Football was introduced to Argentina by railway workers from the north of England. The Buenos Aires Football Club, South America’s first association football club, was formed in 1867 by a group of young men led by brothers Thomas and James Hogg, from Skelton in York.
The first match took place at Palermo on 20 June between club members divided into the Colorados (Reds) and the Blancos (Whites) – with the teams distinguished by coloured caps. ‘There were not so many players as had been expected,’ reported the local Standard newspaper, and it ended up being an eight-a-side match. The Colorados won 4-0, ‘chiefly owing to the superior play of the Messrs Hogg’.
The match was played according to FA rules, ‘with some slight modifications’, and there were problems involving players using their hands instead of their feet. ‘However,’ reported the Standard, ‘it was remarkable that considering it was the first time the players had assembled together, they all played well.’ Nevertheless, the club subsequently bowed to the whims of those members who had preferred to use their hands, and ditched football in favour of rugby.
It would take more than 20 years for association football to become popular in Argentina, with interest being revived by another immigrant, a Scottish teacher from Glasgow’s Gorbals. Alexander Watson Hutton (above) founded the Buenos Aires English High School in 1884, and placed great importance on physical education, teaching the pupils the intricacies of football.
In 1893 he founded the Argentine Association Football League (now the Asociación del Fútbol Argentino). Starting out with just five teams, this was the origin of the Argentine league system that still exists – and now contains around 450 teams.
Then, in 1898, Watson Hutton founded, via his school, the Alumni Athletic Club, a highly-successful amateur team that won the Argentine championship 10 times. His son, Arnold, played for the Argentine national team in the early 1900s. ‘Alejandro’ Watson Hutton is now regarded as the father of Argentine football.
This is an edited extract from The Victorian Football Miscellany by Paul Brown.