Barcelona. In the 67-68 season Bilbao Athletic, did not clasificated for the phase of promotion after drawing to one goal in Portugalete in the last match of the season, when the team needed the victory for achieving the classification.

That same season, the team achieves the Championship of Bizkaia of amateurs again and later the team would proclaimed champion of Spain of this category. The 68-69 season was the first time that they rose to 2nd Division. Iriondo began the season in the bench, but he was demanded by the first team and he was replaced by Poli. The team won twenty-nine of the thirty-eight matches played and drawed six, this team was the champion of his group of 3rd Division. As champion of group he played against Ourense. He lost in the city of Ourense (2-1) and in San Mamés (0-1).

As the team did not promotion the ascent in the first phase, he had to promote with Alavés. The team won the first team in San Mamés (3-0), and he lost in Mendizorroza (1-0), achieving the promotion for the difference of goals. The line-up that achieves the promotion to 2nd Division was formed by: Santamaría, Cenitagoya, Beitia, Zarzosa, Arrue, Birichinaga, Díaz, Monreal, Zubiaga, Platas and Gonzalo.

The first season of Bilbao Athletic in 2nd Division is not good, and he goes back to descend to 3rd División, where he remains 7 seasons, after these seasons the team integrates into a new category, the 2nd B Division. In this category, Bilbao Athletic, forms players for his incorporating to the first team, but he transforms in quarry of coaches too, being the case of Javier Clemente the most important case, that after trainning the second team he began to direct Athletic, and he obtained two titles of League, one Spanish Cup, and one Supercup of Spain.

Second Division runner-up

At the same time that Athletic obtained the title of League 1st Division, Bilbao Athletic obtained the promotion to 2nd A Division, in a team plenty of players that later would give the jump to the first team, as Julio and Patxi Salinas, Genar Andrinua, Joseba Agirre... The next season is better yet. Bilbao Athletic, obtained the second place of 2nd Division, and Julio Salinas is proclaimed Pichichi of 2nd A Division, with 20 goals. This Bilbao Athletic, directed by José Angel Iríbar left a trace in the mind of all the fans of Bilbao.

Bilbao Athletic continues his trajectory for the 2nd Division, giving players to the first team, and forming many players too, that although they do not triumph in the first team of Athletic, they triumph in other teams of the 1st Division, as, Arteaga, Aspiazu, Pizo Gómez, and in this way an endless list of players formed in Lezama. Bilbao Athletic continues in 2nd A Division;, with the exception of the 87/88 season when the team goes down to 2nd B Division. Bilbao Athletic gets back to 2nd B División, and makes an extraordinary season, in which he obtained the ascent to the Silver Category again. Those are years, in which the proffesional football lives a great change, and during these years the team remains among the elite of the Spanish football.

The year 1992 is an importante year in the future of Bilbao Athletic. The Under-19 Division disappears, last step of Lezama's players, before giving the step to the second team, this change takes an advance of one year, in the ascent of players with projection to the second red and white team. Bilbao Athletic remains with great difficulty in the silver category, and he continues giving good players to the first team, as Julen Guerrero, Karanka, Oscar Vales, Mikel Kortina..., but everytime it was more difficult to remain in this category. The 95/96 season, with Manolo Sarabia as coach is the last one of Bilbao Athletic in 2nd A Division, and since then, he fights in the usually difficult 2nd B Division, trying year after year obtainig the promotion, a promotion that would let the younger values get experience, in a professional category, where each day the players' level increases. This is his challenge, although it should not forget, that the first objetive of Bilbao Athletic, is forming players for the first team.

Second Division B again

The 1996-97 season was one full of uncertainty, to such an extent that changes were made resulting in Carlos Terrazas being called on to substitute Manolo Sarabia. At the beginning, the matches were played in San Mamés because a new stand for members and fans was being constructed in Lezama.

The 1997-98 season, was a brilliant one for the team, they started off well and as of the seventh matchday round were among the top four teams in the league standings, resulting in an opportunity to go up to Second Division A. However, during the second half of the season the team did not achieve the expected results, which meant that they could not maintain their position on the ladder and thus could not be promoted, despite all the efforts made throughout the entire season.

The third season (1998-99) with Carlos Terrazas in charge was an inconsistent one, during the first half of the season the team were able to maintain their position in the top four which could have meant a promotion and, were even on top of the league ladder for several weeks. During the second half, however, things did not turn out as planned and the team lost up to nine matches, which meant they were no longer among the top four teams.

In the 1999-00 season José Luis Mendilibar took charge of the team. The season started off badly with only one win from nine matches. This situation caused the young players who had just joined the team after having played in the inferior ranks to lose their motivation somewhat. However, the results were to become more positive and, at the start of the second half of the season the team were able to reach the 4th position in the league standings. As time went on though, the team's game started to suffer as a result of losing several of its players who were called on to play for the premier team. All of this lead to the team dropping down to the middle positions in the standings which meant they could not be promoted.

A good start was made to the 2000-01 season with Edorta Murua as the team's new coach. The team were able to maintain their position among the top four giving them the option of being promoted the following season. However, during the home stretch and as leaders of the competition the unimaginable happened, the team had suffered a slump in form and only managed to win one match out of the remaining eight games, hence squandering their opportunity to go up a division once more.

Bilbao Athletic, with Carlos Terrazas on the bench again, just missed the opportunity of going up to Second A Division in the 2001-02 season, after finishing sixth. Throughout the season, the cubs were a permanent fixture at the top of the ladder, but with only three match days left, lost all hope of reaching the play off.

In the 2002-03 season, Ernesto Valverde was chosen as the team's new coach and the team were able to finish off their best season in years, having reached the play off that would have enabled them to be promoted to Second Division A. The Cubs finished the league competition fourth which was proof of the tremendous consistency that they had shown during the thirty eight matches played.

The Cubs started the 2003-04 season off with great expectations as a result of last season's achievement in reaching the play offs. Bearing this is mind; Edorta Murua had to work hard to make sure that the team remained calm, because on several occasions the team's inexperience had cost them dearly.

During the 2004-05 season, the team had a goal. The rojiblancos, lead by Edorta Murua, ended the season close to the top, however, a series of bad results at the beginning of the second half of the season prevented them from being in a position to be promoted.

Second B, more and more difficult

The past two seasons have been tough for Bilbao Athletic. Both Luis de la Fuente and Kike Liñero have suffered in order for the team to stay in the increasingly complicated Second B Division.

On a positive note and keeping the ultimate aim of our second team in mind, we should stress the integration of several players to the First Division Team like Markel Susaeta, Jon Vélez, who at the end of the season finds himself on loan to Hércules, and Aitor Ramos, not to mention Koikili Lertxundi, who was initially going to play in Second Division at the start of the last season, but his performance convinced Joaquín Caparrós so much so that he was included in the Premier Team.

Players such as Gaizka Bergara, Urko Arroyo, Raúl Fernández and Beñat Etxebarria have also played with the First Division Team from time to time.

Commendable season by Bilbao Athletic

Kike Liñero confronts his second season at the head of the rojiblanco affiliate. In addition to continuing to shape players and continue to provide for the first team when necessary, Bilbao Athletic has managed a more than commendable eleventh position, far from any predicament. The relegation of Real Valladolid B, Real Sociedad B and Deportivo B makes clear the difficulty that this category entails for an affiliate.

To emphasize, the settling of Etxeita in the Premier team, in addition to the debuts by Xabi Etxebarria, Ander Iturraspe, Adrien Goñi and Eneko Bóveda.

One more season, Basconia has served so that very young players have their first soccer experience in a complicated category. Peio Agirreroa has worked really hard with them all and the team has been halfway on the table all year to finally finish in seventh position.

2009-10 Luis de la Fuente faces his first test at the front of Bilbao Athletic after two seasons as a delegate of the premier team. It has not been an easy season. The team ends the season in fifteenth place, just two points over Sestao River. We must highlight the minutes played by Iñigo Pérez, Eneko Bóveda, Aketxe and Xabi Etxebarria with the premier team.

2010-11 Luis de la Fuente continues at the forefront of Bilbao Athletic, with the intention of playing a good role and the objective of forming players to supply the premier team. The same points as the previous season are achieved although there is some improvement in the classification. Aurtenetxe, Igor Martinez, and Ibai Gómez enjoyed some minutes with the premier team, and we must highlight Borja Ekiza, who debuted against Málaga on the 18th matchday and remained with the premier team until the end of the competition, having disputed a total of 21 matches.

2011-12 Cuco Ziganda arrives at Bilbao Athletic. After his experience in first division at the front of Osasuna and Xerez, Ziganda is back to the benches. With a very young squad, the team finishes eighth. Ibai makes his jump to the premier team where he remains permanently and we must also highlight the debuts in first division of Ramalho and Ruiz de Galarreta.

2012-13. It was a brilliant season for Ziganda’s team. After the 38 Liga matchdays the rojiblanco subsidiary finished in third position, behind Alavés and Eibar who obtained the ascent to Second A. Bilbao Athletic eliminated Levante B in the first elimination round to rise however they fell in the penalty shoot against Huracán of Valencia in the second.

2013-14. Cuco Ziganda is still at the head of Bilbao Athletic. As usually occurs, there are new faces in the squad but also the same desire to enthuse and work to shape players for the premier team, without forgetting to compete.

The team stood up to the circumstances at all times and reached the last matchday with the possibility of being among the top four and of disputing the play-off for promotion. The defeat in Leganes prevented it. One point separated our team from fourth place.

2014-15

This is Cuco Ziganda’s fourth season at the helm of Bilbao Athletic and, again, with a renewed squad, but with the same enthusiasm as always. The team began strong at home and had it more difficult gaining points away from Lezama; however, little by little it has moved up the table.

In addition, in the winter market he lost Kepa, who was transferred to Ponferrada and Iñaki Williams, who was recruited by Valverde for the premier squad.

Even so, the team held its own, in such a way that in the last match in Huesca it could have attained the victory and finish group champion, but only a goal by those from Huesca four minutes from the end prevented it.

Classified for the play-offs for promotion, teams like Villanovense began to fall -a tough rival, but one that with patience, conviction and effort until the very last minute- left San Mamés eliminated with all merits. Later it was UCAM Murcia’s turn; they only just lost in La Catedral and Ziganda’s men made this victory count by achieving a hard-earned draw in Murcia.

Only the last step was left and the rival was Cadiz. Our team defeated the team from Cadiz by two goals to nil in a phenomenal match and in the visit to the Ramon de Carranza, in a terrible morning to play football, Bilbao Athletic held its own in spite of the early goal by Cadiz and even in the last minute achieved the equalizer that gave the deserved prize to the cub’s extraordinary season. Bilbao Athletic earned the promotion to Liga Adelante and would be the only affiliate in the category the following season.

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