Arthur Witty

FC Barcelona Player 1899-1905 and President 1903-04

Arthur Witty Cotton began playing for FC Barcelona soon after the club's foundation in 1899 and served as the club's fourth president between 1903 and 1905.

Although born in Barcelona, Witty was the son of a Yorkshire businessman, Frederick Witty, who had initially intended to emigrate to Argentina but ended up setting up a shipping company in Barcelona.

Arthur and his brother, Ernest, were educated at Merchant Taylors' School on Merseyside, where they both excelled at rugby.

Incidentally, the Merchant Taylors' rugby team's colours were blue and claret, so some people claim that the reason why Barça's colours are blaugrana is that the Witty brothers brought rugby shirts over in the early days.

However FC Basel and other clubs that FC Barcelona founder, Joan Gamper, played for and his home canton of Zurich have all been credited or claimed to be the inspiration.

On their return to Barcelona, Arthur and Ernest were unable to play rugby due to lack of pitches so began to organise football games between members of the expat community.

In 1899, Ernest became a founding member of the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona and apparently, played tennis with, among others Hans (later Joan) Gamper so not surprisingly the brothers soon became involved when Gamper set up the new football club.



FC Barcelona Player

In fact, Arthur was part of the English expat team, and scored the goal, that beat FC Barcelona 1-0 in the club's very first game on December 9th 1899 at the old Velodróm de Horta, now Turó Park.

Just two weeks later, on Christmas Eve 1899, Arthur Witty made his official debut for FC Barcelona in a 3-1 win against FC Català.

In 1900, Alfons Macaya, president of Hispania AC, offered a trophy and the first Copa Macaya competition was played in the 1901-02 season with FC Barcelona being crowned the first champions.

The same season Arthur Witty played for the Barcelona side that participated in the very first Copa de España, beating Madrid FC in the semi-finals before losing the final 2-1 to Club Vizcaya.

During the 1902-1903 season two rival competitions were organised with Español winning the Copa Macaya and FC Barcelona winning the Copa Barcelona.

After 1903 the championship was organised by the Football Associació de Catalunya and it became known as the Campionat de Catalunya.

Between 1899 and 1905 Witty played a total of 77 games for FC Barcelona, scoring four goals and playing mainly as a full-back.


FC Barcelona President

After having previously served on the board of directors, Witty was elected President of FC Barcelona on September 17th 1903, making him the fourth president of the club and the first non-Swiss president.

During his presidency the club won the very first Campionat de Catalunya with a side that included hist brother, Ernest, and future coach, Romà Forns.

With the fan base growing, Arthur Witty arranged for FC Barcelona to play their home games at the Camp del Carrer Muntaner.

He also organised the club's first trip abroad and on May 1st 1904 FC Barcelona beat Stade Olympien des Étudiants Toulousains 3-2.

The same team were also invited back to Barcelona to play the opening game at Carrer Muntaner, which FC Barcelona won 4-0 with two gals from Joan Gamper.

Witty stood down as president of the club on October 6th 1905 and was replaced by FC Barcelona's first Catalan president, Josep Soler.

After FC Barcelona

Arthur Witty remained involved with the club until June 1924, when a British Royal Navy Band came to play at the Camp de Les Corts and was jeered when they played the Spanish National Anthem La Marcha Real and cheered when the played God Save the King.

The event led to the closure of Les Corts and as a result, Witty became increasingly disillusioned with the politicisation of the club.

Now known as Don Arturo, he remained a supporter but distanced himself from the running of the club.

During the 1930s Witty and his son, Frederick Jr., helped introduce well known British brands such as Cadburys, Johnnie Walker, Unilever and Bovril into the Spanish market thrugh the family company, and until 1936, Witty also served as President of the Barcelona Ship Agents Association.

As it was technically British-owned, the company managed to avoid a takeover by workers' committees during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).

Arthur Witty left Barcelona during World War II but returned some years later during Franco's dictatorship and set up business as a shipping agent once again as well as setting up a successful sports shop with his brother, Ernest.

Don Arturo Witty died in 1969.

Arthur Witty's Trophies

As a Player

*Debut as a player: 24-12-1899 (Barcelona 3-1 Català)
*Matches: 77
*Goals: 4

*Copa Macaya: 1: 1901-02
*Copa Barcelona: 1: 1902-03
*Campionat de Catalunya: 1: 1904-05

As President

*Debut as president: 17-09-1903

*Campionat de Catalunya: 1: 1904-05



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