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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

The Men Who Made Modern Football #2 - Alexander Watson-Hutton

Watching the 1986 World Cup Final I was struck by the surname of the first Argentinian goalscorer. It was Brown, and as I found out when researching this article thirty years later, his name is evidence of the lasting influence of Scotland on the development on one of the world’s footballing super powers and indeed the South American continent’s football as a whole.
This is hardly surprising when you consider the influence of the British empire on that part of South America in the nineteenth century and I think it’s rather appropriate given the footballing relationship between Argentina and England, that it was men from the auld enemy Scotland who built the foundation for La Albiceleste, chiefly a man from the Gorbals, Alexander Watson-Hutton.
Destined to become known as the father of Argentinian football, Hutton, the son of a grocer was orphaned before he reached the age of five. Incredibly he graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in Philosophy and found his vocation as a teacher. The earlier death of close family members from Tuberculosis, colloquially known as consumption, is thought to have led to his desire to seek a new life in warmer climes, so aged 31, in 1884 he began an appointment as rector of St Andrews School in Buenos Aires, which had been founded by the first wave of Scottish immigrants in 1838 and still exists today.
Hutton was an adherent of muscular Christianity, the belief that sport, especially as part of a team, has spiritual value. His preferred form of sporting expression was association football which was initially at odds with his fellow expatriates’ preference for rugby. When it became clear that the presence of football on the curriculum of his school was unwelcome, he elected to resign and found his own institution, the English High School of Buenos Aires which quickly flourished.
With football now at the heart of the curriculum, Hutton persuaded William Waters, the son of his old landlady back in Scotland to join him and bring a bag of leather footballs. ‘Guillermo’ Waters went onto become a successful importer of sporting goods to South America but before that captained St Andrews Scotch Athletic Club to the Argentine Association Football League title, the first such competition to be held outside of the UK.
The team consisted entirely of Scots, as did runners up the Old Caledonians which predominantly featured employees of a British plumbing company, Bautaume & Peason, which was laying a new sewage system in Buenos Aires. The league soon collapsed but it was Hutton who re-established in it 1893, a body regarded as South America’s first national football association, the eighth oldest in the world. Hutton was President and refereed games.
When the Argentinian government made PE compulsory in all schools in 1898, football spread in popularity amongst the native population. Hutton founded the Club Atletico English High School for his pupils, ex-pupils and teachers, and joined the new second division of the Argentinian League. Over the next decade, Alumni as they were known, dominated the national game winning ten first division titles between 1900 and 1911. A star member of the team was Hutton’s son Arnold, better known as Arnoldo who not only became an international footballer but also represented Argentina at cricket and polo.
Another Gorbals boy, tea magnate Thomas Lipton gave Hutton junior a chance for more glory when he donated the Copa Lipton, a trophy to be played for annually between Argentina and Uruguay, Arnoldo scoring in the second game in 1907 which Argentina won 2-0. In 1910 the competition was expanded to include Chile, and renamed the Copa Centenario to commemorate the 1810 Argentinian revolution. Arnoldo scored in the final again as Argentina lifted the trophy that was in time to become the Copa America.
Alumni’s strength was augmented by seven members of the Brown family, whose ancestors had left Scotland as early as 1825. Five of the Browns also won regular caps for Argentina but in 1912 Hutton decided to disband Alumni. This marked the end of the British period of Argentinian football, giving way to futbol criollo, the indigenous population setting up more familiar clubs such as Boca Juniors and River Plate.
Hutton died in 1936, just six years after Argentina had finished runners up to Uruguay in the first World Cup final. His role in the early development of the South American game is not forgotten with the Argentinian FA’s library being named after him and a 1950 film, Escuela de Campeones commemorating the story of his great Alumni team to celluloid.
The Scottish and by definition Hutton’s influence continues to be represented in Argentinian Football with 1986 goalscorer Jose Brown being a directed descendant of the Caledonian pioneers. Following his retirement he has become a successful domestic coach. If it wasn’t for Hutton’s persistence perhaps it would have been as a rugby player that Brown would have found fame.

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