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Olhanense celebrate their centenary as safety beckons

Olhanense, needing only a point to be guaranteed Premier League football next season, started a week of festivities last Saturday to commemorate their 100th anniversary.

Francisco Leal, President of Olhão Câmara, and Isidoro Sousa, President of SC Olhanense, were joined by club officials and fans as the flag was raised to the sounds of the Bombeiros Marching Band.  

Tomorrow evening (Saturday), 500 people will pack the Real Marina Hotel to welcome guest of honour, the President of Portugal Aníbal Cavaco Silva, together with Alexandre Mestre, the Secretary of State for Sport and Youth.  

Founded in 1912 in the small fishing village of Olhão, Sporting Clube Olhanense has a long and illustrious history.

In 1922, the famous SL Benfica caused great interest when they played in Olhão for the first time beating the home team 5-3.

In 1923, the club’s first official home, Estádio Padinha, was inaugurated where the Ria Shopping Centre now stands. The stadium was named after Francisco Padinha, a local athlete of national fame who became a world weightlifting champion in 1911 when he lifted 207kgs, a record not bettered until 1948.

Estádio Padinha was to be Olhanense’s home for the next 57 years.  In the 1923-4 season, Olhanense qualified for the Campeonato de Portugal and fought their way to the final where they recorded a famous victory over FC Porto.

A member of that team was Raul Soares de Figueroa “Tamanqueiro” who remains to this day the most capped Olhanense player, representing Portugal on 17 occasions. Other famous players include Grazina, born in São Brás de Alportel in 1910 and probably one of the best players never to represent his country. He was a member of the Olhanense team that lost 1-0 to Sporting in the 1945 Cup Final (Taça de Portugal).

Olhanense were promoted to the Premier Liga in 1941 and in 1945-6 finished fourth, achieving their best ever league position.

A former Olhanense player, Luciano Jorge Fernandes, made international headlines in 1966 when he was electrocuted in a tragic accident at the age of 26. Born in Olhão, Luciano made his first team debut in 1959 and went on to play over 100 games for the Algarveans. Two years later, the promising youngster was signed by Benfica.

But tragedy struck on December 5 1966 when seven players, including the world famous Eusébio, were using the hydro-massage pool after training. An electrical malfunction caused a tremendous shock and Luciano was killed instantly. His funeral was the largest ever seen in the Algarve and a street near the present José Arcanjo Stadium bears his name.  

From 1975, Olhanense were in the 2nd Division or lower but in 2009 all that was to change. Under the strong leadership of President Isidoro Sousa and managed by Jorge Costa, captain of Porto under José Mourinho when they won the European Champions League in 2004, the team won the 2nd Division Championship.  

Over €900,000 was spent on upgrading the José Arcanjo Stadium and work continues to this day to improve the facilities. A new Trophy & Exhibition Room will be officially inaugurated tomorrow and will display some of the thousands of awards and historical photographs and documents. A new synthetic all-weather junior pitch at the south end of the stadium will also be unveiled.

Results this season have included draws with last season’s UEFA Europa League Champions FC Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon.

While Manchester City has a playing budget of €350 million, Porto €95 million, Benfica €50 million and Sporting €40 million, the Algarve’s only top flight team has a meagre budget of just €1.4 million.

No wonder the fans are passionate and proud of their team’s achievements …