The Corinthian-Casuals FC home, King George's Field

Over 140 years of history: Corinthian-Casuals FC’s legacy archived

Corinthian-Casuals FC is an amateur football club in the seventh tier of English football in Tolworth with heritage and tales exceeding what most amateur clubs have.

The club is one of the oldest of its kind in the country and owns an archive of over 140 years of footballing heritage.

Dominic Bliss is the committee member of Media and Heritage at the club and the man behind the operation to keep the archive growing.

He said: “In the last few years, it became clear to me that there was an enormous amount of memorabilia, articles, facts and publications from throughout this club’s history that wasn’t collected in one place.

“Individuals had their own collections and several of us decided it would be important to try and gather that all in one place and if possible to digitise it so we can put it online and anyone can access imagery and information about the club’s past.”

Some of the memorablia on display in the clubhouse.

The Corinthian history on display

The inside of the clubhouse at King George’s Field is filled to the brim with memorabilia from over the years, ranging from photos, posters and pamphlets to jerseys, scarves and trophies.

Each piece represents a different part of the 140 years of the club’s existence, including those of Corinthian FC and Casuals FC before the amateur clubs merged in 1939.

While some are the genuine versions, other pieces such as photos have digitised versions that capture the occasions in higher quality due to being of a time with outdated technology.

Bliss explained: “It also helps us with our media operation, with all the framed images you see in the clubhouse because we’re able to put up these incredibly crystal clear photos of figures from history that in the past would have been small postcard sized blurry images.

“It’s about telling our story and continuing to make history.”

The memorabilia extends beyond the interior of the clubhouse, as other tributes and memoirs are drawn across the grounds.

A wall of photographs and trophies are also present inside of the boardroom, while an army of football stickers from fans is plastered on the wall of the club shop.

On the edge of the pitch, a number of country flags such as Brazil, Canada and South Africa fly in memory of the original tour by the Corinthians in the early 1900s.

The poster of the club’s FA Cup debut versus Watford. Credit to Dominic Bliss and Corinthian-Casuals FC.

The icons through 140 years

The most notable sight is the row of magnetized posters opposite the clubhouse, on the back of the stands.

The posters depict some of the most notable characters in the club’s 140 years, from founder NL ‘Pa’ Jackson to former player, WW1 hero and icon of the ‘Corinthian Spirit’, Thomas Rowlandson.

Bliss found Rowlandson’s story very interesting and recounted a tale of how he embodied the gentlemanly style of the parent amateur club.

Bliss said: “He was the goalkeeper in the 1900s when we went on tour to South Africa.

“He refused to try and save a penalty that is taken against him and he also deliberately stepped forward and blasted our penalty wide of the post.

“He believed, as did the squad as a whole, that the penalty kick, a reasonably new rule at the time, was unfair because it suggested that the defender who gave away the free kick had deliberately committed a foul.”

Other pieces that Bliss was keen to talk about was a set of cassette tapes recorded by former club secretary in the 80s, Bill Wickson, donated by Wickson’s daughter.

The tapes contained old radio coverage, interviews and speeches from that era which Bliss was able to digitise with the help of a sound engineer.

Three rare books documenting annals of the club from the early 1900s and the poster of the club’s FA Cup debut against Watford in 1965 were among Bliss’ favourite digitised pieces.

The newest addition is a set of Corinthian Caps belonging to former Corinthian and England national S.H. Day, that was won by the club chairman in an auction.

A Corinthian Cap, the latest addition to the Corinthian-Casuals archive.

The Brazilian connection

Passionate football fans would certainly raise eyebrows at the sound of the name Corinthian-Casuals, particularly the first part of the name.

The name ‘Corinthians’ is normally associated with the Brazilian club Sport Club Corinthians Paulista, one of the country’s most successful sides.

The connection between the teams based in Sao Paulo and Tolworth springs from the English side’s tour to Brazil in 1910, still just Corinthians FC then.

Bliss explained that the birth of the Brazilian Corinthians came from a group of rail workers in Sao Paulo being inspired by the touring Corinthians to form their own club.

Charles Miller, an ex-Corinthian, was the one who organized the trip to South America and credited with coming up with the idea of naming the new club after Corinthians FC.

Miller is recognised as the key figure in establishing the brotherhood between the two clubs and has his own magnetised plaque outside the clubhouse alongside Jackson and Rowlandson.

The relationship continues to this day, as Bliss recounted the tale of the 1988 friendly between the two clubs in Brazil that ended 1-0 in favour of the South American side.

The lone goal scorer was footballing legend Socrates, who even traded sides midway through the match to play for the Casuals for 17 minutes.

The shot of Socrates in the brown and pink colours was immortalised and a painting of the legend can be found in the clubhouse as a gift for the club years after he passed.

He is also among the figures on the magnetised poster and has a banner in the stands, gifted to the club by a group of Brazilian fans.

A banner of Brazilian football icon Socrates in the stands.

The future goal: bring more of the past

The digitisation of the archive was due to a grant that Bliss was able to win, though it was only enough for 20 years.

“Some of the other stuff we added with that grant is really important early stuff, however there’s still another 120 years of stuff.

“That’s our next challenge but also we would love to hear from former players, their families or any collectors out there who have stuff they can add to our archive and continue to build it.”

Donations from former members of the club or collectors led to the acquisition of the likes of the Bill Wickson recordings, the jersey of Brazilian World Cup winning goalkeeper Gilmar from an ex-Corinthian and the rare books from the heydays of the club.

Bliss wants to build up the archive as much as he possibly can, to create a proper memory bank of history for people to learn about.

“That’s the most important thing, that we’re immortalising people who not only helped to develop the football club at this level but to develop football around the world in many places.”

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