The Story of Corinthians
Football Pubcast blogger Tom Clee takes a look at the remarkable story of a remarkable football club, Corinthian-Casuals.
London as a city is rich with football heritage – everywhere you look there are clubs with long histories and sparkling trophy cabinets. Yet a little further out, in a corner of the residential suburb of Tolworth, exists perhaps the most remarkable story of them all. For this is the home of Corinthian-Casuals FC, currently of Isthmian League Division One South.
Corinthian, who merged with fellow amateurs Casuals in 1939 to form the modern-day club, have many claims to fame. For example, twice (in 1894 and 1895), the entire English national team was made up from their players. Few people know meanwhile that Real Madrid’s world famous all-white strip, adopted in 1902, was in fact inspired by their original kit. And here’s a bit of trivia for you: in 1904 they beat Manchester United 11-3, a defeat which to this day remains their heaviest ever.
Yet their true legacy does not reside in some forgotten history books, it can be seen before your very eyes – 6000 miles from Kingston-upon-Thames. On August 5th, 1910 Corinthian set sail from Southampton for a missionary tour to Brazil. After arriving two and a half weeks later, they enjoyed an unbeaten tour and captured the imagination of the Brazilian public in the process.
So touched were the locals, they formed a team of their own that very same year and named it after their English inspiration. And so Sport Club Corinthians Paulista was born – a club that has since gone on to become one of the most decorated, and fanatically supported, in Brazil. Their alumni boast legends such as Garrincha and Dunga, as well as current stars like Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tévez.
Throughout the last century the two clubs have maintained a close bond, leading to some astonishing tales. Take the 1913 tour, which saw a wedding, a birth, two deaths (one a suicide) and a cook who suddenly went mad. The following year, the tour was hampered by World War One, as the ship carrying the players was forced to alter its course to avoid a German gunboat.
In 1988 Corinthian-Casuals played their Brazilian counterparts in the majestic Pacembeu Stadium, in front of 15,000 spectators. The match was also shown live on television, as the English part-timers were outclassed before Brazilian legend Sócrates asked to switch sides midway through the second half.
The bond shared across the Atlantic has remained strong into the twenty-first century. At the end of the 2001 tour Alberto Dualib, the then-president of Corinthians Paulista, made an emotional speech, stating: “Corinthians is the greatest name in football and we are brothers”.
Last year Corinthians Paulista celebrated their centenary. In June 2009 they extended an invitation to Corinthian-Casuals to take part in the celebrations, promising to foot the bill for the costs. However, just a few weeks before the tour was due to begin the Brazilian giants suddenly went back on this agreement, leaving the London club without enough time to raise the necessary funds through sponsorship.
The whole episode has left a sour taste in the mouth for all involved. The players – who ply their trade as builders, teachers and students – were understandably distraught at being denied the chance to play current stars such as Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo – three-time World Player of the Year and record goal scorer in the history of the World Cup.
Rob Cavallini, author of Play Up Corinth! and current Programme Editor fears what effect the episode may have on future relations. “Historically the tour would have meant a lot, both to us and to Corinthians Paulista fans as they see us as their fathers. However, there has been no contact since, and I doubt there will be until the current regime goes in two years. Until then, I am not sure our clubs have a relationship anymore. We will have to see what transpires”.
However, there is a real worry that this great Brazilian club’s forefathers will not still be around by then. Since their conception, Corinthian-Casuals have remained strictly amateur, making their existence more perilous than most.
Cavallini explains: “We’ve managed to keep our squad together but injuries have meant a tough start to the season. Should we get relegated and players leave we would have no money as nobody watches Combined Counties football.
“Finances are as tight as ever. Nobody drinks as much in the bar these days, and this made a big difference until about 7 or 8 years ago. Unless the crowds improve dramatically or someone makes a large donation it will always be difficult. Times have changed; we now rely on this money.”
In a desperate bid to raise some much-needed funds, Corinthian Casuals are about to launch a range of their own shirts in Brazil. It is hoped that these old replica shirts will strike a chord with the Brazilian fans who owe so much to this little London club.
One can only hope that their support can help Corinthian-Casuals continue their remarkable journey, and that this does not prove to be a sad ending to such a charming tale of football and friendship.
To find out more about the history of Corinthian-Casuals FC, go to Rob Cavallini’s website http://www.dognduck.net. If you would like to make a donation to the club please go to http://www.corinthian-casuals.com.