Thursday, June 28, 2012

Launching with a bang

The Israel State Archives in Jerusalem is pleased to launch an English-language blog. Our purpose, as our title suggests, will be to tell stories about Israel based on the rich collections of documentation in the posession of the Israel State Archives (ISA).

It will probably take us a bit of time to find our voice; for the first few weeks we'll mostly experiment: so bear with us, tell us what you like and what not, and feel free to make suggestions comments or criticism. So: enough with the theory, let's get started.

Over the weekend 96.7% of the population of Europe, 62,3% of the world's male population, and about 0.32% of the population of the USA, will be glued to their TV screens watching the final round of the European cup. Football, of course. No, not that kind, real football, the kind the Americans call soccer. Who'd going to win? No idea, but it won't be the French. Nor the Brits. (I can't vouch for the spectator statistics, either).

Why does this belong on a blog from an archives? Because, it just so happens, the ISA has this cool little film from what may have been the most important match of the 1930s, or at least the most important match in Tel Aviv of 1935: Maccabi against Hapoel. It was their fifth official encounter, and so far, Hapoel had always won. The entire league had all of six teams: Hapoel, Maccabi and Hakoach Tel Aviv, Maccabi Petach Tikva, Maccabi Nes Ziona, and Hapoel Haifa. You can read all about this here.

Apparently some 8,000 spectators turned out to see the game, and that's only counting the ones who paid for tickets. It must have been rather cold, as you'll see from the warm clothing the spectators are wearing. The grass was merely dusty dirt. There seem to have been no advertisements along the sidelines. The tallest building beyond the field has two stories. Some of the spectators seem quite well dressed; as for the street urchins, I suppose some of them may still be alive, watching the Eurocup with their great-grandsons.

The level of the game probably wasn't high; in those days the Yishuv wasn't yet producing nop-notch athletes. Nowadays it's diferent. The skyline of tel Aviv looks like this:
And Bloomfield stadium looks like this:

And, just like in 1935, there's not much about Israel's athletes to write home about.

The 1935 match, by the way, ended in a 0-0 draw, and apparently everyone felt their side had lost. But Maccabi did eventually top the league in 1936.