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Friday, 27 April 2012 15:56

Olhanense celebrate centenary

Algarve club continue progress under Conceicao

Tonight's Round 28 opener sees Braga host Olhanense, but regardless of the result at the Estadio AXA, there will be celebrations in Olhao throughout the weekend, as the club celebrates 100 years of existence, as well as the prospect of another year of top flight football.

On April 27th 1912, Armando Amancio and a group of friends established Sporting Clube Olhanense, firmly establishing football's presence in the Algarve region. As the name suggests, the initial inspiration for the name came from Lisbon, but from the beginning the club's identity has been firmly rooted in the area surrounding Olhao.

The outbreak of World War One temporarily halted the club's progress, but during the 1920's Olhanense were at the forefront of the national knock-out competition known as the Campeonato de Portugal. Their finest hour came in 1924, when victories over Vitoria FC, Maritimo, Sporting Tomar and FC Porto led the southern side to its first and only title. 

When the official, season-long championship began in 1938/39, Olhanense were left on the outside looking in. But three successive Campeonato do Algarve titles between 1939-1941 led to an invitation to the top table, which the club seized with both hands. The 1940's were a golden age, that saw Olhanense maintain their grip on regional competitions, whilst holding their own with the national powerhouses. A 5th-placed finish in 1943 was followed by a Taça de Portugal final appearance in 1945 (Peyroteo's Sporting prevailed, 1-0), and the club's best-ever finish, 4th, in 1945/46.

Spearheaded by Eminencio and future Benfica coach Fernando Cabrita, the team packed the 'O Padinha' (the move to the Estadio Jose Arcanjo did not come for more than sixty years) on a regular basis, but it wouldn't last. Olhanense finished bottom in 1950/51, and over the next 58 years would spend just five seasons in the top flight.

The last of these came in 1974/75, when a bullish, mop-haired midfielder by the name of Jorge Jesus was among the squad that finished second bottom. 

Decades in the wilderness followed, until the arrival of former Porto centre back and Portugal international Jorge Costa in 2008. Costa had endured an unhappy start to his coaching career with Braga, but President Isidoro Sousa gave him a second chance, and the rest is history. Buoyed by the goals of the veteran Djalmir, and aided by promising young loanees Joao Goncalves, Castro and Ukra, Olhanense won the Liga de Honra at a canter, and even more impressively, secured top flight survival the following season using the same core group of players, eventually finishing six points clear of the bottom two. 

The likes of Paulo Sergio, Jorge Goncalves and Mauricio ensured that survival was once again achieved under Dauto Faquira in 2010/11, and although a modest budget of less than €2,000,000 means that the club will inevitably lose the cream of its coaching and playing talent each close season, Sousa's willingness to hand promising young coaches an opportunity means that unlike many of the Liga's smaller outfits, Olhanense are generally an entertaining proposition, regardless of opposition. 

The latest of these coaches to arrive at the Arcanjo has been Sergio Conceicao, drafted in after Faquira's protracted departure last January. Never the most predictable of players, Conceicao is - so far - a surprisingly measured presence in the dugout, though his short reign has already yielded a touchline ban. Monday's 1-0 victory at Academica saw the team produce a compact, effective display, one which guarantees their presence in the 2012/13 top flight. Anything from here is a bonus. 

Ben Shave

With thanks to the excellent Olhanense.net for the archive images. 

Comments (1)
Thank you again
1 Friday, 27 April 2012 21:20
Great piece.

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