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British football clubs tours to South America

British football clubs tours over South America contributed to the spread and develop of football in the region during the first years of the 20th century. The first club to tour on the region was Southampton F.C. in 1904, followed by several teams (mainly from England although some Scottish clubs also visited South America) until 1929 with Chelsea F.C. being the last team to tour.

During those 25 years of tours, British teams performances were decreasing while the South American squads' style of playing improved. Indeed, Southampton won all of their matches in 1904 with 40 goals scored in 1904 while Chelsea was defeated eight times (over 16 games played) in their 1929 tour.[1]


Football (and other British-origin sports like rugby union) were gaining popularity in Argentina and Uruguay and the associations brought foreign teams to their countries as a way of encourage the practise of the sport among the large number of enthusiasts.[2] In fact, Argentine Primera División was the first football league outside of the British Isles,[3] having been held since 1891 to the present.

British teams were considered the best in the world by then, and some of them served as inspiration to establish football clubs in Argentina and Uruguay, helped by the immigration of British citizens that had arrived to worked for British companies (mostly in railway construction). CURCC (in Uruguay), Belgrano A.C., Rosario A.C., Alumni and Quilmes (in Argentina) are some examples of clubs established by British immigrants to South America.[2][4]

Football had been introduced many years ago in both countries, being the first game played in Argentina on June 20, 1867,[5] with the establishment of Buenos Aires Football Club, the first football club not only in Argentina but in South America.[2][6] In Uruguay, football had been introduced in 1870. Argentina organised its first league championship, Primera División, in 1891 while its Uruguayan homonymous held its first championship in 1900.

Both countries considered themselves rivals due to their proximity. Moreover, they had the only organised bodies in South America and had held some earlier competitions such as Tie Cup (1900) or Copa de Honor Cousenier (1905), played by champions of each association.

In some cases, the influence of British clubs on Argentine football extended to the colours adopted by some clubs. Arístides Langone, president of Club Atlético Independiente, was so impressed by the Nottingham Forest squad that beat local Alumni by 6–0 that he suggested to change the jersey colours from white and blue to red. The request was approved and Independiente adopted the colour that would later become an identity mark for the club, being known as El Rojo (The Red).[7]

Some versions also state that Quilmes A.C. was another institution that took the colours from a British squad, in this case the white jersey with blue details of the English national team, although there is no evidence to prove that statement.


Southampton F.C. was the first foreign club to tour South America, followed by Nottingham Forest F.C. in 1905. One of its games, against Alumni in Buenos Aires, was attended by 10,000 spectators, what proves the interest of Argentine fans to see the local forces facing British sides, considered technically superior by them.[8]

The first team to defeat a British side was Argentine Alumni, who defeated the South Africa team (mostly formed by British players) by 1–0 at Sociedad Sportiva Argentina stadium of Palermo, Buenos Aires. The relevance of the victory was expressed by local media, such as La Nación writing: "For our national football, the Alumni v South Africa match was a great triumph that will be remembered for a long time in everyone's memory, serving as example and stimulus for the future", while British-origin newspaper The Standard wrote "it was a glorious victory and what happened in La Sportiva is promising for Argentine football".[9]

Corinthian F.C. of London was the first British club to tour Brazil in 1910, playing ten games in the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The team inspired a group of railway workers to establish a club which they named as the British team,[10] therefore S.C. Corinthians was founded in September 1910.[11]

Corinthian F.C. would return to Brazil in 1913,[12] becoming the only British team that toured South America twice.[10]

Exeter City was the first British team to play beyond Argentina and Uruguay[13] when they reached Brazil to play a series of friendly matches in Rio de Janeiro (most of them v. local combined teams), finishing their tour on July 21, 1914, when Exeter played Brazil national team, in which was the first match ever played by the scratch.[14]

Nevertheless, newspapers in Argentina were left disappointed with City's performances during the tour. Tribuna describing them as "the most mediocre team of professionals sent out by the FA from the home of football", and the Buenos Aires Herald complaining that the Grecians were not "sufficiently superior".[15]

Plymouth Argyle thrashed Uruguay national team 4–0 in their first game (Uruguay went on to win the first ever World Cup just six years later) before pulling off another shock by beating Argentina 1–0. Plymouth Argyle was the team that faced Argetina most times, with 4 matches played between both squads.[16]

