While there are many clubs whohave forged lofty reputations by winning titles and achieving success on a grand scale, there are others of more modest stature who have made a strong sense of belonging the defining feature of their proud histories.
One such outfit are Club Atletico Huracan, a humble neighbourhood side who, thanks to their popularity and unique feeling for the game, have earned an undisputed place in the Argentinian elite, ahead of other clubs with more silverware to their name.
FIFA.com relates the rich history of a club that, in the eyes of the legendary Cesar Luis Menotti, are the saviour of Argentinian football.
Birth of an institution
Just like Buenos Aires, the city it calls home, Huracan was founded not once but twice. The first of those beginnings came on 25 May 1903, when a group of youngsters from the suburb of Nueva Pompeya decided to set up a football club by the name of “Verde esperanza y no pierde” (which literally translates as “Green hope and it never loses”).
One day the founders went to a book store to order a rubber stamp for their administrative duties, only to be told that the club’s lengthy moniker would not fit on it. Looking around them, they spotted a calendar bearing the words “El Huracan”, and so Club Atletico Huracan came into being.
The renamed club was officially founded on 1 November 1908, by which time a group of students from the neighbouring suburb of Parque Patricios had joined the cause. The following year the club’s original white jersey sported a distinctive new badge depicting a famous balloon that was also known as “El Huracan”, which had been piloted that year by the intrepid local aviation pioneer Jorge Newbery from the Argentinian capital to Brazil.
Huracan, whose nickname El Globo is Spanish for “balloon”, were all set to take off.
The making of a legend
Following three consecutive promotions, Huracan arrived in the Argentinian first division in 1914, the height of the amateur era, which ended in 1931. The club went on to win four championships in eight seasons in that time, becoming one of the country’s six biggest teams in the process.
Also known as El Quemero (The Incinerator, so-called because their home ground stood on a refuse disposal site), Huracan’s main adversaries were neighbours San Lorenzo. Meanwhile, their rivalry with Boca Juniors grew in intensity on account of the title battles the two clubs waged season after season.
Two of El Globo’s most famous players of those early days were Cesareo Onzari, known around the world for scoring the first goal direct from a corner in 1924, and Guillermo Stabile, who was a Huracan man when he finished leading scorer with eight goals at Uruguay 1930, the inaugural FIFA World Cup™.
The great Stabile was the first of four Globo players to score FIFA World Cup goals for Argentina, the other three being Rene Houseman, who struck three at Germany 1974 and one at Argentina 1978, and Carlos Babington and Miguel Brindisi, the scorers of a goal apiece in 1974.
The quartet’s combined total of 14 is more than any other club has contributed to the Albiceleste cause at the biggest tournament of them all. Italy’s Fiorentina are next on the list with 11, all courtesy of Gabriel Batistuta, followed by Spanish side Valencia with six, all scored by Mario Kempes.
Houseman, Babington and Brindisi were three of the mainstays of the golden era the club enjoyed in the 1970s, the catalyst for which was the appointment of Cesar Luis Menotti as coach in 1971. The following year Huracan finished third in the 1972 Metropolitano league championship, this after becoming the only side to beat champions San Lorenzo in the second half of the season, by the emphatic scoreline of 3-0.
One year on and El Globo won the professional title they had been waiting for, finishing four points clear of Boca Juniors and six of San Lorenzo. Also performing with distinction, in a side still remembered today for its aesthetically pleasing brand of football, were players of the calibre of Alfio Basile, Roque Avallay and Omar Larrosa.
Huracan reached the semi-finals of the 1974 Copa Libertadores with the same nucleus of players and also finished Metropolitano runners-up that year and the next, by which time goalkeeper Hector Baley and midfielder Osvaldo Ardiles had joined the Globo ranks. The pair would later line up with Larrosa and Houseman in the squad that Menotti would take to the world title at Argentina 1978.
Success gave way to instability the following decade. Huracan were relegated for the first time in their history in 1986, taking four years to return, and it was not until 1994 that they challenged for the championship again. Hector Cuper was in the dugout as they went into the last round of games in that year’s Clausura holding a one-point lead over Independiente, the side they had to visit in that final outing, which ended in a title-wrecking 4-0 defeat.
Some 15 years and two more relegations later came another near miss. Coach Angel Cappa, a self-confessed Menotti disciple, had steered his classy, entertaining side to the brink of the2009 Clausura crown, with the exquisitely gifted pair of Javier Pastore and Mario Bolatti providing the inspiration. Alas it was not to be, as Huracan let slip another last-day, one-point advantage in going down 1-0 to direct title rivals and eventual champions Velez Sarsfield.
Beaten they may have been, but that Cappa side earned many admirers for the football they produced, among them Babington, the club’s then chairman: “The 1973 team was more powerful, but I said to my son, who never saw us play, that the concept Cappa pursued was exactly the same.That’s why the 2009 team excited us so much, because 30 years on they reminded us of the football we used to play.”
The club went into a downward spiral when that squad was broken up, and suffered the fourth relegation of its history in 2011 after losing to Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata in a play-off. Huracan flirted with another drop down the Argentinian league pyramid last season before eventually pulling away from danger. Their fortunes have improved slightly this year, and they are now trying to get in contention for one of the three promotion play-off spots.
The foundation stone of the Estadio Tomas Adolfo Duco, which takes its namefrom the person who championed its construction and which is also known as El Palacio, was laid in the Parque Patricios on 26 October 1941, though it was not until August 1943 that work on the stands began. Opened in September 1947, the stadium now has a capacity of 48,000. It was declared a City of Buenos Aires Heritage Site in 2007.