Glasgow. Birthplace of Argentine football

Glasgow. Birthplace of Argentine football

Messi, Tevez, Maradona, Kempes.  They owe it all to Scotland.  Had it not been for a Glaswegian spark, football would not have been graced by Argentina.  Dan Brennan has a history lesson.

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I've got an Argentinian friend staying with me in Glasgow at the moment. Goes without saying he's a massive football fan. Yesterday I took him to see the spot where the first ever international was played (between England and Scotland in 1872 at the West of Scotland Cricket Club down the road from my flat in fact). He was impressed. Today, when I offered to take him to the birthplace of Argentinian football he didn't know whether to be amused or insulted. An outlandish joke, surely? Not at all...

To be precise, the birthplace of Argentinian footy can be traced to 29 Eglinton Street in Glasgow's famous Gorbals district just a couple of miles from Hampden Park (where, incidentally, Maradona scored his first ever international goal 31 years ago).

It was there, on 10 June 1853, that Alexander Watson Hutton, the man acknowledged as 'the father of Argentinian football' was born.

Much of Hutton's story was sketchy, so a couple of years back, I set about filling in the gaps. My research revealed a sporting dynasty that lives on five generations later, as well as a cast list packed with Scots and their descendants, all of whom played a fundamental role in the formative years of Argentinian football.

The influence continues to the present day. In the 1986 World Cup final, the scorer of the first goal in Argentina's 3-2 win against West Germany was Jose Luis Brown, direct descendant of a Scot who set sail for Buenos Aires in 1825. There is also Carlos Javier MacAllister, who not so long ago in 1994 was a diminutive ginger-headed left-back who helped Argentina reach the 1994 World Cup finals.

MacAllister's roots are in the Kingdom of Fife, which was also where the Watson Huttons hailed from. Alexander parents, Robert and Ellen, were Fifers from humble agricultural and coalmining families, who moved to Glasgow in the 1840s, where Robert set himself up as a grocer at 29 Eglinton Street.

When both parents died of consumption Alexander was sent to live with his grandmother in Edinburgh and, against the odds, eventually managed to gain a degree from Edinburgh University, which enabled him to gain employment as a teacher at a local school.

By this stage he was living as a lodger in the home of a widow Alexandrina Waters and her three children. This incidental biographical detail was to have significant consequences, both for Alexander's personal life and for Argentinian football.

In 1880, Alexander was offered a position as rector at the St Andrews Scotch School in Buenos Aires, which had been founded by the first wave of Scottish settlers in 1838 (it still exists today). Setting sail from Liverpool in late 1881, he arrived in Argentina on 25 February 1882, and took up his new position two months later. Perhaps influenced by the tragedies that had befallen his brothers, Hutton was evangelical in his commitment to physical education, and passionate about the nascent sport of association football.

At a time when rugby was the sport of choice among Argentina's expatriate community, his efforts to teach "the animalistic game of football" were not universally welcomed. A year into his tenure, he fell out with the school's board over his insistence that football and physical education generally be given more prominence. When they refused his request for a gym and playing field, he left to found his own school.

The English High School of Buenos Aires opened its doors on 2 February 1884. By 1886, Hutton had 50 boarders and 500 day pupils, and football was at the heart of the curriculum. Such was the school's success that he had to move to bigger premises.

On 27 July 1886, another person from his Edinburgh past resurfaced in Argentina. William Waters, son of Hutton's old landlady, stepped off the SS Caxton in Buenos Aires to take up a position at the English High School, bringing with him a bag of leather footballs. Waters eventually went on to become a successful importer of sporting goods to South America. But before that he made his mark on the pitch.

In 1891, a group of émigrés, including another Scot Alec Lamont, a teacher at St Andrews school and a keen footballer, gathered together five teams Old Caledonians, Buenos Aires and Rosario Railways, Buenos Aires Football Club, Belgrano Football Club and St Andrews Scotch Athletic Club under the aegis of the Argentine Association Football League (AAFL). William 'Guillermo' Waters was captain and coach of St Andrews, who won what was the first ever league tournament staged anywhere outside Britain.

As the name suggests, the first Argentinian champions were made up entirely of Scots, as was the team that they pipped to the title, Old Caledonians, who featured employees of a British plumbing company, Bautaume & Peason, which was laying a new sewage system in Buenos Aires.

However, due to lack of funds and poor management the league collapsed in 1892. It was left to Hutton to pick up the pieces. Utilising all of his administrative and organisational skills he relaunched the AAFL on 21 February 1893. His revamped body is regarded as South America's first proper national football association, and the eighth oldest in the world.

Hutton remained as president of the AAFL until 1896, occasionally doubling up as a referee, and all the while overseeing the development of the English High School. His plans to spread the footballing gospel were given a major boost on 18 April 1898, when the Argentinian Ministry of Justice and Public Education passed a law making physical education mandatory in all schools.

Hutton took full advantage. Having acquired a sports field in the north of Buenos Aires, he founded the Club Atlético English High School for pupils, ex-pupils and teachers. The following year, the club's football team took its bow in the new second division of the AAFL, finishing one point behind winners Banfield. Over the next decade, English High School CA, or Alumni as they became two years later, became the dominant force in Argentinian football, winning the first division title 10 times between 1900 and 1911.

In 1902, a further strand of Hutton's football legacy was added, when Alexander's son Arnold made his debut on the left wing for Alumni. After his sporting career was interrupted by studies in Europe he started but never completed a medicine degree at the University of Edinburgh 'Arnoldo' Hutton played a prominent role in some of Alumni's greatest triumphs. In 1906 he featured in the first ever international club match, as Alumni defeated the South African national team 1-0 in front of a crowd of 12,000, while in 1910 he finished as the league's top scorer, with 13 goals. He also represented Argentina at polo and cricket.

