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Off-the-radar: Dark, unlucky times in working-class Seville

Two seasons of misfortune in the lives of Real Betis fans - we take a look back.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Every Segunda, each jornada seems to matter as much as the last - but then somehow before the last game the league is set up perfect for the unpredictable. Almost on purpose.

The previous season, the 2008-09 La Liga, Betis were on 41 points, in 16th place. Going into the final matchday, all they needed was a win, and if they dropped points, both Osasuna and Sporting would have to win. So Getafe, Osasuna, Valladolid, Sporting and Betis all could go down, but in practise not many expected Osasuna to win against Real Madrid anyways.

Osasuna 2-1 Real Madrid, Sporting 2-1 Recreativo. Racing 1-1 Getafe. Betis 1-1 Valladolid. With 24 minutes of the season left, one point separated all five teams; one goal could send all five down: a goal for Madrid and Osasuna were down, a goal for Recre and Sporting were, a goal for Betis and Valladolid were down; a goal for Racing and Getafe were; no goals at all and Betis were down.

Here a close header for Recre, there a post for Betis; here a crossbar for Osasuna, there a save from Casillas. The clock ticked down. The Betis goalkeeper Ricardo joined the attack. But there were no goals. The final whistle went, and Betis were down. One goal, and, level with Getafe, Betis went down on goal difference: -6 to -7. Just one more goal, in ANY ONE of Betis’ 38 fixtures, would have seen them stay.

And yet they didn’t. The seemingly impossible became a reality. Betis were down in La Segunda.

It sparked a protest movement in July 2009, when 65,000 Béticos took to the streets of Seville to call for the resignation of Lopera, as he was being investigated for corporate fraud - taking money out of the club for his own personal gain. Lopera tried to sell his shares to an investment group headed up by his friend Luis Oliver, but the courts intervened and put former Bético Rafael Gordillo in charge.

It’s the 19th of June, 2010. The last day of the season, and Betis are in fourth place. They needed a win, and hope that Hércules dropped points, in order to secure promotion.

It was not surprising Hércules won 2-0 against already-relegated Real Unión Club de Irún, and maybe it was not surprising that Betis won 4-0 against already promoted Levante.

What was surprising though, was how Hércules won.

It was a disgrace.

If there was one match where everyone knew that every player on the pitch was forcing the outcome of the match so blatantly, it was this one. It had to be this one.

Real Unión players literally fell down when beaten, took long shots from outrageous distances even when multiple passing options were open, cleared balls high and only high, and sometimes even aimed their passes at the opponent's’ feet.

But even all that was nothing compared to what happened in the 55th minute of the game.

A ball was played into the box. It was low, it was slow, and it was aimed at one player in particular. It was such a beautiful finish - controlled, calm, composed, completely perfect - like a striker, some might say.

Here’s the thing though - it wasn’t a striker. And it certainly wasn’t a Hércules player.

It was Iñaki Descarga, Real Unión’s right back. And he was from Irun.

Read more about what happened on the final day of the 2009-10 Segunda season here.

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