'Building the Penya!'

Dani Fernández was Joventut's first modern manager, key to its successes. His son recovers in a book the history of his father and a part of Spanish basketball.


Daniel Fernández Mercadé (1929-2015) became known as the Catalan Raimundo Saporta. A key figure in the modernization of Spanish basketball in the 60s and 70s of the last century. First he was a player and then he acted as a coach and manager, a task in which he left a deep mark on Joventut de Badalona between 1960 and 1976. Later he directed the Barcelona section. He also served as a patron, when he was a productive builder, and was a key contributor to the upkeep of Rebote magazine. It promoted the minibasket and participated as a federation in the autonomous, national and European sphere.

The historic Nino Buscató, star of the green-black club and the Spanish National Team, assures that for him “Dani was like a father”. The two, one as a manager and the other as a player, formed together with coach Eduardo Kucharski an inseparable trio that gave Joventut glory days and a League and two Cups. Fernández Mercadé's idea was to create “a strong sense of identity”, as Buscató says, who did not sign for Real Madrid because his friend convinced him to stay with him in Badalona. Despite the pumpkins, both earned the recognition of Saporta himself, responsible for white basketball at the time and a great figure in the offices of the last century, for their loyalty.The figure of Daniel Fernández was fundamental for the construction of the Ausiàs March pavilion, inaugurated in 1972, in time for the successful Eurobasket of 1973, an innovative venue for the time and that helped take a step forward to the Penya "without costing the club". A heritage with which years later allowed the entity with its sale to save a delicate economic situation.

With the protagonist of our story at the helm, La Penya signed its first foreigner in 1975 (the American Frank Costello). And that after having previously defended the inclusion in the statutes of the obligation to hire only Spanish players; but then he changed his mind and came to the conclusion that the signing of foreigners was the only way to make a competitive leap. That internal pulse, which generated great tensions, perhaps ended up causing his departure from the club, after winning the battle, in July 1976. Shortly after, in 1977, the Yugoslav Zoran Slavnic arrived, with whom the green and black, no longer the manager, they would celebrate their second League and in 1980 Joe Galvin, the hero of the Korac Cup, would land the first continental trophy of Joventut.

Dani, as they knew him, also made friends among the opponents and, then, the great rival was the Madrid of an Emiliano Rodríguez with whom he maintained a close friendship, according to the former merengue player. He does so in the presentation of the book entitled Building the Penya!, In which the author, Pepe Fernández-Capo, brings us closer to the life of his father after five years of work, initially with a more familiar intention, of memory and memory of his deceased father, but the end result has been a work of great interest to those who lived through that basketball in Spain, which was beginning to modernize and reappear before the thunderous boom of the 1980s.

Basketball was Fernández Mercadé's passion and he would come to Joventut out of love, when the one who would later become his father-in-law, Salvador Capo, a great green-black fan, forced him to become a partner to allow him to go out with his daughter Pepita. A beautiful story with a happy ending.

The book Building the Penya! at this link.

The author, Pepe Fernández-Capo (Barcelona, 1970), son of Daniel Fernández Mercadé, is a doctor in Veterinary Medicine from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. He has completed the General Management program at IESE. He has experience in teaching and consulting, and has directed educational entities. He is also the author of several scientific articles, both in the field of veterinary medicine and syndonology (study of the Holy Shroud) .

Photos from as.com
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