Saturday, 26 June 2010

Albinegros de Orizaba (Mexico)

In a country whose domestic football is already a heady confusion of franchises and bankruptcy, Albinegros de Orizaba have in turns disappeared and come back more times than Elvis, Frank Sinatra and Lazarus put together. As such, their's is a complicated and difficult chain of events to follow, so if you know more about them than I and see that I've missed something important out, please do let me know!

Formed as a general sports club, the Orizaba Athletic Club, in 1898, their football wing kicked off three years later. Founded by Scotsman Duncan MacOmish, they were one of five clubs in the La Liga Mexicana de Football Amateur Association - the first national league in the country - which they won, notching them down in history as Mexico's debut champions. Interestingly, the whole of the winning squad were Scottish. Sadly, this was to be the height of the team's achievements.

Playing in the lovely little city of Orizaba in the mountainous Veracruz region in the south of Mexico, the snow-topped peak you can see on their badge is the Pico de Orizaba, a volcano that at 18,490 ft is the highest point in Mexico - and indeed the third highest peak in the whole North American continent. The mountain is clearly visible from their traditional Estadio Socum home. 

However, this is where things begin to get complicated. The team, then still named Orizaba Athletic Club, saw some internal wrangling immediately after their title season and immediately folded, only to return in 1906, when it joined the Liga Veracruzana under the name Asociación Deportiva Orizabeña. They plodded along in their regional league until1943, when they were invited to join the Liga Mayor - Mexico's first professional league. Here they stayed until 1949, when after a little more internal wrangling, they went out of business for a second time.

Fast forward to 1967, when a newly reformed ADO joined the newly formed Mexican third division. Four seasons later they won their way up to the second tier, where they have plied their trade ever since. Well kind of. Now each level of the Mexican league has regional inter divisions, and also has two championships a year. In 2002, after a poor season, they almost went out of business again, but were restored by the president of Club Bachilleres de Guadalajara, Juan Manuel Garcia, under their new name of Albinegros de Orizaba. Are you following? It gets more complicated still!

After another bad year, their principal franchise was sold to the team who briefly became Lagartos de Tabasco - but their reserve team kept on the Albinegros name and have played as such ever since. Well kinda. In 2009, the team then known as Tiburones Rojos de Coatzacoalcos swapped franchises and moved to the city of Orizaba to play on as Albinegros. For a bit at least. Last season also saw them temporarily move stadiums to Veracruz to go play at the Estadio Luis Pirata Fuente while their grand old stadium - first built in 1899, and one of the oldest in Mexico - was brought up to scratch for the league.

So it's been a complicated history - and one that will probably have changed at least twice more by the time you get to read this - but throughout all of this, (well, most of it) the people of Orizaba have had one heck of an interesting team to follow!

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