Rivals by country: SCOTLAND AND WALES
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Rivals by country: SCOTLAND AND WALES

Athletic Club has faced five Scottish clubs and two Welsh clubs throughout its history, the first of them was Dundee FC, today , 97 years ago

Rivals by country: SCOTLAND AND WALES
Rivals by country: SCOTLAND AND WALES
May 20, 2020

Today 97 ago, 20 May, 1923, Athletic Club faced for the first time a Scottish club, it was Dundee FC, a rival that, after two consecutive matches played at San Mamés, the chronicles of the time described as ‘a team that, surely, none of those who have stepped on our field will surpass’ (El Nervión), ‘leaving us an great taste in our mouths’ (Gaceta del Norte). The Scots won 3-0 and drew 1-1. Both matches were played a week after the red-and-white Acedo and Rivero end up with the habit of breaking the bowler hat of Mr. Pentland after winning a final, in this case against Europe by 1-0 in the field of Las Corts de Barcelona. Precisely, the matches against Dundee FC were held for the benefit of the English coach as a bonus for the cup achieved. Previously, at the turn of the century, Athletic had faced teams made up of crew members from the merchant ships that docked in Bilbao. There is evidence of at least one such clash against Scottish sailors that was held at Lamiako on 5 December 1909, in which the lions won 8-0.

Dundee FC is the first team of a list of five Scottish opponents we have faced in 12 different matches, five of which were European qualifiers, and seven of which were friendly matches.

Overall, Athletic have won five matches, drawn two clashes and was defeated five times.

European competitions

Athletic Club has faced Scottish clubs twice as part of the direct qualifying rounds of UEFA Cup. At that time, the Cup was known as the Fairs Cup and Athletic Club went through the first round but got defeated in the second round.

• The 1964/65 season Fairs Cup headed Athletic to face its first official Scottish rival, Dunfermline Athletic FC. On the website of this club that currently plays in the second division of his country, the Scottish Championship, an extensive article is devoted to the clash of the second round and its labelled in the section of Memorable Matches. The play-off required a third play-off match, after both teams won 1-0 at home. A coin flip determined the final match to be played at San Mamés, with the lions winning 2-1, a goal scored by a very young Fidel Uriarte (20 years old) just five minutes from the end of the match.

Orue and the Dunfermline Athletic FC captain at San Mamés.

• Once again, in the Fairs Cup of the 68/69 season, Athletic faced another Scottish club, the Rangers FC of Glasgow, in the quarter-finals of the competition. The play-offs were set for judgement at Ibrox Park, 4-1 in favour of the Teddy Bears, with San Mamés falling short with a 2-0 scoreboard. Athletic deserved better and had the tie in their pocket, but the lack of goal and a heavy defeat in the first leg proved led to a negative result. Rangers were defeated in the semi-finals against other long-standing European rivals of Athletic Club, Newcastle United, who would ultimately go through the round and win the tournament.

The Ragers FC at their game at San Mamés.

• Curiously, it seems worth mentioning that Sir Alex Ferguson, legend of the Manchester United, was a member of the Dunfermline and Rangers squads that played against Athletic. He played the first two matches with the Pars, missing the play-offs. He played within Rangers the first leg and scored the first goal. Sir Alex Ferguson would face the lions again, and as a master of the red devils, against Bielsa’s Athletic

Friendly matches and OCM award given to Billy McNeill

Motherwell in 1927 (3-1 win) and 1960 (3-2 defeat), Rangers again in 1974 (1-0 defeat), and Celtic (0-0) at San Mames in 2011 complete the list of friendly matches against Scottish clubs that Dundee inaugurated in 1923. Athletic Club’s affinity with Celtic and the One Club Man award given to one of their legends, Billy McNeill (Rest in peace, Cesar), in 2019 are also worth mentioning.


Athletic Club has faced two Welsh clubs throughout history, and on 22 May, the day after tomorrow, it will be 93 years since the first clash, which was played against Swansea City (the so called Swansea Town) in 1927. The match was played at San Mames and the Welsh defeated us by 2-1. A member of the English Football League, the former red-and-white player, Fernando Llorente, was a player of the Swansea team that managed to stay in the final rounds of the 2016/17 Premier. He is currently playing in the second English division, the Football League Championship.

Swansea City teams line-up at San Mamés.

The other big Welsh club and greatest rival, with Wrexham’s permission, is Cardiff City. It became our rival in the 2013/14 preseason and the Bluebirds won 2-1 at Cardiff City Stadium.

• Finally, it would be interesting to highlight that Athletic’s first men team has played 130 matches against 50 clubs based in the British Isles, 106 against 43 English clubs, 12 against Scottish and two against Welsh clubs. Nevertheless, it has never faced an Irish club. However, Athletic Club Women team defeated Newtownabbey Strikers from Northern Ireland, by 10-3 on the opening day of the 2004/05 Women’s Champions League.

Pictures: Athletic Club Museoa

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