At this point, another son of the Gorbals entered the story: Thomas Lipton, the famous tea magnate, was born a couple of streets away from Hutton in 1848, and it is more than likely that the two families, both running grocery stores in the Gorbals, would have known each other. By the turn of the century, Lipton was already a multimillionaire with a burgeoning retail and tea empire, and in 1906 he agreed to fund the Copa Lipton, an annual encounter between Argentina and neighbours Uruguay, which continued for several decades and was revived most recently in 1992.

Arnoldo Watson Hutton scored in the second Copa Lipton as Argentina ran out 2-0 winners. He was also on the scoresheet when Argentina overcame Uruguay and Chile to lift the Copa Centenario in 1910, which was staged to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Argentina's 1810 revolution, and the precursor to the Copa America.

On several occasions, Arnoldo lined up for Argentina with his brother-in-law Wilfred later known as Wilfredo Stocks, a Nottingham-born centre forward who emigrated to South America with his family and ended up marrying Alexander Watson Hutton's eldest daughter Edith. However, it was another clan, the Browns, who were the dominant force in the national team in the first decade of the 20th century.

On 11 August 1825, James Brown was one of 220 Scots on board the Symmetry, one of several ships that left Leith and Greenock for Buenos Aires that year. Their passage had been paid by two Roxburghshire-born landowners, John and William Parish Robertson, who, with the consent of the Argentinian government, set out to establish an 'experimental agricultural colony' at Monte Grande, outside Buenos Aires.

Four years later the experiment had failed, but many of the original settlers went on to prosper. Brown like many other "hardy sons of rustic toil" hailing largely from the south and west of Scotland, became a successful farmer. The youngest of his offspring, also James, went on to father nine sons, no less than seven of whom Jorge Gibson, Ernesto, Eliseo, Alfredo, Carlos Carr, Tomas and Diego Hope Brown featured for Hutton's Alumni team. The first five also played regularly for Argentina, as did their cousin Juan Domingo Brown.

The Browns helped ensure that Alumni dominated the club scene until 1910. However from 1906 onwards there were already signs of change. Until then, the board of the AFA had been entirely made up of British and Irish emigres, the official language was English, and there was a general policy of excluding the 'creole' population. Watson Hutton began to focus more of his energies on the running of his school. When he retired in 1912, Alumni Athletic Club was disbanded, marking the end of the 'British Period' of Argentinian football, and the ascendancy of fútbol criollo (creole football). Already by the following year more familiar names such as Boca Juniors, River Plate and the first of the great 'creole' clubs, Racing Club, were coming to the fore, and the Scottish names on the teamsheets were being replaced by Hispanic ones.

Alexander Watson Hutton died on 9 March 1936, and was buried at the British Cemetery at Chacarita. His role in the development of Argentinian football has not been forgotten. The library at the Argentinian Football Association is named in his honour, while a popular 1950 feature film, Escuela de Campeones (School of Champions], brought the story of Hutton and the Alumni team to the silver screen.

Meanwhile, the Hutton family's influence on Argentinian sport lives on today although not in football. His grandson Gilbert Stocks played cricket for Argentina, as did his great grandson Peter Rodrigo Stocks, who is the current vice president of the Argentinian Cricket Association.

Argentina's Scottish connection

WILLIAM WATERS (1865 - 1906)

Captain and coach of the St Andrews Athletic Club team that won Argentina's first ever league championship in 1891. Persuaded to come out to Argentina five years earlier by Hutton, who had boarded with his family in Edinburgh, and became Hutton's brother in law in 1902.


The most famous of the seven ball-playing Brown brothers. Known as 'El Patriarcho' ('The Patriarch'), he featured in all ten of Alumni's league title wins between 1900 and 1911, and earned 23 caps for Argentina.

ERNESTO BROWN (1885-1935)

Known as El Pacifico ('the Calm One') for his assured performances for Alumni and Argentina at left-back. The five other Brown siblings were Eliseo (born 1888), Carlos Carr (1882), Tomas (1884), Diego Hope (1875), and Alfredo (1886). Together with their cousin Juan Domingo, they featured with varying regularity during Alumni's golden age of 1900-1911. Eliseo, Alfredo and Juan Domingo also played for Argentina.


The son of Alexander Watson Hutton son, who went on to play for Alumni, Belgrano Athletic and Argentina at outside left. He won 17 caps, scoring six goals, and claimed several league titles with Alumni, finishing top scorer in the Argentinian league in 1910.

THOMAS LIPTON (1848-1931)

The Gorbals-born tea magnate who gave his name and funds to the Copa Lipton, the annual showdown between Argentina and neighbours Uruguay, and which began in 1906 and was most recently played in 1992.


Presbyterian preacher of Scottish descent who founded the Quilmes Rovers Club in 1887. The club still exists today as Quilmes Atletico Club, making it the oldest club in Argentina. The first team featured Scots Alex Lamont, LC Penman, R Muir and D Moffat.


A direct descendant of the original James Brown, who scored one of Argentina's goals in the 3-2 1986 World Cup final victory over West Germany. Is currently a candidate to become one of Diego Maradona's coaching assistants with the national team.


The left-back, whose ginger hair and surname betrayed his roots, earned three caps helping Argentina qualify for the 1994 World Cup. He played for Argentino Juniors, Racing Club and Boca Juniors, for whom he scored the winning goal in Argentina's Gold Cup in 1992. In 1998, he and his brother Patricio founded their own academy, the MacAllister Sports Club.

Dan is one of the UK’s most prominent football writers and contributes regularly to FourFourTwo, When Saturday Comes and World Soccer magazine.  You can follow him on twitter @DanBrennan99