Today sees the 75th anniversary of a merger between two of the most renowned amateur football sides in world football. Corinthian-Casuals FC play in what is effectively the seventh-tier of English football, but their history is an incredible one. In the early parts of the 20th century, the sensational touring side of the original Corinthian FC inspired the likes of Real Madrid and helped the popularisation of football across Brazil. As English football remembers the history of this famous amateur side, FIFA.com takes a look back at a remarkable and tragic story from a century ago.
Corinthian FC were formed in 1882, mainly of Oxford University graduates, with the remit of creating a side capable of beating the formidable Scotland team of the 1880s. The club evolved into a side that embodied the virtues of the beautiful game and, after persisting with their desire not to compete for top honours and play simply for the love of the game as amateurs, toured the world to promote their exciting and classy brand of football.
The side showcased their talents in South Africa, Canada, USA, South America and across Europe, at one stage inspiring Real Madrid to don their now-famous white shirts. However, it was a 1910 visit to Brazil that made the most lasting impact. After watching the London-based side play in their country, a five-strong group of blue-collar workers from the Bom Retiro neighbourhood of Sao Paulo founded Sport Club Corinthians Paulista on 1 September 1910.
That first visit to Brazil is Corinthian FC's most famous, but it was their third tour of the country in 1914 which has been consigned to the annals of forgotten footballing stories. This is perhaps because no football was actually played on that particular visit to South America.
Setting off on a ship from Southampton to Brazil, the Corinthian tour party were eagerly anticipating their third visit to Brazil in four years, but all hopes of showcasing their talents once more were dashed by the outbreak of the First World War on 6 August. Still en route to Brazil, the ship's course reportedly had to be altered to avoid a German gunboat which was waiting on the regular route.
On arrival in Brazil, those players who were members of the Reserve of Officers, and therefore required to join their compatriots at war immediately, boarded the first ship home. The remaining members of the squad continued to Rio de Janeiro for a brief walk around the city before returning to England. The journey home was far from straightforward, with German gunboats abound and a warning torpedo fired across the ship's bows. All made it home safely, and every member of the Corinthian squad enlisted for the army.
Only one member of that 1914 squad would ever tour with the Corinthians again after the War. The football clubs of Corinthian FC and Casuals FC lost a combined figure of close to 70 men during the conflict.
The most fitting tribute to those individuals is the footballing legacy that remains. Corinthian-Casuals FC is one of the most prominent amateur sporting sides in the world, with 26 youth teams, a touring side who visit schools to spread the message of fair play and a huge Facebook following.
This summer, the Opening Match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ will be played in the Arena de Sao Paulo, also known as Arena Corinthians, and it is also fitting that England will play their second group match, against Uruguay, in the stadium on 19 June. The memory of the members of that famous touring side who lost their lives in the Great War, who embodied their club's indomitable spirit and unbreakable commitment to Fair Play, will truly never be forgotten.