How Clubs Got Their Colours: Boca Juniors

Boca's Bombonera (Chocolate Box) stadium on match day. Credit: Pablo Dodda via Creative Commons

Boca’s Bombonera (Chocolate Box) stadium on match day.
Credit: Pablo Dodda via Creative Commons

Boca Juniors is the famous blue and yellow half of the Argentine capital Buenos Aires. Although the club trails its cross-city Superclásico rivals River Plate in domestic championships (36 to 30), Boca claims to enjoy stronger public support throughout the country.

Club Atlético Boca Juniors was formed in the capital’s rough port area of La Boca (The Mouth) – named after the point where the Riachelo river meets the bigger Río de la Plata – in 1905. Its founders were five Italian immigrants from Genoa, which in turn spawned the nickname ‘Xeneizes’ (Genoese) for its fans.

However, but for the need for a replacement shirt, those 30 domestic titles and six Copa Libertadores may never have been won in the famous azul y amarillo (blue and yellow) at all.

It wasn’t always blue and yellow for Boca…

Boca’s original shirt in 1905 was a white shirt with thin black vertical stripes before migrating to a celeste (sky blue) later that same year. There then followed a year of thin blue vertical stripes until 1906 when, according to legend, Boca played against the similar-shirted Nottingham de Almagro to decide who would keep that shirt. Boca lost.

The famous blue and yellow of Boca Juniors is down to a shipping company. Credit: Borja Garcia de Sola Fernandez via Creative Commons

The famous blue and yellow of Boca Juniors is down to a shipping company.
Credit: Borja Garcia de Sola Fernandez via Creative Commons

The club agreed to adopt the colours of the flag of the first ship to sail into port, which was the Swedish Drottning Sophia. Blue and yellow it was, originally as a diagonal stripe and then, since 1913 to the present day, as a horizontal band.

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I have seen rumours of Boca originally playing in pink, reflected in recent away kits, but apparently there is some conjecture over whether or not this really happened.

La Boca itself is well worth a visit, in particular the San Telmo flea market on a Sunday. I went in 2000 and unfortunately mistimed my visit as there was no home game. I will return…

For more on Boca’s history (in Spanish), visit the club’s official website.

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