In the match against Boca Juniors on 9 July 1924, the Boca Juniors supporters invaded the pitch after their team had scored the opening goal and carried all eleven home players shoulder high around the stadium. After a half hour delay, the referee restarted the match, but a further invasion was sparked when the referee awarded a penalty against the home side. When the match was again restarted, the Argyle players had agreed that Patsy Corcoran would take the spot-kick and miss, to prevent another pitch invasion. However, the ultra-competitive Russell was not prepared to accept this, and just before Corcoran was about to take the penalty he was pushed aside by Russell who took it himself and scored. This prompted a further pitch invasion by the Boca fans and this time the match was abandoned.[17]

Chelsea F.C. was the last British club to tour South America, in 1929. Since the first tour in 1904, the South American players had evolved a lot, as they were described as "true masters in tactical play" by Chelsea chairman Kirby himself. He also remarked the style and ball control on offer, perhaps a consequence of the outstanding sporting facilities many of the amateur teams possessed.[18] The evolution of South American football was also evident in the tour results: of 16 games played during their three months tour, Chelsea only won five, with eight loses.[1] On the other hand, the Chelsea players emphasised the "unfair play" of some Argentine players and the violent surrounding atmosphere of the supporters in Argentina. The Chelsea management complained to the Football Association that "non-observance of the laws of the game hindered real football".[19]

Some players that were part of British teams touring South America, would then hired as coaches in the continent. Walter Bull of Totenham Hotspur went to Argentina, John Harley to Uruguay (he died there in 1959) while John Hamilton went to Brazil in 1907, becoming the first professional coach in the country.[8]

List of British clubs by year of tour

Countries visited indicated in each case:

  • Green tickY Toured
  • Red XN Not toured
Team Year Arg Uru Bra Source
Southampton 1904 Green tickY Green tickY Red XN [20]
Nottingham Forest 1905 Green tickY Green tickY Red XN [8]
South Africa F.A. 1906 Green tickY Green tickY Red XN [9]
Everton 1909 Green tickY Green tickY Red XN [21]
Tottenham Hotspur 1909 Green tickY Green tickY Red XN [22][23]
Corinthian 1910 Red XN Red XN Green tickY [10]
Swindown Town 1912 Green tickY Green tickY Red XN [24]
Corinthian 1913 Red XN Red XN Green tickY [10]
Exeter City 1914 Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY [25]
Third Lanark 1923 Green tickY Green tickY Red XN [26]
Plymouth Argyle 1924 Green tickY Green tickY Red XN [27]
Motherwell 1928 Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY [28]
Chelsea 1929 Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY [1]

Matches details (by club)

Complete list of visitors and games played in Argentina, Uruguay[29][30] and Brazil.[12]

     Indicates British clubs defeats.


Southampton, the first British club to arrive, in 1904
Date Venue Rival Score
26 Jun 1904 Sociedad Sportiva Alumni 3-0
3 Jul 1904 Buenos Aires "Británicos" [note1 1] 10-0
6-Jul 1904 Sociedad Sportiva Belgrano A.C. 6-1
9-Jul 1904 Buenos Aires  Argentina 8-0
10-Jul 1904 Buenos Aires Liga Argentina [note1 2] 5-3
? Jul 1904 Montevideo Liga Uruguaya [note1 3] 8-1
Pl W D L Gs Gc
6 6 0 0 40 5
  1. ^ British-origin footballers that played in the Argentine domestic league
  2. ^ All-star team from the Argentine domestic league
  3. ^ All-star team from the Uruguay domestic league

Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest in Argentina, 1905
Nottingham Forest
Date Venue Rival Score
11 Jun 1905 Montevideo CURCC 6-1
16 Jun 1905 Rosario Rosario Combined [note2 1] 5-0
18 Jun 1905 Buenos Aires Belgrano A.C. 7-0
22 Jun 1905 Buenos Aires "Británicos" 13-1
? Jun 1905 Buenos Aires Rosario Combined [note2 1] 6-0
? Jun 1905 Buenos Aires Alumni 6-0
29 Jun 1905 Buenos Aires  Argentina 5-0
2 Jul 1905 Buenos Aires Liga Argentina 9-1
Pl W D L Gs Gc
8 8 0 0 57 3
  1. ^ a b Team formed by players of Rosario Central and Rosario A.C.

