Sete Rios Football Field

1913/14 – 1916/17

The Benfica’s going to Sete Rios has determined the acquisition of new supporters in another area of the city.

The Benfica’s moving to Sete Rios has determined the acquisition of new supporters in another area of the city, as well as the existence of a ground to introduce new sports in the Club: Tennis, Swimming and Water Polo. In 1908, when it was known that there was financial capacity to extend the rental contract in Quinta da Feiteira, the administrators took care of the diligences to solve the problem. But, only at the end of 1912, with Cosme Damião’s action, it was possible to rent a ground (250$00 a year, semi-annual instalments).

This land, called Quinta Nova, was a possession of Casa Palmela, of which Cosme Damião was a secretary. Benfica was moving, then, to a place where football was dominating, as in the same area there were two other fields, both inaugurated with the Benfica’s participation: The Palhavã, property of SC Império (inaugurated on 29/10/1911, with the Benfica’s victory over the local club, by 8-2) and Laranjeiras, property of Internacional (CIF) – inaugurated on 01/12/1911.

For the Quinta Nova’s acquisition and its adaptation to a field of play, Benfica has initiated an open subscription, to raise funds. After the rental (by the end of 1912 and the beginning of 1913) – next to the railway station of Sete Rios (with the entrance through Estrada de Palhavã) – the preparation of the works was initiated, with the elaboration of the field’s project (still without stands) and raising special funds to face the extraordinary cleaning costs and to fix the soil, in order to transform it into a sports park.

The Benfica’s moving to Sete Rios has determined the acquisition of new supporters in another area of the city, as well as the existence of a ground to introduce new sports in the Club.


Therefore, it was necessary to conciliate the two realities – to start working with, practicably, no money and, under the possibilities, to find it quickly. The decision was to count on the “Benfiquistas” (supporters), not only as a labour resource, but, also, through a voluntary subscription, each one participating in accordance with the possessions. The enthusiasm never lacked. As a consequence, it was possible to start the operations to fix the soil, with the natural wish to improve and turn it into the best of all the existing grounds in Lisbon. The slogan was: “para a frente” (Up to the front). And just a few members missed the call.

In a short time, an agricultural land was transformed into a wide one, with a soil prepared to become a sporting field. The operation marked a time of great incentive inside the club, which had already, by that time the statute of the most popular among all the Portuguese sporting teams. The effort of all members was remarkable – by means of their possibilities (work or few money). The circumstances led to a kind of “collective fever”. Board directors, athletes, members, contributors, or just supporters of our club and teams, all involved, in a spirit of effort and cooperation.

On certain Sundays, there was no stopping or resting. By the morning, stones were carried, plants removed and bushes were ripped off; then after was the popular lunch of fraternization – normally it was a “bacalhauzada” (codfish) with potatoes; later on, if there was a match of any of our teams, they were moving to the field determined, in order to watch it; and at last, at the end of the day, tired but still excited, they used to scream with one voice: “Viva o Benfica”.

In the two seasons, between the Feiteira’s exit (1911) and the inauguration of Sete Rios (1913), Benfica in 1911/12 and 1912/13 used the Campo Palhavã (of SC Império) and Campo Laranjeiras (of CIF) to play home matches, for the Campeonato Regional de Lisboa. And the truth is that this situation did not affected the team’s performance, which won two titles during the period. The Sete Rios field was ready for the beginning of the 1913/14 season and for the initial training sessions. It was with joy and confidence that the Associação de Futebol de Lisboa’s (AFL) homologation was expected.

On 12/10/1913, in front of about 5 000 people – an unusual number, by that time, for sporting activities-, the AFL opened the 1913/14 season. In the most important match, for the Regional de Lisboa, Benfica won against Sporting, at home, 4-0. The new field caused some astonishment, because of the construction’s celerity and its position: at the end of the field was built a wooden “chalet”, strategically placed next to a water mill, where Benfica had the showers and “toilette”.

On 12/10/1913, in front of about 5 000 people, the new field caused some astonishment, because of the construction’s celerity and its position.


In order to facilitate and extend the action of the collectivity, it was felt the necessity to improve the new field in accordance with the possibilities, the stands in particular (desired years ago for Quinta da Feiteira), in order to offer better conditions to the spectators and increase the attendance levels. On 11/04/1915, after the beautification of the entire space, Benfica, with 11 years of activity, finally had a field surrounded by stands.

