Born in the surroundings of Santa Clara de Daule, little Julio should not have deprived himself of immersing himself in the freshwater spa of Virgen de Lourdes, but he never had to imagine that, with the passing of the years, he was going to become a popular character, of those who, without ardent speeches, would win the affection of the soccer people.
Julio Espinoza Campos was born in 1926. In his childhood, he never tired of kicking the rag ball in the dusty streets of the neighborhood. Julio, through the radio, he learned that there was a soccer team in Guayaquil that the shirtless people adored. He heard that Barcelona goalkeeper Rigoberto Sweet bread Aguirre, had been able to stop a penalty with his forehead to the infallible Ramón Manco Unamuno. In Espinoza’s imagination, the feeling for the yellow shirt was growing, which made him mad little by little.
When he arrived in Guayaquil, it did not take long to convince himself that Barcelona was the team of his loves and he began to visit the George Capwell stadium, located in the popular one that overlooks Quito street, which was the one destined for the shirtless cholos, those to those who liked to adjust listening to Julio Jaramillo. Espinoza already identified Barcelona, as the poet Fernando Artieda later described: “Barcelona was flooded with a sucking and poor Guayaquil, the one that walked by bus or accompanied on foot to the funerals of its dead, the one that played shirtless ball in the middle of the street”.
While all this was happening, Espinoza Campos from Daule had noticed that a harmonious and ardent sound was beginning to be heard on the popular tray, as if it were a bell. Its sound waves traveled through the air and were responsible for celebrating some caper of the Cholo Sigifredo Chuchuca, or Enrique’s bicycle Birdie Songs, or a great rejection of Juan Zambo Benitez. Legend has it that it was exactly one bell that used to excite not only the yellow bar, but also the players themselves, who interpreted that this art of ringing came from the tablados and produced additional inspiration in the moments when the team needed it most.
The journalist and also poet from Guayaquil Mario Chausón Valdez, in the book of his authorship History of Barcelona SC 1925-2002He explained on the matter: “It was not a bell, although it sounded like one. It was a metallic triangle beaten by a small tube, also made of metal ”.
The small triangle, possibly made of steel, had a small chain at its top from which it was supported. Don Victoriano Arteaga Martinetti, one of the founders and former president of the club, had commented to him and confirmed by Ricardo Chacón García, that several wealthy partners paid the entrance to the bell ringer and that one day, as he appeared, he disappeared. It was never known who it was, only a worker in a foundry near Capwell Stadium is suspected.
A legacy reinvented
The phenomenon of that sound, which without being strident seduced that yellow mass that boiled with passion for its team in the virtues of triumph and the excuses of defeats, no longer consisted of a primitive pleasure, but an emotional habit. Espinoza, in his sentimental fragility, convinced himself that he should continue it and, from his deepest imagination, found that a metal rim of a rim could generate a peculiar sound.
He decided to declare himself the biggest bell ringer of Barcelona and for this he also took possession of a space in the recently inaugurated Modelo stadium. He found it in the upper section of the rostrum, below the radio booths. It was the exact place for its function. There the legend of the Bell man, which inspired poets, politicians and songbooks to include the sound of the major bell ringer as a sign of the identity of Barcelona. The emerald-born Julio Micolta Cuero, in his poem Barcelona is splendor, includes in its second verse: “There are tolls of bells, the consecrated voice of the bar, of the fans, of immense caravans sounds.”
Jaime Nebot Saadi, with a preface, wrote: “If an outsider were to ask what Barcelona is, they would have to be told that it is an emotion without translation, an icon embedded in the soul of the people, that’s the hood team”. Or what the old Héctor Napolitano says, when singing to Barcelona: “For those who are lucky enough to wear the yellow, to win is our goal, respect for the shirt and the blow of the bell.”
For almost five decades, Espinoza proudly wore his sentiment on a stand of T-shirts, sports memorabilia and magazines on the corner of Boyacá and Vélez, and later in Chile and Aguirre. According to Jacinta Aguilar, her husband had to sell the traditional tire ring, with the pain in his soul. And he did it to treat an illness, something that he regretted until the day he died. According to versions, who bought him the traditional bell was a Colombian who lived in the United States. He paid $ 500.
The death of Espinoza, considered the number one fan of Barcelona, received in the transfer to his last resting place, on July 2, 2007, the goodbye as he dreamed it: accompanied by a multitude of fans of the team of his loves. The coffin with the team’s flag came out from Eighth and Sucre streets. He passed by the Jesús Obrero church, where a present body mass was offered, until at 4:00 p.m. a Fire Department vehicle, which he also served as a volunteer, took him to door 6 of the General Cemetery. There were not only former presidents of the club, former players … All, in unison with the people who accompanied him, sang “Julio does not go, Julio does not go.”
In local memory
There are sporting events and others off the pitch that the Barcelona fan will never be able to forget. They are the triumph over the great Colombian Millonarios del Dorado in 1949; the Hazaña de la Plata with the goal of priest Juan Manuel Bazurco in 1971; when Wilfrido Rumbea, one of the most important presidents of Barcelona in 1953, established “Yesterday, today and forever Barcelona” as the idol’s motto; and, of course, the infinite chime of Espinoza.
Undoubtedly, the man with the bell is on the select list of popular characters in Guayaquil, as the writer Germán Arteta Vargas well lists, among some: Dr. Juan Carbo Noboa, astronomer Eloy Ortega, Pedro Camposano Ramos , Chicken, CARR, Gallo Giro Hungary, Carlos Rubira Infante, the King of the Biscuit, María sin gut or the Chest of Paloma, the Loco Matute, the King of the quarry, Eusebio Macías and also the “man with the bell”.
The Municipality of Guayaquil recognized Espinoza with a sculpture on 9 de Octubre and Vélez streets. In that statue he poses on his wooden bench with the rim that made him famous for pedestrians to remember.
Going to the Modelo stadium, watching the Astillero idol play and not hearing the sound of the Espinoza bell ringer was something similar to what Eduardo Galeano would repeat if a passionate fan did not explode with passion on the platform: “It’s like dancing without music.” (OR)