History

The Madrid Lions Rugby Football Club was founded in September 1997, inspired, as the jersey suggests, by the hugely successful British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa of that summer and its popularity has amply fulfilled the hopes and expectations of principal founders Charlie Humphrey and Henry Macdonald. As a forum for likeminded enthusiasts who want to be involved with social rugby in all its aspects and enjoy the camaraderie that is a hallmark of the game, the club is unique on the Madrid sports scene.

The success of the Lions has revealed a previously unfulfilled demand in Madrid for a club of this type. To date there have been over 500 playing and social members on the Lions’ books, and although the nature of the club is such that there is a fairly rapid turnover of players only in Madrid for limited periods, there is a strong and ever growing backbone of permanent members.

The Lions play only friendly matches and are affiliated to the Comunidad de Madrid’s sports section and to the Federacion de Rugby de Madrid (Madrid Rugby Union) who facilitates the players with the compulsory legal insurance coverage. While British expatriates are in the majority at present, the membership includes many French, Spaniards and other nationalities indeed it is an objective to maintain an international flavour as a distinguishing mark of the club. The club has fielded as many as 13 nationalities in the same match (that’s counting English, Scottish, Welsh and obviously Irish as 4 separate ones). Matches are played on a variety of good quality hired pitches in and around Madrid, usually at the all weather Puerta de Hierro pitch; the club also has an annual tour and hosts visiting teams from abroad and often takes part in end season 7 tournaments.

Some of the club’s regular activities are a weekly training session and a gathering every Thursday night at our pub clubhouse Finnegan’s, where the big rugby games on satellite TV can always be viewed.

The Madrid Lions R.F.C. welcome playing and social members of all ages and playing abilities, offering fun and enjoyment on and off the field in the true Corinthian spirit and as an added bonus, there are also several lady social members, who considerably enhance club events with their presence!

Our founders

Beyond the simple curiosity of knowing who founded the club, it is also useful for any new member to now a bit about the founders of the Lions.

There is a rumour that the first Chairman of the club, Henry Macdonald, far from promoting rugby in the Spanish capital, was actually using the club as a clever way to coverup activities involving MI6. In 8 years of chairmanship, no one was able to discover his profession, nor his reasons for frequently travelling to the most remote parts of the Empire. He hardly even tried to hide his retirement from active service when he moved back to the mother country in 2006!

The case of our second president, Charles Humphrey is very different but of vital relevance. A distinguished and discerning client of numerous Madrid establishments, his experience in this area has led him to invent an alcoholic concoction to delight the most demanding of palates (his being the most demanding of all) which he christened – Charlie Special. Given that there is a good chance a waiter might be at a loss as to what such a thing might contain, any Lion wishing to buy their chairman a drink has little option but to memorize the composition of this very special cocktail:

In a pint glass filled with ice add:

3yr old Bacardi Rum (Spanish measure of course),

1 half lemon squeezed,

1 diet coke,

Stirred, not shaken.

(Rumour has it that his drinking preferences have evolved the times they are changing so make sure to ask which special number it is before ordering)

Some of our captains

John Wilson was team Captain during season 2002-2003. Probably the youngest man to lead the Lions, John was an English scrawny back row with a knack for coming up with the ball. Rarely leaving the pitch without bleeding, John then delighted the pub with verses from the Sloop John a curious condition of holding the Lions Captaincy that you have to love singing (you don’t need to be good at it, but you need to love it!). As good as he was on the pitch, John was a real disappointment off it. Drunk after half a shandy (no exaggeration), he once went up to Javier Bardem and a friend in Finnegan’s and asked for an autograph. The actor started to take out a pen when John shot him a look and said – not you mate and gesturing to his drinking buddy and said – this guys the captain of the Spanish rugby team. Javier Bardem was dumbfounded and we never found out if John really knew who Javier Bardem was or not.

Another exCaptain and great friend, Paul Fleming looked the consummate 2nd row all the way. Tall, bald, cauliflower ears and a look which could wither flowers, he could win the ball from any lineout with his magnetic hands and then he turn his back to the opposition, plant his feet, hold the ball out towards his forwards and expect us to do all the work from there on! But that was if he got going. During warmups and sometimes during the match, he come up to other players and demand that they punch him or slap him in the face to get his adrenalin flowing. After the match, he liked a drop of cider and a sing song, we compete for Alouette but he come out with The Warriors and wed all try and catch all 6ft4 of him as he launched off a table.

Castilla La Mancha Championship

A few clubs from Castilla La Mancha and Murcia (Albacete, Ciudad Real, Murcia, Talavera de la Reina and Toledo), being orphans of the federation, decided to organise a regional championship for the 2004-2005 season, and they suggested that the Madrid Lions R.F.C. join them. Unfortunately, even though the competition looked promising and its size tailored to our needs, after the first matches it became clear that it would fail due to the lack of seriousness of some teams and the distances involved. The project did fail, but some veterans who played during that season remember that besides the individual victories, this was where the club won its only league title for the simple fact that they managed to get a team to every match.