South Africa

The South Africa team of 1906
South Africa playing Alumni in Buenos Aires, 1906
South Africa F.A.
Date Venue Rival Score
22 Jun 1906 Sociedad Sportiva "Universitarios" [note3 1] 14-0
24 Jun 1906 Sociedad Sportiva Alumni 0-1
29 Jun 1906 Sociedad Sportiva Belgrano A.C. 6-0
1 Jul 1906 Rosario Liga Rosarina 9-0
8 Jul 1906 Sociedad Sportiva "Británicos" 4-1
9 Jul 1906 Sociedad Sportiva  Argentina 1-0
12 Jul 1906 Sociedad Sportiva Estudiantes (BA) 3-2
15 Jul 1906 Sociedad Sportiva Liga Argentina 4-1
18 Jul 1906 Parque Central Liga Uruguaya 6-1
22 Jul 1906 Sociedad Sportiva Alumni 2-0
26 Jul 1906 Sociedad Sportiva Quilmes 5-1
Pl W D L Gs Gc
11 10 0 1 54 7
  1. ^ Team formed for University students


Everton also toured to Argentina and Uruguay in 1909
Date Venue Rival Score
06 Jun 1909 Sociedad Sportiva Tottenham Hotspur 2-2
10 Jun 1909 Sociedad Sportiva Alumni 4-0
13 Jun 1909 Parque Central Liga Uruguaya 2-1
19 Jun 1909 Sociedad Sportiva Tottenham Hotspur 4-0
20 Jun 1909 Sociedad Sportiva Liga Argentina 4-1
Pl W D L Gs Gc
5 4 1 0 16 4

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur team of 1909
Tottenham Hotspur
Date Venue Rival Score
06 Jun 1909 Sociedad Sportiva Everton 2-2
10 Jun 1909 Parque Central Liga Uruguaya 8-0
13 Jun 1909 Sociedad Sportiva  Argentina 1-0
16 Jun 1909 Sociedad Sportiva Liga Argentina 4-1
19 Jun 1909 Sociedad Sportiva Everton 0-4
20 Jun 1909 Rosario Liga Rosarina 9-0
24 Jun 1909 Sociedad Sportiva Alumni 5-0
Pl W D L Gs Gc
7 5 1 1 29 7

Corinthian (1910)

The Corinthian F.C. squad that toured on Brazil in 1910, winning all matches
Date Venue Rival Score
24-8-1910 Rio de Janeiro Fluminense 10-1
26-8-1910 Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro Combined 8-1
28-8-1910 Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro Combined 5-2
31-8-1910 São Paulo A.A. das Palmeiras [note4 1] 2-0
2-9-1910 São Paulo Paulistas Combined 5-0
4-9-1910 São Paulo Foreigners Sao Paulo 8-2
Pl W D L Gs Gc
6 6 0 0 38 6
  1. ^ "Associação Atlética das Palmeiras" (not to be confused with S.E. Palmeiras, established in 1914),
    was a football club that merged with members of C.A. Paulistano to form Sao Paulo FC in 1930

Swindon Town

Swindon Town playing Argentina national team at GEBA stadium, July 1912
Swindon Town
Date Venue Rival Score
16 Jun 1912 GEBA Combinado Norte 2-2
22 Jun 1912 San Isidro San Isidro 4-1
23 Jun 1912 Buenos Aires Combinado Sur 2-0
29 Jun 1912 Rosario Liga Rosarina 3-1
30 Jun 1912 Buenos Aires Liga Argentina 2-2
4 Jul 1912 Buenos Aires Estudiantes (BA) 4-0
? Jul 1912 Montevideo Liga Uruguaya 3-0
9 Jul 1912 GEBA  Argentina 1-0
Pl W D L Gs Gc
8 5 2 1 21 6

Corinthian (1913)

Date Venue Rival Score
21 Aug 1913 Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro Combined 1-2
23 Aug 1913 Rio de Janeiro Foreigners Rio 4-0
24 Aug 1913 Rio de Janeiro Brazilians Rio 2-1
28 Aug 1913 Sao Paulo Paulistano 2-1
30 Aug 1913 Sao Paulo McKenzie College 8-2
31 Aug 1913 Sao Paulo A.A. das Palmeiras 1-1
Pl W D L Gs Gc
6 4 1 1 18 7

