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Lockhart, 1932: The Corinthians
Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2023-02-07 14:11:53
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WHAT FOOTBALL OWES TO THE CORINTHIANS
— R. H. Bruce Lockhart | 02/01/1932 —
This year the Corinthian Football Club celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of its existence.
The sponsor of the club was the redoubtable N. L. Jackson, then assistant honorary secretary of the Football Association. Its origin was due to two causes.
Mr. Jackson, dismayed by the superior combination of the Scottish teams in their international matches against England, was determined to provide an opportunity for the best English amateur players to play together. There were, too, many old public school boys, who found Saturday football too scant an outlet for their energy.
Here then was the chance to found a mid-week playing club which could draw its strength from the best players in other clubs.
Among those present at the inaugural meeting was Mr. E. C. Bambridge, the present secretary, known to his friends as "Charlie Bam," and one of the greatest outside-lefts of all time. The name first suggested was the Wednesday Club, but wiser counsels prevailed, and the more robust title of Corinthians was selected.
TOURING THE NORTH.
The early beginnings of Corinthians were modest. The first match played was against St. Thomas's Hospital on November 2, 1882, at Lambeth, and resulted in a Corinthian victory. At the end of this first season, however, the team toured the North of England and everywhere was welcomed with tremendous enthusiasm.
Drawing most of their support from the Universities and public schools (for many years there was an unwritten law confining election to members of these institutions), the Corinthians soon developed a style of their own, of which the chief features were the forward pass, always executed on the run, and the close proximity of the backs and the half-backs to the forwards.
It was not, however, until the season of 1884-1885 that the Corinthians launched their general attack against the best professional sides. The contact produced startling results. From that moment until 1905 Corinth never looked back and on many a field proved that she was fully a match for the best professional talent in the country.
THEIR GREATEST DEEDS.
The modern footballer, who has seen only the indifferent performances of the post-war Corinthians, is inclined to be sceptical about the prowess of their former heroes. The professionals, he will say, did not take these matches seriously.
There is only one answer to these detractors. Let them ask the old professionals who played against these amateurs. Their answer will be unanimous and entirely laudatory. There is another indirect proof. During the first twenty-five years of the clubs's existence it supplied, in the face of the best professional competition, 43 players (33 per cent of all the caps) to the all-England eleven against Scotland!
Who shall say what was the greatest team that the Corinthians ever fielded? Almost every year has its own advocates. The team of 1885 defeated Blackburn Rovers (winners of the English Cup) twice, Preston North End twice, and Sheffield. Successes against Cup winners were frequent in subsequent years. On two occasions — in 1894 and again in 1895 — the Corinthian side was selected en bloc, in preference to the professionals, to do battle for England in an International. My own choice — and I am not forgetting the period of the Walters, of Cobbold, of Tinsley Lindley, of C. B. Fry and of G. O. Smith — falls on the Corinthian side which in 1904 defeated Bury by ten goals to three in the match for the Sheriff of London Shield. Never have I seen such irresistible forward play as that served up by G. C. Vassall, S. H. Day, G. S. Harris, S. S. Harris, and B. O. Corbett.
Nevertheless, perhaps the most outstanding performance of Corinth was achieved by the "stalwarts" of 1892, who challenged the Barbarians to a quadruple test of prowess at "Rugger," "Soccer," athletics and cricket. Strangely enough, the Corinthians lost the cricket match. But in spite of the presence of C. J. B. Moneypenny — then a world champion — in the ranks of the "Ba-Ba's," they won the sports. The Soccer match, won by 6-1, was a foregone conclusion. Then came the great surprise. The Barbarian "Rugger" side, which comprised seven Internationals and six Blues, was defeated by 16 points to 13.
I can see "Rugger" men of the post-war generation smile contemptuously, but there was no fluke about the victory. The Corinthians of those days were giants. Their "Rugger" side included P. M. Walters at full-back, C. B. Fry at wing three-quarter, A. M. Walters and Tinsley Lindley at half-back, with the perennial Wreford-Brown at forward.
In spite of these triumphs, Corinth's great service to football is in the pioneer work it has done abroad. Its Imperial and foreign teams laid the foundations of football's popularity. In those days professional teams went aborad for a joy-ride, and their tours brought little credit either to football or to Englishmen. The foreign tours of the Corinthians were models of clean football and good sportsmanship. They left behind them a memory and an example which have remained to this day.
PAST AND PRESENT.
Those who hold that football interferes with success in life may be interested to know the later history of these early Corinthians. If they have provided no Prime Ministers, they have at any rate put brains into football.
As a matter of fact, their failures in life have been few, and they have provided England and the Empire with many useful citizens. Their successful preparatory-school headmasters include G. O. Smith, C. P. Wilson (who played for England both at "Rugger" and "Soccer"), W. J. Oakley, S. H. Day and G. C. Vassall. Famous Corinthians in other walks of life include Sir E. Farquhar Buzzard (who played half-back in the Oxford XI. of 1890 along with Fry, Oakley and G. O. Smith), and who attended the King during his severe illness in 1930.
Some, like "Tip" Foster, greatest of all-rounders, and the inimitable "Shoot" Harris, died young. The war took its toll of others. C. B. Fry, great scholar and great athlete, has had a severe nervous breakdown.
Unfortunately, their mantle has not descended upon the post-war Corinthians. The increased speed of the modern game and the decline of public school "Soccer" have been a sore handicap, and to-day Corinth, "faint yet pursuing," finds it hard to maintain her place in first-class football.
But even if she is but a shadow of her former greatness, her name will endure so long as football is played. She has established traditions which the best footballers in all countries will always strive to follow.
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