Thursday, 5 May 2011

A History of World Football in 100 Games - Part 6

Uruguay 0-6 Argentina (16 July 1902) Paso del Molino, Montevideo

Many talk of the great rivalry in South America as being that between Argentina and Brazil, but a far older and fiercer enmity exists between Argentina and Uruguay. Divided by the River Plate, Buenos Aires and Montevideo have between them played host to some of the most explosive encounters in world football history. Indeed no international has been played more frequently than the clash between the two teams which first took place in 1902, the first international outside the British Isles.

As in the rest of the world, the British were responsible for the spread of football to South America. As early 1867 the first organised games of football took place in Buenos Aires. In that year, an English language paper in the city, The Standard, published the laws of the game set out by the FA in 1863 and advertisements in the paper were influential as a way of letting the expat community know of upcoming matches. Thomas Hogg of the Buenos Aires Cricket Club used the paper to publicise the second organised game of football in South America in June 1867.

Argentine Team For First International

The rise of the game in South America in those initial years can be largely be credited to the role of the British schools in the largest cities. Alexander Watson Hutton, a Scot who founded the English High School in Buenos Aires, was of particular note in the development of football in Argentina. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Argentine Association Football League (AAFL) which would go on to this day to be the championship of Argentina.

Those early years of football in Argentina were utterly dominated by the British community. The first two of the Argentine championships were won by Lomas Athletic Club, before Buenos Aires English Highschool (later renamed Alumni Athletic Club) came to the fore. Such was the dominance of the Alumni club that they would win the Argentine title 10 times in the years between 1900 and 1911. Even today they remain the 6th most successful club in the history of Argentine football based exclusively on this early haul of titles.

Over in Montevideo a similar pattern was emerging. Again it was a Scotsman who taught at an English high school, this time William Leslie Poole, who was influential in the growth of the sport. He founded the Albion Cricket Club, and due to a lack of opposition within Uruguay would go as far as Argentina to find competition.

It was against this backdrop that the first South American international took place. A crowd of 8,000 spectators gathered in Montevideo, including as many as 1,000 who had made the trip from Argentina by boat. The passion and expectancy of the fixture was apparent even from the off.

The Argentines fielded a side comprised of five members of the Alumni team, two each from Quilmes and Belgrano, with Lomas and Barracas Athletic each supplying one. The names of the players betrayed their British heritage with two Browns, two Buchanans, a Moore, a Dickinson and a Morgan taking to the field.

Uruguay fielded a side with far less of a British accent to it. The team was primarily composed of players from Nacional, who would go on to be such a force within South American football in the twentieth century, while a smattering of players hailed from the Albion club. The Central Uruguayan Railways Cricket Club (CURCC), who would go on to become Penarol were yet to make a major splash in Uruguayan domestic football. Uruguay too were able to boast two pairs of brothers, the Cespedes and the Sardesons, showing quite how limited the pool of players was at the time.

The match sadly turned out to be a less than competitive affair. Within 3 minutes of kick-off, left-winger Carlos Dickinson had put the visitors in front and from that point on they never looked back. Morgan, Anderson and Jorge Brown all netted for Argentina while Uruguayan defenders Arimalo and Urioste were both unfortunate enough to score own goals. It ended as a 6-0 rout, to this day the worst defeat in Uruguayan history.


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