The year is 2007, and Real Betis Balompie are now officially 100 years old. To celebrate the occasion the club launched the new official home, away and 3rd centenary kits.
Unfortunately for the Seville-based club and their dedicated followers, a year that should have sparked such celebrations has started with their team deep in the relegation mire, way down in 18th place in Spain's 20-team Primera division
100 years of football
The Betis story began way back in 1907, when a group of friends decided to set up a team called Sevilla Balompie to challenge the already-established Sevilla FC. The club's founders decided on a strip based on the green and white of the Andalusian flag, a region where the colour olive green has a near-spiritual significance.
After breaking into the Primera Division in 1932, the Verdiblancos took just three years to win the league title. However, the post-civil war years hit the club hard, with the Beticos going on to languish in Spanish football's third tier for seven years, where they teetered on the brink of financial ruin.
The arrival of Benito Villamarin as President in 1955 signalled the start of a new era for the Andalusian outfit. Villamarin's ten-year spell in charge transformed the underlying mentality of the club, bringing in much-needed core business values and tidying up the club's accounts. During his reign the team made it back into the top flight, celebrated their 50th birthday in style and made the sound financial move of purchasing the Estadio Heliopolis outright.
Even more was to follow in the 1963/64 campaign, as the club finished in third place to guarantee their involvement in the following season's Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, their first experience of European competition. The euphoria would not last however, with Betis suffering the ignominy of relegation just two years later.
The fans would have to wait until the 1970s to celebrate their next piece of silverware, this time coming in the shape of the 1977 Copa del Rey. All the while, bubbling away in the background, the tremendous rivalry between the two Seville sides continued apace.
Fast forward to the 2004/05 season, when experienced coach Lorenzo Serra Ferrer led his side to a dream finish to the campaign, sealing a lucrative UEFA Champions League place and adding another Copa del Rey crown to their trophy cabinet. The level of expectation generated by the team's exploits would gradually dissipate the following year though, as Betis struggled to compete on two fronts, eventually finishing in 14th place in the league.
In Europe, the might of English heavyweights Liverpool and Chelsea prevented Betis from progressing from Group G of the Champions League, the Beticos having to make do with a place in the UEFA Cup. Then, after dropping out of that particular competition at the last 16 stage, the club and their ever-loyal fans looked on in agony as eternal rivals Sevilla went on to lift the trophy on a balmy night in Eindhoven.