When people talk about the Cup finals in Bilbao, all eyes turn to the estuary, where the barge rests, a recent myth. In reality, the barge without a motor has been in the dry dock for years, as part of the Maritime Museum, and its history is limited to two seasons in which it crossed the Nervión River to celebrate Athletic's football successes: the 1983 League. and the League and the 1984 Cup. Of course, it was with hundreds of thousands of people on its margins, still industrious, cheering the rojiblancos heroes. Never has a tradition so recent reached such a category of legend in the collective imagination.
'The symbolic barge of Athletic will furrow the estuary', by SANTIAGO SEGUROLA
The original barge, in which the players of the Acero Club de Olabeaga sailed the estuary Arenal from Bilbao to its neighborhood at the foot of San Mamés, which is where the Maritime Museum is currently located, set sail for the first time on May 4, 1924, when Acero managed to proclaim itself champion of Spain in series B, off Osasuna, in Seville.
That day, the Athletic board called on its supporters to throw themselves on the shores to acclaim the footballers of the modest team in a Bilbao neighborhood. However, he will not be able to do that now if he wins one of the two finals he has on the horizon, the two in the Cup: against Real Sociedad on April 3 (corresponding to last season) and against Barcelona on April 17 (the final of this course) . The ban on using the barge has been made very clear by the spokesman for the Basque Government, Bingen Zupiria, in a tone that Athletic supporters did not like much, more for the attitude than for the message: “I have read somewhere that they are going to test the barge, I hope it is so that it does not sink, but not to prepare it for a celebration ”, he pointed out in a program on ETB, the Basque public television .
Indeed, at noon this Tuesday, the barge was hoisted by a gigantic crane from the dry dock and deposited in the estuary, after the reform to which it was subjected for eight months, paid for by Athletic, which has paid a bill of 200,000 euros for the repair. The buoyancy test had to be carried out, which the technicians of the port authority had to supervise, which is the one that issues licenses for vessels that can navigate in Bilbao's waters
The work began around 8 a.m. and lasted until noon. when a crane lifted the 18.5-meter-long, 8.5-meter-wide boat to take it out of the enclosure it was in and set it down in the estuary, in the presence of hundreds of onlookers
The repair was not a decision Suddenly before the two finals, but it is part of an agreement signed by Athletic and the Maritime Museum, with a validity of 20 years, so the fans have surprised the words of the spokesman, at the same time Minister of Culture: “I don't want it to sink, but we shouldn't be fostering any illusions around a massive celebration right now.”
Bingen Zupiria apparently did not recall the words of the mayor of Bilbao , Juan María Aburto, a member of his party, the PNV , which had already signed it up, when the restoration began. "We are not doing something for next month or for this season or next," he said. “We are doing something for the future. We are laying the foundations so that the barge can return to the Ría, and hopefully it will do so to celebrate Athletic titles. ”
Aburto, on that occasion, stated that the barge would return“ sooner rather than later ”, to sail the waters of the Nervión, but he did not put any deadline. Circumstances have led to the most attractive part of the repair being carried out a few days before the April Cup finals, which will be played without an audience.
The float test was successful. The barge did not sink