How Spanish football's roots were sown in Lybster
Spanish clubs have made a profound impact upon world football, yet it would not have been possible were it not for a Lybster doctor.
Rab MacWilliam's book, Life In La Liga, out this week, documents the history of club football in Spain – including the important Caithness connection.
Rab has worked in journalism and publishing for more than 40 years. He is the author of numerous books on football with this one being his 10th.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are of course mentioned, along with other high-profile clubs such as Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla.
Not to be forgotten, though, are Recreativo de Huelva – the oldest football club in Spain, founded in 1889 by Dr William Alexander Mackay.
Although based in London, Inverness-born Rab also has Caithness ties with his mother hailing from Lybster and he would visit an aunt who lived near Latheron.
It was doing his research for the book that Rab stumbled across the story about Recreativo's roots.
"It was a real coincidence," he said. "I spotted an article on the Groat website amongst others about Lybster going over to play Recreativo.
"Doctor William Mackay – who was known as 'El Decano' [the Dean] – established Spain's first club side in December 1889.
"Recreativo also played the first club match against Sevilla [founded a month later by Hugh MacColl from Glasgow] that was played under [English] FA rules.
"From then, football took off with other clubs being formed. The big two, Real Madrid and Barcelona, are well known to most but the book tries to include other clubs as well – although trying to condense 120 years of history into 90,000 words was quite tricky."
Rab added: "Huelva has a high regard for William but not so much elsewhere.
"Spain is very regional and so each region – the Basque Country, Catalonia, Valencia, Galicia and so on – has its own football history to look back on."
Life in La Liga: The Story of Spanish Club Football is written by Rab MacWilliam and published by Arena Sport. The book is on general sale from October 10.