When I was a kid, a lot was said when someone pretended an impossible: “You have more moral than Alcoyano.” Or: “That one has more morale than the Alcoyano goalkeeper, who, losing 1-0, asked his teammates to take a penalty to show off.” The origin of the phrase is uncertain. They run various explanations.
One is that in a match against Espanyol, which they lost 7-1, they protested to the referee for whistling the end without discount because they aspired to come back. Others speak of a match in Third in which they lost 13-0 and kept fighting.
The first game is real, it corresponds to the promotion of 1943-44, in which Espanyol remained in First. Alcoyano rose the following year, so 45-46 was that of his appearance among the greats. The coach and factotum behind that success was called Ramón Balaguer, a former Levante player. Born in El Cabanyal and raised in the port environment, he was a Republican, like his brothers Antonio and José, also players. The three enrolled as brigadistas in a column of militiamen and fought on the Teruel front. Antonio became captain. After the war, José suffered a death sentence, first commuted to a life sentence, then greatly reduced. Antonio passed jail and could not be a coach by disaffection. Ramón only spent a few months at the front, due to a lung disease. Between that and a friendly Levantine judge, he spent little time in jail and came out clean.
The lung withdrew him young, he went from player to coach in Levante itself and Perez-Payá, president of Alcoyano, whose last name would sound a lot for his son José Luis, player of Real, Atlético and Madrid, noticed him. where it coincided with the beginnings of Di Stéfano. He would become president of the Federation.
Balaguer came as Alcoyano coach in 42-43, and was the architect of the great era. Not long ago i read the book 40 historical of Valencian football, from 1988, a compilation of interviews by Jaime Hernández Perpiñá with old Valencian sports idols published in the newspaper The Provinces. It included one with Balaguer and there were these questions and answers about “Alcoyano’s morality”:
“What was the reason exactly?”
—We won or lost the games 5-4, 4-3, we tied them at four, three, because we always played on the attack, always facing the opposite goal, even though we were losing 4-0, always with a lot of morale . We’re? And, of course, all the publics stayed with us, because we never gave up a game for lost.
It is the only testimony of a protagonist of the time that I have been able to consult. Luis Casanova, son of the president of Valencia of the same name, a boy at that time, also remembers it that way, as a spirited team, a fighter, unavailable to discouragement, and agrees that it comes from there. The 7-1 and the 13-0 (if the latter existed) were possibly humorous contributions when the phrase was already rolling.
The fame of that eagerness that characterized Alcoyano in those years was greatly amplified by two cupper events. It has already been said that he appeared in Primera in 45-46. It was the last and it went down. After the League, the Cup was played. It was Athletic Bilbao, champion of the three previous editions, and to the surprise of all Spain, the newly released player passed with a 3-3 at San Mamés and a 2-0 at El Collao. It was the Athletic of Iriondo, Venancio, Zarra, Panizo and Gaínza! That caused a national uproar. In the quarterfinals he played with Madrid, which drew 2-2 at El Collao and sweated ink to eliminate him (2-0) in the second leg at Chamartín.
In the 47-48 he returned to play in First. This time in the Cup it was his turn in Valencia, brand new league champion, and the tie (3-2 at Mestalla, 1-0 at El Collao) required a tiebreaker in Castellón, where Valencia finally passed (1-0). Forcing the tiebreaker against the league champion was another bell.
This time it remained. He was tenth in 47-48, his best classification, ahead of Madrid. In 48-49 it fell, in 49-50 it went up again, in 50-51 it fell again and did not return.
His fiery style, his insistence on returning after the descents, the two bells in the Cup, the impetus of his striker Quisco, a mustachioed Molina de Segura with a Maghreb look, and the fact that he belongs to a smaller city than the rest of the First-class teams made their adventures look with the greatest sympathy. And Alcoyano’s morality became a national legend.
It has been 70 years since he has returned to the surface of our football, but the echoes of that apparition still ring out. Like that of a mythological being whose memory keeps the tribe alive in oral transmission from father to son.