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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, 25 September 2016

The Men Who Made Modern Football #3 - Charles Miller

As explained in part 2 it was in Argentina that football first took root in South America. Inevitably Brazil was not far behind and again it was Scotsmen who played the leading role in developing perhaps the world’s foremost footballing nation.
The predictable title of father of Brazilian football is commonly attached to Charles Miller (pictured above) and as you will read he certainly played the biggest role in establishing the sport. However it is Thomas Donohoe, originally from Busby in East Renfrewshire, who organised the first match.
A dye expert, Donohoe arrived in Bangu, a suburb of Rio De Janeiro in 1893. In April the following year he organised a five a side match. Aged 31 he became part of a small British community in the neighbourhood but missed playing football so when he invited his wife and children to cross the Atlantic he asked them to bring a football which was then used in the first football match to be played in Brazil on a field next to the textile factory where worked, with the British factory workers making up the teams.
Sadly a manager at the factory banned all games for fear of a detrimental effect on the workforce. Thus the fledgling game in Bangu was still born and football did not return for ten years but they still continued to innovate as in 1905 the new Bangu Atletic Clube included Francisco Carregal, the first black player to play for a Brazilian club.
Thus it was left to Charles Miller, based a few hours down the coast in Sao Paulo, to establish the first league having arranged the first eleven a side match in Brazil in 1894, a few month after Donohoe.
Miller was a Sao Paulo native with a Scottish railway engineer father, and a Brazilian mother of English descent. He was sent to Southampton to complete his education, and whilst at school he played for and against Corinthians and St. Marys, the clubs now known as Corinthian Casuals and Southampton respectively.
Miller returned to Brazil, aged 21 in 1894, bringing with him two footballs and the Hampshire FA rule book. In April 1895 he organised a match between British workers of the Sao Paulo Railway and the Gas Company, acknowledged as the first proper football match to be played in Brazil as opposed to Donohoe’s small sided affair. He went onto set up the Liga Paulista and the Sao Paulo Athletic Club for whom he featured as a striker and won three consecutive championships from 1902. To this day the state championship remains the foundation of the Brazilian game.
The club had folded for good by 1912 but he left his mark on Brazilian football by suggesting the name Corinthians for another Sport Club Paulista. Corinthians remain one of the foremost clubs in world football.
Other notable figures in early Brazilian football include Oscar Cox and Harry Welfare. Cox was born in Brazil but as his surname suggests had English ancestors. He introduced football to Rio De Janeiro and founded Fluminese. He learned his football whilst being educated in Switzerland, and like Miller, returned aged 20 in 1901to set up the first match in his native city. Hearing about Miller’s efforts in Sao Paulo, Cox went on to set up fixtures featuring teams from each city.  In 1902 he founded Flu, a club Welfare would go on to star for as a striker.
Born in Liverpool, Welfare played professionally for both the Reds and Tranmere but aged 24 decided to emigrate to Brazil. A teacher, Welfare joined Fluminese and went onto score 163 goals in only 166 appearances. After a decade of service he was elected a life member of the club.

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