On May 29th, of the same year, it was inaugurated the first tennis “court”, just like other clubs which loved to show their “lawn-tennis”, with the particularity of giving access to all the “benfiquistas”. Taking advantage of an old irrigation tank, the Swimming was introduced in the club (in 1914) and the Water Polo (in 1916)! In Football, Benfica has continued to win titles and tournaments, showing more and more that was the best Portuguese club – 3 regional titles (13/14, 15/16 and 16/17), a “Taça de Portugal” (Portuguese Cup) tournament (13/14) and the Torneio Internacional “Quatro Cidades” (15/16) – the last one with a concluding winning against the proclaimed “campeão do norte” (champion of the north), the FC Porto, by 9-0!



On 17/09/1916, it was defined with Desportos de Benfica the basis for the junction of both institutions, being decided that, in spite of having an athletic field in backyards of Avenida Gomes Pereira (headquarter), the Campo de Sete Rios will be kept – as it was more centralized – until ascertaining the costs of the maintenance, it could bring advantages (or not). It happened that the land owner, on the 20th and 26/06/1917 (a few months before the end of the rental contract), endorsed two letters to the benfica’s Board, asking for a place, day and time for a meeting, with the purpose to “make some changes to the contract, for a new rental period, starting on January 1st, 1918.

The changes were after written on the following terms: an annual income of 650$00; the contributions (more than 40$00 per year) became a tenant’s responsibility; betterments and works done, or to be done, using any type of materials, would be the owner’s responsibility; the tenant would be forced to remove, or, at least, to spread uniformly, all around the soil, if it was the owner’s wish, the rubble coming from the field and which was elevating the general side; it would be a 3-year contract, with no right to a compensatory indemnity, in case of the land’s expropriation by the Câmara Municipal (City Council).

These conditions were considered absolutely unacceptable by all the administrators present at the meeting, on 13/08/1917. On December 31st of the same year, the Board decided, while trying to solve the problem created by the owner (in the best way), to leave Sete Rios and to remedy the situation with the Benfica’s field, after being well adapted. The last match was on 27/05/1917, against Sporting (L 1-4), final of Taça de Honra. Benfica was moving, then, to Quinta de Marrocos, at the back of Avenida Gomes Pereira, where there was a wide headquarter since 17/09/1916 (former facilities of Desportos de Benfica).

Nowadays, the land of Sete Rios, where our club used to play, was sacrificed for the urban expansion, from Lisbon to the north, being occupied by buildings and respective yards, in the block delimited by the Prof. Lima Basto street (old Estrada de Palhavã), Dr. António Granjo street, Dr. António Martins street and by the railway’s internal line, next to the station of Sete Rios. After 4 glorious seasons, the club was returning to Benfica, collecting the “fruit seeds” which were left over there, in 1911.

Campo de Sete Rios - Caracteristics

Name:
Campo de Sete Rios

Location:
At Quinta Nova, next to the railway station of Sete Rios, with the entrance through Estrada de Palhavã.

Ocuppation time:
Between January 1913 and December 31st, 1917

Current situation:
Buildings and respective yards in the block delimited by the Prof. Lima Basto street (old Estrada de Palhavã), Dr. António Granjo street, Dr. António Martins street and by the railway’s internal line.

Kind of property:
Land rented by 125 Escudos (125$00) / Semester

Inauguration and first match dates:
12/10/1913 - match against Sporting, for the Regional de Lisboa (V 4-0)

Last match date:
27/05/1917 against Sporting (L 1-4) Taça de Honra final.

Other facilities:
In 1913 : utilization of a wooden “chalet”, for showers and “toilette”. On 29/05/1915: Inauguration of the Lawn-Tennis court. In 1916: utilization of an irrigation tank for Swimming.

Abandonment reason:
The changing to the contract, to start on 01/01/1908, was considered absolutely unacceptable, especially the annual income of 650$00.
On the other hand, the club had a ground at the back of the headquarter, where football was played since 1914.

Date Result Observations
12/10/1913 4 - SL Benfica
0 - Sporting CP
Inauguration of the Field.
01/01/1916 9 - SL Benfica
0 - FC Porto
Great result against Porto’s regional champion.
27/02/1916 7 - SL Benfica
0 - Real C Fortuna de Vigo
Conclusive victory in a friendly match.
25/02/1917 8 - SL Benfica
0 - Lisboa FC
Significant result for the Regional de Lisboa, with 7-0 at the halftime.


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