How a football team from Peru gained a following in the UK

Deportivo Wanka, are a Peruvian football team founded in 1996, that appear to have secured quite a cult following in the United Kingdom. This may well have a lot to do with the rather amusing name and its Onanistic connotations.

Early Christians, such as Clement of Alexandria, while not making explicit reference to Onan, reflects an early Christian view of the abhorrence of spilling seed:

‘Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted. To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature’.

Deportivo Wanka are probably not in any danger of being punished by the hand of God. The Wanka’s this team are named for were actually an Indian people, contemporaries of the Inca, who formerly inhabited the area and after whom the city of Huancayo, the teams base, is named.

The Wanka culture flourished from the Middle to Late Horizon periods (600 - 1532). The Wanka provided stiff resistance to the Inca Empire until their final defeat at the hands of the great Inca leader, Pachacuti who ruled circa 1438 - 1471.

Never wholly subjugated to Inca rule, the Wanka were often embroiled in border disputes with their neighbours the Xauxa, and the Incas describe the Wanka as being continuously plagued by internal disputes. Nevertheless, they became keen allies of Pizarro in his conquest of the Inca Empire. The Wankas also helped the Spanish Crown put down several rebellions in the early decades of colonial rule in Peru, notably the defeat of Francisco Hernández Girón between 1553 and 1554.

The current Deportivo Wanka team is merged with Deportivo Pesquero of Chimbote, although the team are still based in the city of Huancayo. Deportivo Wanka are also represented in the national volleyball league of Peru, and have a very successful team.

Going back to the football, their last First Division participation was in 2004. They protested against their relegation that year and were suspended from participating in any football tournament. In that season, the struggling Wankas moved their home stadium to Cerro de Pasco, which is at an altitude of 4,380m (13,973ft) above sea level. It was hoped that altitude sickness and a lack of oxygen would be a big handicap for visiting sides. Sadly, the quick thinking Wankas were relegated anyway, and shuffled off to the lower division, where they remain.

A popular fan chant is - “Andes, where we can see them, you Wankas”. Indeed, and their relegation certainly proved that they might shoot, but they don’t always score and were probably guilty of a bit of handball into the bargain. It would definitely help their promotion prospects and club fortunes if they gave those offending arms a rest.

Around a decade ago, the British national daily newspaper, The Sun, wrote an article on the club. A spokesperson said: "It is very strange. Everyone in Britain seems to think we have a funny name." They simply did not get the joke, and still don’t. However, they are more than pleased with the extra revenue from overseas replica kit sales, so being a devoted Wanka fan is not always a negative thing, it can also come in very handy for the club.

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