The founding of Spain’s oldest football club

This day in football history


On 23 December 1889, Dr. Alexander Mackay and a group of British workers at the Rio Tinto mining company in the city of Huelva formed the Huelva Recreation Club. Now known as Recreativo de Huelva, it is Spain’s oldest football club, earning it the nickname “El Decano” (the Dean).

The club enjoyed early success, winning 12 straight regional Andalusian titles from 1903 to 1914. Since then, however, the club’s fortunes declined, with Huelva spending most of the seasons in their history in La Liga’s Segunda, Segunda B and Tercera divisions. They have spent only five seasons in Spain’s top flight, most recently from 2006–07 to 2008–09. They have had some success in the Copa del Rey, however, reaching the final in 2003 where they lost to Mallorca.

Several notable players have passed through Huelva, including Juventus defender Martín Cáceres, who played there from 2007 to 2008, and Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla, who was there from 2006 to 2007.

Huelva currently compete in the Segunda División B, which is the third level of the Spanish football pyramid.