There are very few romantics left in nowadays football. As years go by, there is a certain feeling that the ball matters less in the game. It seems the focus is for many clubs to have more fans in China and selling the highest amount of shirts.
That is why it seems convenient to take a look back and remember the story of Corinthian, a team who created the passion for the beautiful game to a point that Real Madrid wears their famous white kit as a tribute to that legendary team.
Corinthian FC was founded in London in 1882, and from their initial creation they made clear that they would just compete for their love for football. In fact, the founders wrote in their statute that they would “remain as an amateur team who would not compete for any trophy or reward.”
That would mean they could not be accredited by the Football Association, the official football organisation in Britain, and thus they would not be able to take part in any official tournaments.
However, in spite of the fact they only played friendly games, Corinthian soon acquired a great reputation in England. This was due to their pleasing style of play and the fame they earned as giant-killers. In fact, to this day they are the team that has inflicted Manchester United’s biggest defeat in their history: 11-3.
The Red Devils where not the only team embarrassed by Corinthian. In 1884, they beat Blackburn Rovers, then holders of the FA Cup, by a convincing 8-1. They also hammered Bury 6-0 in 1903, just after their rivals had also enjoyed FA Cup success.
Those results made the Londoners become the fashionable team in England. In fact, in 1894 and 1895, in two matches against Wales, all the players that formed the English national team were members of Corinthian.
That made the club famous beyond British borders. And that is why nobody was surprised when they were invited on a tour around Brazil at the beginning of the 20th century.
In South America they left locals with the impression they were an unbeatable squad, beat Fluminense 10-1, Rio 8-1, Sao Paulo 8-2 and Paulistao 5-0 along the way. In fact, they left such a good image behind that Brazilian club Corinthians is named after them.
They also marveled Europe. A proof of that is that Real Madrid decided to wear a white shirt, the same colour Corinthian used, as a tribute to the English club, which they considered an example for their values and their game.
Just one official match
The Londoners only broke their rule of not playing official matches once in their history. It was in 1900, when they played the Sheriff of London Charity Shield, a tournament that once a year took place between a professional team and an amateur team.
The reason they broke this rule was that the tournament’s purpose was to collect funds that would be distributed among the hospitals in the city. Corinthian did not disappoint anyone in the match and took the trophy home after defeating Aston Villa, who were favourites after having won the league, 2-1.
However, nothing lasts forever, and romanticisms don’t usually survive for long in football. In 1939, Corinthian merged with Casuals to create Corinthian-Casuals FC.
That wasn’t their best decision, as the team rapidly lost their fame and their magic. Nowadays, the club roams in the lower divisions of British football and very few remember that at the beginning of the century they were a widely admired team and that Real Madrid honours them every weekend wearing the same white coloured shirt that Corinthian wore in their unforgettable games.