From the pub to the Conference League! A Gibraltar bar team has qualified for European cups

If in League 1, the teams invest millions of euros and have to collect dozens of victories to then boast that they reach the European Cup preliminaries, the performance was also successful by the club set up by a few friends who spent time together in a bar. The team is named Bruno’s Magpies and reached the Conference League qualifiers after playing the Rock Cup final in Gibraltar.

The club was founded by an 18-year-old man

In 2013, English Louis Perry He had just turned 18 when he decided to move to Gibraltar to live with his grandparents. They owned a pub, called Bruno’s Bar. The young man had been legitimized regionally, in the Portsmouth area of ​​England, and wanted to play football for pleasure, but could not find a team to welcome him with open arms. At the time of its establishment in Gibraltarthere was only one league, and expats could not play football because they were not welcomed in the local teams and there were no pitches to rent.

So, after rehearsing for one of the local teams and being refused, even though he had scored two goals in that match, Louis decided that he would make his own club.

“I went to the headquarters Gibraltar Football Association and I asked if we could found our own team. They told us it cost us £ 500 for a senior team and another £ 500 for a second team. I went to my grandparents’ bar and asked them if they could sponsor us and they agreed.

We signed up for the championship and bought a row of equipment, and we put the coach on Mick Embleton, a 50-year-old client of the bar, after I remembered that he once told us that he had coached a team. He hadn’t trained at a high level, but he’s a big fan of him Newcastle United and is good friend with Alan Shearer, so he agreed. But he made it a condition for the team to be named Magpies, after the nickname of Newcastle “, recalls the club’s founder.

The selection of the group was made on a beach in Spain

There was only one football field in Gibraltar and they could not reserve it to carry out the trial to form the team, so it was organized on a beach in Spain, near Algeciras. The team was formed, and most of the footballers were selected from the bar’s customers. They signed up for a list left on the bar, after seeing the ad pasted on the window, and the first to install the ID card constantly had several mugs of beer.

The team was entered in the second division, at a time when football in Gibraltar was developing rapidly, benefiting from sponsorships from bookmakers, who moved their headquarters here in the UK, to pay lower fees. “Most of the teams brought in Spanish players, some pretty good, so after two seasons in the middle of the standings, we had become the beaks of the fight. We were the only team with British and European pedigree, and the group consisted exclusively of amateurs. So we have adapted to the situation “, says Louis Perry.

Half of the shares were bought by the former president of Watford

Louis suffered a ligament rupture in 2016, during a match, so he retired from the activity and assumed the role of leader, managing to be promoted to the first division from the position of president-boss. Work at Chestertonsa local real estate agency, where he met Haig Oundjiana British bronze medalist at the 1971 European Figure Skating Championships, who had been its president Watford Football Clubwhen the club was funded by the singer Elton John.

Oundjian accepted the position of vice-president and bought half of the club’s shares, making an important infusion of capital and coming up with the idea of ​​bringing players who could no longer find contracts in the British or European champions. While rival clubs went bankrupt on the conveyor belt, Louis, who handled administrative matters during the lunch break at work, was able to recruit the athletic director. Jansen Dalli and the secretary and the lawyer Aaron Edwardsso the activity took a semi-professional turn.

The most experienced player played at Ceahlăul Piatra Neamț

At the moment, nine players are locals, who have normal jobs, working as accountants, customs officers or port officials, while the rest of the footballers are professionals, coming from Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Canada and England. Jose Galan (36 years old), one of the few Spaniards in the group, is considered a traveling footballer, he played in 15 countries, before signing with the Gibraltar team. In the 2015-2016 season, the Spanish central midfielder was legitimized at Ceahlăul Piatra Neamțin League 3 in Romania, where he left with financial arrears.

The stars of the “black and white” group are the Brazilian Edenilson Bergonsi (ex-Juventude, Varese Calcio, Standard Liege, CSKA Sofia and Enosis Neon Paralimni), Canadian Matt Silva (ex-SC Toronto, Bodens BK and Valor FC), Spaniards Jose Galan (ex-Atletico Madrid B, St. Polten, Aris Limassol, Ceahlăul Piatra Neamț, RoPS and Al-Shamal SC) and Ruben Diaz (ex-Cadiz B and Recreativo Huelva B).

They will win the budget for next season, from participating in the Conference League

Dalli organized the club with six teams, plus one futsal and one U23, and the coach of the senior team is always called a young Englishman, who wants to gain experience to get a better contract in football in Great Britain. The appointment of Dean Holdsworth, a former Bolton Wanderers player, as general manager and transfer consultant, and the appointment of the coach Nathan Rooney has greatly improved the game and the results, so Bruno’s Magpies reached the Cup final, where they led 1-0 on Lincoln Red Impsuntil the 88th minute, then the more experienced team returns the result.

Place in the final Rock Cup brought the first participation of the team in the European cups, “The Magpies” will meet on Crusaders FC (Northern Ireland), in the first preliminary round of the Conference League, on 7 and 14 July. As Gibraltar does not have an airport, the team will have to travel two hours by bus to Malaga, from where it will fly to Belfast. The team is evolving on Victoria Stadium (2,000 seats / artificial turf), where CFR Cluj also played with Lincoln Red Imps, in the second round of the Champions League preliminaries, last season. The club will receive 150,000 euros, even if it will be eliminated by the Crusaders, ie it will have the budget for the next season.

“We are still the team of a bar. We still go to the pub to celebrate the victories or to organize our activity. It’s something fantastic, if we think about where we left and where we arrived. We did a lot of stupid things along the way, in an attempt to keep the team running, but we’re still here. FC Basel, if we pass the Crusaders. But that’s why football is beautiful, “Perry concluded.

Photo – @BrunosMagpies