Exeter City

The 1914 Exeter City team that toured on South America
The first Brazil national team ever playing Exeter City in Rio de Janeiro
Exeter City
Date Venue Rival Score
14 Jun 1914 Buenos Aires Combinado Norte 0-1
21 Jun 1914 Buenos Aires Combinado Sur 3-0
24 Jun 1914 Avellaneda Racing 2-0
28 Jun 1914 Rosario Liga Rosarina 3-1
29 Jun 1914 Avellaneda Combined team 5-0
9 Jul 1914 Avellaneda Liga Argentina 3-0
11 Jul 1914 Buenos Aires Argentinos 0-0
12 Jul 1914 Avellaneda Liga Argentina 3-1
18 Jul 1914 Rio de Janeiro English of Rio 3-0
19 Jul 1914 Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro Combined 5-3
21 Jul 1914 Rio de Janeiro  Brazil 0-2
Pl W D L Gs Gc
11 8 1 2 27 8

Third Lanark

Third Lanark (dark jerseys) and Zona Norte combined entering to the pitch, 10 June 1923
Third Lanark
Date Venue Rival Score
10 June 1923 Buenos Aires Combinado Norte 0-1
17 June 1923 Buenos Aires Combinado Sud 3-1
19 June 1923 Montevideo  Uruguay 1-1
24 June 1923 Buenos Aires  Argentina 1-1
29 June 1923 Avellaneda Independiente 1-2
1 Jul 1923 Buenos Aires Combinado Provincia 3-2
4 Jul 1923 Montevideo Peñarol 2-0
8 Jul 1923 Buenos Aires Argentina/Uruguay 3-2
Pl W D L Gs Gc
8 4 2 2 14 10

Plymouth Argyle

Plymouth Argyle v. Argentina national team: English back Russell (left) fights to cut off centre-forward Sosa
Plymouth Argyle
Date Venue Rival Score
22 Jun 1924 Sportivo Barracas  Argentina 1-0
29 Jun 1924 Sportivo Barracas  Argentina 0-3
4 Jul 1924 Montevideo  Uruguay 4-0
6 Jul 1924 Newell's Rosario Combined 6-0
8 Jul 1924 Boca Juniors Rosario Combined 1-2
9 Jul 1924 Boca Juniors Boca Juniors 0-0
13 Jul 1924 Boca Juniors  Argentina 1-0
18 Jul 1924 Montevideo  Uruguay 1-1
20 Jul 1924 Sportivo Barracas  Argentina 0-1
Pl W D L Gs Gc
9 4 3 2 14 7


Motherwell F.C. players entering to River Plate field to play the first match of the tour, May 1928
Date Venue Rival Score
13 May 1928 River Plate Combinado Capital 0-1
17 May 1928 River Plate Combinado Provincia 1-2
20 May 1928 Sp. Barracas Combinado Capital 2-3
25 May 1928 Independiente Liga Rosarina 4-3
2 Jun 1928 Boca Juniors  Argentina 3-2
3 Jun 1928 River Plate Combinado Rioplatense 3-0
5 Jun 1928 Racing Combinado del Interior 4-1
7 Jun 1928 Newell's O.B. Liga Rosarina 3-2
9 Jun 1928 Buenos Aires Boca Juniors 0-2
10 Jun 1928 Parque Central Peñarol 1-0
14 Jun 1928 Estación Pocitos Peñarol 1-2
21 Jun 1928 das Laranjeiras Rio de Janeiro 1-1
24 Jun 1928 das Laranjeiras  Brazil 1-4
Pl W D L Gs Gc
13 6 1 6 24 22


