open menu

Photo Gallery (click to enlarge)

Sports in Alba Iulia

In the interwar decades sport was a lively topic in the local press. The tone of the articles fluctuated between disappointment and optimism. “We do not know at the first moment how to consider it, as humorous or tragicomic. We do not know if in all Romania there is a city with a more neglected sports activity as that of Alba Iulia”. The sarcasm-laden article from which this quotation was taken, was published in the newspaper Vestea (The News) in 1924. The author used the pseudonym Dellius (a Roman historian from the first century BC) was perhaps the lawyer Simion Vulcu, a Liberal politician interested in promoting sports in Alba Iulia. Some authors decried the state of local sports, observing that the only competitive games spectators could watch were football matches played by Michael the Brave High School students. As we will see, their pessimism was not justified. Local sports was not as insignificant as they made out, for a city with only 11,000 inhabitants in 1910 and 12,000 in 1930, which could hardly compete with the larger nearby urban areas of Cluj, Arad or Timișoara.

On the other hand, the newspaper columns were not completely monopolised by the articles of sceptics. There were also journalists who appreciated the matches played by Michael the Brave High School students, and from their articles we learn about other football teams that existed at that time, such as Victoria or IMTK. We also know that tennis was popular in Alba Iulia; its first tennis pavilion was built at the start of the twentieth century and reconstructed in 1927, with a second pavilion being constructed in the same year.

As concerns sport associations, in 1924 situation in the city changed radically. An article published in Vestea, in July, praised the initiative of the “working youth” to establish a club for summer and winter sports, to offer young people an alternative to inactivity or wasting time in pubs. The title of an article on the foundation of the Workers’ Sports Club in Alba Iulia proclaimed “Sport in Alba Iulia has been resurrected”. In the same year, perhaps, a new name, the Unirea Sports Club, was adopted.

In the summer of 1927, the association was reorganized under the presidency of advocate Simion Vulcu, former deputy (1922-1926) and prefect of Alba County from 1933. The club offered football, tennis, boating, gymnastics, athletics, cycling and swimming.

Among the significant expenses, Club President Vulcu noted those for equipment for football players, appreciating the support offered by the Central Bank. It is not surprising that football received the lion’s share of both interest and budget in the club. The organization emerged in a working class environment and popular sports like football were preferred, although others such as tennis or gymnastics were not neglected. This inclination coincided with the leanings of the wider public. Although in the photographs the equipment and the football ground appear a bit shabby, in the 1920s and 1930s the Unirea team satisfied its supporters with victories or at least exciting matches against renowned teams.

Unirea played against teams such as ATE Arad (1925), Nitrogen Târnăveni (1925) and Jiul Lupeni (1927). Their victory against Șoimii Sibiu (1927), their 3 - 1 against Sparta Gherla in an away match, and even their 2-2 draw in a match against HTV Sibiu (1927) were significant results.

Other activities members of the Unirea Sports Club engaged in were more leisure activities than competitive sport, but this did not render them any less important. In this category was skating on the city’s lake when it froze over in the winter of 1924-1925, and boating practiced in 1927 with seven boats on the same lake.

Regardless of how well it performed competitively, the club enlivened the day-to-day life of Alba Iulia. On 13 November 1924, the municipality approved the request of general secretary of the club, Octavian Oreștian, to use the room of Caragiale Theatre for the organization of social gatherings. The next year, on 17 October, to mark the beginning of grape harvesting Unirea Sport Club organized a dance party with society games, a beauty contest, confetti and serpentines at Hotel Europa. The entrance fee of 25 Lei and the advance gratitude for generous donors betray the fund raising aim of the event. (V.M.)