Irish Catalan Patrick O’Connell – Barcelona Saviour
Match Fixing Scandal
On the 2nd of April, Good Friday, in 1915 O’Connell took that penalty but shot well wide and the match ended 2-0. Shamed, but avoiding criminal charges or a playing ban, Patrick O’Connell remained a Manchester United player during World War I but there was very little football played. It has been suggested that the idea of the match fixing emerged because the players realised that their earning capacity would be severely limited by the impending war.
Patrick O’Connell and Ireland Win Home Nations Championship
Patrick O’Connell and Football Management in Spain
Following his period with Racing Santander Patrick O’Connell went on to manage Real Oviedo for two years and then managed Real Betis for three years.
Controversy Follows Don Patricio to Real Betis
By this time O’Connell was commonly referred to as Don Patricio within the Spanish football world. He had very significant success with Real Betis first qualifying to enter the Primera Liga and then went on to win the top Spanish league in April 1935. Betis had to beat Racing in Santander to be sure of beating Real Madrid to the title. It appears that Patrick O’Connell had a few drinks with some of his former colleagues from Racing and the following exchange is reported to have taken place,” ‘You’ve got nothing to play for tomorrow. You won’t kill yourselves to beat us will you?’ O’Connell asked. The answer from one of the leading players was unequivocal: ‘I’m sorry, mister, but Madrid wants us to win. Our president, José María Cossio, is a Madrid fan himself and is offering us 1,000 pesetas per (Racing) player if we win.’ ” Apparently Don Patricio didn’t pursue matter, nevertheless Real Betis thumped Racing Santander 5-0 to clinch the Primera Liga for the one and only time .
Patrick O’Connell – Manager of Barcelona
Following a brief holiday in his native Ireland Patrick O’Connell was appointed as the manager of Barcelona during the summer of 1935. Catalonia was becoming a centre of resistance against the right wing tendencies emerging in Spain at the time. This manifested itself on the football pitch in matches between Barça and the Franco-sponsored Real Madrid – a rivalry that persists to this day. When the Spanish Civil war erupted in 1936 the board of Barcelona decided to confine play to local Catalan competitions. As the pressures from the conflict mounted it appeared that the very existence of Barça was under serious threat.
Out of the blue the club received an invitation from Manuel Mas Soriano, a former Mexican basketball player, to tour Mexico and the USA for a guaranteed fee of $15,000 – a huge amount at the time. This was a financial lifeline for Barça and a very real lifeline for the players who were feeling increasingly unsafe. It also provided refuge for the groundsman. Angel Mur. Somewhat bizarrely, Patrick O’Connell insisted that Mur go on the trip as the team’s masseur.
Patrick O’Connell and Barcelona Tour North America
The tour which was originally due to have taken two weeks in fact took two months. None of the touring party were in any rush to get back to war-wracked Spain. Patrick O’Connell’s conduct and performance during the tour was a major success in PR terms and Barça received favourable reviews throughout the tour for their positive conduct on and off the pitch. Following a series of matches in September 1937 in New York the touring party had run out of road and it was time to return to Spain.
Details of Matches Played by Barcelona in New York
During a team meeting twelve of the players decided to quit Barça and remain in the USA. The club secretary Calvet decided to wire the tour fee of $15,000 to a bank account in Paris rather than take the chance that the cash might fall into the hands of the fascists on their return to Spain. Of the original touring party just O’Connell, Calvet, Mur, team doctor Amoros, and four players returned to Spain. On their return to Spain Patrick O’Connell left Barcelona.
Patrick O’Connell – End of Days for a Barça Legend
O’Connell went on to manage Seville between 1942 and 1945 taking the team to second place in La Liga in his first season . He finished his soccer management career in Spain where it all started – back with Racing Santander from 1947 to 1949.
What happened in his life after he left Spain is unclear however Patrick O’Connell, the Irishman that helped to save the great Barcelona Football Club, finished his days in obscurity in run-down lodgings near St. Pancras station in London. Patrick O’Connell died on the 27th February 1959 at the age of 71. There is a bust of Patrick O’Connell in the Barça museum and he is remembered on the Barcelona FC website.
Patrick O’Connell – Manchester United & Ireland Statistics
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