It is accepted that Athletic Club, one of the Special One Football Clubs, wore blue and white colours at the beginning of the 20th century. The books reveal that Athletic Club departed to England in order to acquire more football shirts and since in the Britain islands the tissue was made with more quality and fitted better Athletic’s demands, the Basque region team did not hesitate to set off to buy stock in England.
As Bilbao is a stone’s throw away from England and the journey was no difficult, Athletic Club’ representatives decided to pick up Sunderland jersey as there were not Blackburn Rovers shirts left.
This article gives us more information about Athletic Club’s jersey history. In 1894 a local Bilbao newspaper launched an advertisement to help grow football within the region of Basque. The advertisement challenged English sailors to a game against the local people which was played on the 3rd May that year, and resulted in the 6-0 thrashing of the Spaniards. The English were from the port of Sunderland and wore the red and white of Sunderland AFC during the game. Although the match was a significant loss the sport gained huge popularity from the locals, Ultimately changing the outlook in the Basque region forever.
Athletic Club originally set out wearing quartered blue and white shirts; similarly worn by Blackburn Rovers. In 1910 the club changed its colours to red and white. The colours were a cheap alternative to the blue and white and was inspired by the English ship workers from Sunderland who regularly visit the Bilbao port. The red and white was a perfect fit for the club, which also reflected parts of the Basque flag.
There’s also a story of Arthur Pentland co-founding Athletic club, whilst working within the city’s dockyards, changing the clubs kit to resemble that of Sunderland AFC. The links between Sunderland AFC and Athletic Club De Bilbao will be forever debated for years to come.