Paul Anderson

The loss of a loved one is always painful. The Lions lost their first member on the 10th of August 2006 when Paul Anderson lost his long battle against cancer. Paul will always be remembered as one of the founder and stalwart members of the Madrid Lions R.F.C., editor of the fist issues of the club’s newsletter – From the Lions Mouth – an excellent sport and an extremely competitive player, both on and off the field, while still successfully combining his allegiance with CAU, his former rugby club in Madrid. One of his great memories and achievements in his late playing years was to have played for the Madrid Lions R.F.C. against Steve Bainbridge, a former British Lion lock and forward like himself, and succeeding in not allowing him to exploit his fortitude or game skills.

Paul was a man of principles in all aspects of life and particularly about the game of rugby, the curse of mediocre referees and the moaner we all loved. He always made his presence felt watching internationals live on the box, be it at Nicks place, Finbar or Finnegan’s, and his loud commentaries were always expected and greeted by the audience (Every time referee!!). He was married to Ana who he had a son with, Liam Douglas, and he was only 46 years old. We celebrate a rugby tournament in his memory every second Saturday in May.

The Lions Anthem

Any member of the club who has experienced a Lions – tercer tiempo – will have heard what has now become the unofficial anthem – Because I’m Lion – sung to the tune of Afroman – Because I Got High – was written by Paul Devlin in a haze of Patxaran on the bus up to the Basque Country at the start of the 2008 – Motown Tour – to Getxo. With help from then Captain Christopher Holloway, verses were scribbled on wrinkled sheets of paper that sought to capture something of what it meant to be a Lion. First heard in an impromptu performance over the microphone of the tour coach to a delighted audience, the song soon stuck and the rest, as they say, is history. Although verses have been added (unfortunately for the baffled Spanish sides who have to sit through all 9 or so of them) and the odd name changed, the song still represents fairly faithfully the experience of playing for this very unique team and never fails to stir the emotions of its members. Because they are Lions.

Lyrics

I never learned to pass, because I’m a Lion,

Don’t run particularly fast, because I’m a Lion,

It ain’t no champagne rugby, it’s Bulmer’s and Wine

(Why man? Hey HEYYY)

because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion.

La dada da da da,

I sit out the 2nd half, because I’m a Lion,

I’m 43 and a 1/2, because I’m a Lion,

Got missed calls from the wife, and I know why,

(Why man? Hey HEYYY)

because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion.

La dada da da da,

I’ve played as everything, because I’m a Lion

I’ve played flanker, I’ve played on the wing, because I’m a Lion

But I’m f***ked if I’ll play prop, and I know why,

(Why man? Hey HEYYY!)

because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion.

La dada da da da,

Not sure if I’ll play at all, because I’m a Lion

Ignore the early wake up call, because I’m a Lion,

But when I hear that – JOHNNY SCOTT BALL!

I’m there every time!

(Why man? Hey HEYYY!)

because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion.

La dada da da da,

I don’t pay match fees, because I’m a Lion,

I spend my time dodging Xabi, because I’m a Lion,

F**k YOU, I drink for free, and I know why,

(Why man? Hey HEYYY!)

because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion

La dada da da da,

Don’t speak Castellano, because I’m a Lion,

Don’t know my culo from my mano, because I’m a Lion,

PERO COMPRENDO – TERCER TIEMPO – and I know why,

¿POR QUE?!!!!

because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion.

La dada da da da,

Our Captain’s attractively fat, because he’s a Lion,

He changed his name to Cat, BUT HE’S A LION,

And now I play for Islam, and I know why,

(Why man? YUSSSUUUUUFFFF!!!)

because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion

La dada da da da,

I’m learning Colombian, because I’m a Lion,

I sing Reggaeton, because I’m a Lion,

No se dice Tio se dice Huevon, and I know why,

(Why man? Hey HEYYY!)

because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion.

La dada da da da,

I don’t push in the scrums, because I’m a Lion,

Take a snooze on Porno’s bum, because I’m a Lion,

And as for hookers, we’ve got Paddy’s mum!, and I know why,

(Why man? Hey HEYYY!)

because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion, because I’m a Lion.

LA DADA DA DA DA DAAAAAA,

Lyrics: P.Devlin, C.Holloway

 

Finnegan’s Sponsorship

While it goes without saying that the club greatly appreciates any financial support, we believe it is important to give special thanks toFinnegan’s and especially all their wonderful staff, thanks to the crucial help of this collaborator, sponsoring the Madrid Lions R.F.C. during the 2012 – 2013 season. Their invaluable support has allowed the Lions to be more ambitious when it comes to training, playing and sharing our passion for rugby with an ever increasing number of players and clubs without ever having to compromise our core values.

LIONS-SPONSOR