Friday, 10 March 2017

Sporting Sherry Labels

Designs for Sherry labels have often followed themes such as Flamenco or bullfighting, but many other themes have been explored, and in the late XIX century when all kinds of new sports were introduced they naturally appeared as a theme, with bodegas hoping that these new activities would help them sell more Sherry. Many of the new sports had been imported from England, along with English fashions for the new breed of “Sherry Gentlemen”, since ties were so close with this huge market. Jerez was the place where many sports made their first appearance in Spain.


The area has long been famous for horses and the famous beach races in Sanlúcar were established in 1845, but they are almost certainly older. The first racetrack in Jerez was constructed in 1868 though horse racing had been practiced since at least 1843.The Jockey Club was established in 1868 and became the Royal Jockey Club in 1929.


The next sporting innovation was polo, brought by the British from India. It was introduced to Jerez in 1870 by the great sportsman Pedro Nolasco González Soto, son of the founder of González Byass, who had studied in England. He imported all the necessary ponies, balls and mallets.


1868 saw the foundation of the Gun Club, later renamed Royal Pigeon Shooting Club, whose members shot both live birds and clay ones. Dead birds were sometimes given to the needy. Interestingly, Osborne’s bodega El Tiro in El Puerto is so named because its site is a former clay pigeon shooting ground (pigeon shooting in Spanish is “tiro de pichón”).


Towards the end of the XIX century hare coursing and greyhound racing clubs were established, but the big one was lawn tennis, also introduced by Pedro Nolasco González Soto who rode around Jerez on a penny farthing bicycle. With the advent of more practical bicycles, the Veloz-Club de Jerez was established in 1891 with its own velodrome. Much cycle racing took place on its track and there were many touring events.

Manuel Lacasa with the Veloz Club in the background (foto:coleccionrafamontano)

At the same time the public took to the bicycle as an economical means of transport, especially the upper classes. Near the velodrome some of the English bodegueros used to play cricket. Around 1870 football was introduced, but it would not be until 1907 when the Sociedad Jerez Football Club was founded by Sir Thomas Spencer of Williams & Humbert. Even “beisbol” (baseball) was introduced.

Many of these sports are still practised, but nowadays there are many more such as motor racing at the Jerez Circuit, rugby, water polo, swimming, golf, basketball and padel. There is a railway club and a cine club among many others. You'll never be bored in Jerez!

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