Sunday, 2 May 2010

Montevideo Wanderers (Uruguay)

Wanderers are something of a phenomenon in Uruguayan football - but not always necessarily for the stuff that happens on the pitch. Although they can trace their history back to a small student team back as far as 1898, they formally formed four years later in 1902, immediately causing a stir. This was arguably the most successful period of their history, as they won the league in 1906 and 1908, plus the Copa de Honor in 1908 and 1910, as well as a clutch of smaller local and international tournaments.

To this day they are one of only three clubs to have won the title unbeaten - the other pair being Club Nacional de Fútbol and Club Atlético Peñarol - known locally as The Two Bigs, the Uruguayan version of The Old Firm. They gained their name of Wanderers after the club's founders, the Sardeson Brothers, travelled to England and were excited to discover that Wolverhampton Wanderers has won the FA Cup. As they had no official kit, money or even a ground they felt that the description Wanderers suited them perfectly, so took it home with them for their fledgling club as a homage to Wolves.

They continued to be one of their country's top teams, frequently touring outside of their country, until a financial crisis in the 1940s saw them sell all their biggest names, and since then they have struggled to remain competitive against the richer teams. They subsequently became a battling yo-yo club of some repute, winning the Segunda División Uruguay on four occasions. The mid-1990s saw them nearly go out of business, but their fortunes have seen an upswell in recent years. If they had gone to the wall though football would have lost one of its most lively sets of fans - Los Vagabundos.

Their Estadio Viera ground may not be the largest or most well kept in their league, but it's certainly one of the most atmospheric. Surrounded by plush parkland, and fringed by exotic vegetation that overhangs the open seating, the ground is a perfect stage for the lively Wanderers fans. Home games are a riot of flags and banners, will reems of streamers being thrown from the off, and full salsa bands playing for the whole game. The fans themseleves often arrive clutching their trademark black and white umbrellas, and are famed throughout South America as being one of the biggest party mobs on the continent.

And just lately they've had something to cheer about. Since they last found their way back to the top flight in 2000, they've been gradually consolidating, finishing fourth in the table last term. A club with that kind of loyal fanbase deserves a bit of success, so let's hope they soon return to the glory days.

All photos © lays with the owners
Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

1 comment: