Club The Strongest is a Bolivianfootball club based in La Paz founded on 8 April 1908. Their team colours are yellow and black. Although they have a home ground, the Rafael Mendoza Castellón (capacity: 15,000), they play most of their games at the Estadio Hernando Siles, Bolivia's national ground (capacity: 42,000). The club is the oldest active football club in Bolivia and the only team to have played continuously in the country's top Division for longer than a century.
The Strongest were originally known as "The Strong Football Club", before later becoming "The Strongest Football Club". Its first President and founder was José León López Villamil. Its first championship was in 1911, well before any of the current Bolivian teams had even been created.
In 1930, The Strongest became the first and only Bolivian team to win a League championship with no goals scored against them. The same year, The Strongest inaugurated the "Hernando Siles" stadium, with a 4–1 victory against its classical rival (at the time), Universitario.
In 1965, The Strongest participated in its first Copa Libertadores, at a time when only national champions were entered into the tournament. The Strongest scored Bolivia's first victory outside of the country on a club level, defeating Deportivo Quito. The team finished 2nd in its group that year, second to Boca Juniors (Argentina).
The highest achievement in an international competition for The Strongest was achieved in the 2005 Copa Sudamericana, when the squad led by coach Villegas eliminated its classic rivals with two 2–1 victories in La Paz, in front of a packed stadium. Later, the team went on to defeat Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito (Ecuador) – including a 3–0 victory in Quito. The Strongest was eliminated by Pumas UNAM (Mexico), who later went on to become runners-up to cup winners Boca Juniors (Argentina).
The Strongest adopted the yellow and black stripes upon foundation in 1908. While looking for a proper uniform, a friend sent the founders a shirt from Germany that sported a dark green with horizontal, yellow stripes. Upon this, one of the founders commented on how a local bird, the Chayñita, had similar colors. The club adopted the idea and since 1908, the main outfit has been vertically striped yellow and black with a varying number of stripes.
The supplementary uniform has commonly been white with yellow and black, though there have been several other combinations such as a full yellow top and black shorts and even full yellow outfit. More recently, an all black secondary uniform has been adopted for Cup matches.
Many people say that the similarity between the Penarol Club of Montevideo, Uruguay, suggests that due to lack of originality, The Strongest imitated those colors. However, the more versed will know that Penarol did not adopt a full striped kit until the 1905 season and was an unknown team at the time (won 4 titles in its 24 year existence, up to that point).
First team to win an organized football Championship in the country (Copa Prefectural 1911, organized by the regional government),
First team to win an official title (organized by an official football entity) (Campeonato Liga 1914, organized by the LPFA),
First team to win the country's current Top Division title: Liga Profesional de Fútbol Boliviano (1977),
First undefeated champion in the country (1914 League, 6 wins and 1 tie),
First multiple champion of the Bolivian football (six straight league titles after 1916),
Only team to finish a season with no goals against (1930 LPFA Championship),
Only team to have won all the official titles in an entire decade (between 1916 and 1925),
Only Bolivian team to win a title in several categories (Champion LPFA 1914 and Champion Second Division 1914),
Only "hexacampeon" (six consecutive league tiles) in the Bolivian football,
First Bolivian team to win a game abroad in an official cup (1–0 in Ecuador against Deportivo Quito for the 1965 Copa Libertadores de América),
First team in South America to beat a Brazilian team with a difference of 3 goals in the Copa Libertadores de América (2001, 5–1 Juventude),
Oldest Bolivian team, reaching the 100 year milestone playing in the top division,
Only football team in the world to have a battle named after it. In the Chaco War (1932–1935) the players, staff and members of the club enlisted in the Bolivian Army to defend the country against the Paraguayan attack. A division largely composed of these "stronguistas" played a vital part in the Bolivian Army's most important victory. As a result of that, the battle is named "Batalla de Cañada Strongest" in Bolivian history books,
Oldest and one of two teams (with Oriente Petrolero), to have never played in the lower divisions of Bolivian soccer.
First Bolivian team to win three consecutive championship titles and be nominated as the "Tri-Campeones" of Bolivian soccer.
The greatest president in The Strongest's history, he was in charge of the club from 1966 to 1978. In that time, he dealt with the Viloco Tragedy and with many economic hardships, consequent of the political instability of Bolivia and the global economic depression.
One of the greatest achievements was to consolidate the Achumani Sports Complex where the Estadio Rafael Mendoza currently sits. There were many hardships to reach this goal. First, the club had to secure the lands, which were much farther than the small lot the club had in Achumani, near the more centrally located Achumani Market. "Don Rafo", in a meeting with other directors, said that now was the time to stop thinking small and start thinking in the future of the team.
The stadium was built and rebuilt (after the river kept eating away at the foundations for some time) from 1974 to 1986. Along with this, the complex was finished including tennis, racquetball, volleyball, and basketball courts. It also has a swimming pool and dining facilities. It is the location for most meetings and soccer concentrations.
"Don Rafo" is best remembered for his hard work in the Achumani Sports Complex. However, he was also one of the few club presidents to put money into the club. Also, in this time, The Strongest achieved great national and international success. Some events to remember in his presidency are the visit by Pelé's Santos team in 1971, an amazing game against Boca Juniors led by Antonio Roma and Silvio Marzolini, and many national championships including the formation of the Liga de Futbol Profesional Boliviano.
On 24 September 1969, a local holiday, the team was invited to participate on a special game organized by the Asociacion Cruceña de Fubol (Santa Cruz's football association). For the team, it was simply another visit to Santa Cruz. On 14 September, the team had played its last official match and this game was part of a break from their local competition.
On 26 September, the day the team was due to return from Santa Cruz by plane, it was announced that the aircraft carrying most of the team (A Lloyd Aéreo BolivianoDC-6) had disappeared. Incidentally, on the same day, a military government was being established in Bolivia.
A day later, with no real information as to what had happened, the news that the plane had crashed around a rural area called Viloco (between the Tres Cruces Peaks) were received. All 69 passengers and 9 crew members were dead.
The members of the team who died that day were: Eustáquio Ortuño (Coach), José Ayllón (manager), Felipe Aguilar (staff). The 16 players that died were: Armando Angelacio, Hernán Andretta, Orlando Cáceres, Juan Iriondo, Jorge Durán, Julio Díaz, Héctor Marchetti, Angel Porta, Jorge Tapia, Ernesto Villegas, Germán Alcázar, Eduardo Arrigó, Oswaldo Franco, Raúl Farfán, Oscar Flores and Diógenes Torrico.