The Chelsea F.C. team that toured on South America, photographed in Argentina in 1929[31]
Chelsea v. Corinthians, in Sao Paulo. Both captains greet before the match
Date Venue Rival Score
25 May 1929 San Lorenzo Combinado Capital 3-2
26 May 1929 Racing Club Combinado Provincia 0-4
31 May 1929 River Plate  Argentina 1-0
2 Jun 1929 Boca Juniors Combinado Capital 2-3
8 Jun 1929 Buenos Aires San Lorenzo 2-0
9 Jun 1929 Estación Pocitos Peñarol 1-2
15 Jun 1929 Avellaneda Independiente 1-1
16 Jun 1929 Newell's O.B. Combinado Rosarino 1-2
16 Jun 1929 Santa Fe Unión (SF) 0-5
20 Jun 1929 Avellaneda Racing 0-1
22 Jun 1929 Buenos Aires Estudiantil Porteño 3-2
23 Jun 1929 Montevideo Wanderers 1-0
28 Jun 1929 Rio de Janeiro Combinado R. de Janeiro 1-1
30 Jun 1929 Rio de Janeiro Combinado R. de Janeiro 1-2
4 Jul 1929 Palestra Itália Corinthians 4-4
7 Jul 1929 Sao Paulo Combinado Sao Paulo 1-3
Pl W D L Gs Gc
16 5 3 8 22 32


  1. ^ a b c South American Trip of Chelsea FC 1929 by Pablo Ciullini on RSSSF
  2. ^ a b c Historia del Fútbol Amateur en la Argentina, by Jorge Iwanczuk. Published by Autores Editores (1992) - ISBN 9504343848
  3. ^ "Salvation army", The Guardian, 4 June 2006
  4. ^ Plaza Jewell, el club donde nació el deporte rosarino, cumple hoy 145 años, La Capital, 27 Mar 2012
  5. ^ A un siglo y medio del primer partido de fútbol en la Argentina y en Sudamérica by Oscar Barnade, Clarín, 20 Jun 2017
  6. ^ Historia de Fútbol de AFA: Orígenes 1891/1899, by Carlos Yametti. Published by Edición del Autor (2011) – ISBN 978-987-05-9773-5
  7. ^ Independiente y Nottingham Forest unidos para siempre on Olé, 27 Aug 2010
  8. ^ a b c The World's Game: A History of Soccer, by Bill Murray, William J. Murray
  9. ^ a b A cien años de un triunfazo on Clarín, 24 June 2006
  10. ^ a b c d Corinthian FC Football Pioneers by Vince Cooper, 2 Oct 2017
  11. ^ NO BOM RETIRO, EM 1910, COMEÇA ESTA HISTÓRIA, Folha de S.Paulo, 5 Dec 1976
  12. ^ a b British and Irish Clubs - Overseas Tours 1890-1939 by Javier García on RSSSF
  13. ^ Exeter City’s 1914 South American Tour & its Legacy Today by R.I. Ngah
  14. ^ A century of the Seleção: the remarkable story of Brazilian football on The Guardian
  15. ^ Hamilton, Aidan (2014). Have you ever played Brazil?: The story of Exeter City's 1914 tour of South America. Exeter City AFC Supporters Society. ISBN 0992967600.
  16. ^ Argentina national team - List of Other Matches 1901-2008 by Héctor Pelayes on RSSSF
  17. ^ a b Chapter 13: 1920-1930 by Colin Parsons on Green on Screen website
  18. ^ When Chelsea went to Rio on Chelsea FC official site, 12 Jul 2014
  19. ^ ¡Golazo!: A History of Latin American Football by Andreas Campomar – Quercus Publishing Plc (2014) – ISBN 978-1848668560
  20. ^ source
  21. ^ The South American Tour 1909 on Everton Collection website
  22. ^ Hotspur Towers - Spurs in South America
  23. ^ Everton & Tottenham Hotspur in South America 1909, Association football around the world, 1863-19378
  24. ^ When Saturday Comes magazine, Sep 2010
  25. ^ Exeter City return to Brazil one hundred years after special trip by Kalika Mehta, BBC Sport, 18 July 2014
  26. ^ Tommy McInally: Celtic's Bad Bhoy? by David Potter - Black & White Publishing (2009) - ISBN 9781845022600
  28. ^ South American Trip of Motherwell FC 1928 by Pablo Ciullini on RSSSF
  29. ^ British and Irish Clubs - Overseas Tours 1890-1939
  30. ^ British Clubs in Argentina and Uruguay (1904-1929) (RSSSF)
  31. ^ Asociación Amateurs Argentina de Football: Memoria y Balance 1929, pag. 159, AFA Library