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Football and the First World War

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See reviews of Rob Cavallini's The Wanderers FC, and Around The World In 95 Games.


Around The World in 95 Games

 

Around The World In 95 Games is the amazing story of Islington Corinthians world tour of 1937/38.  It remains by far the biggest tour undertaken by a British team, but, before now, it has been largely forgotten. 

Islington Corinthians were founded in 1932 by Tom Smith in order to raise money for local charities. The club progressed only ever playing mid-week football in the London Professional Mid Week League, where they competed against the reserve teams of clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Fulham.  In 1936 the Islington Corinthians were selected to play the Chinese Olympic team in a friendly at Highbury.  Tom Smith, subsequently received an invitation from the Chinese Olympic delegation to visit China. Smith began arranging the tour itinerary, with his customary enthusiasm, enlisting the services of amateur football stars from Barnet, Wimbledon, Dulwich Hamlet, Kingstonian, Tufnell Park, Sutton United and other leading amateur clubs.   By October 1937, Smith and his 18 Islington Corinthians were ready to set sail to Holland to commence their record breaking trip.

After playing five games on the continent, the tourists entered progressed south to Egypt.  From here the Islington Corinthians travelled to India where they were to play a mammoth 32 games in the six weeks before New.

The Islington Corinthians adventures continued into 1938, travelling through Burma, Malaya, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and the Philippine Islands.  In Hong Kong the players were taken on a successful Opium Den raid by the Hong Kong Police, and in Macao stayed in a hotel which doubled as a gambling den and a brothel.  In Shanghai they were arrested by the Japanese authorities for curfew violations and in Tokyo witnessed first-hand the growing anti-western feeling. 

Islington Corinthians arrival in Hawaii, must have been a welcome relief after their role as ambassadors, and after defeating the local side 10-0, the team progressed to America.  In Hollywood they visited numerous films sets, including The Adventures of Robin Hood, and met a series of movie stars including David Niven, Victor McLaglen and Pat O’Brien. The final leg of the tour was to head back east by playing their way across Canada, before sailing for England.

 The Islington Corinthians travelled 40,000 miles on this ground breaking tour, and despite only having 17 players for the majority of the tour returned home with 68 victories and only eight defeats.  .The Islington Corinthians did not survive World War II ; the club disappeared from view after 1940, when plans for a South American tour were cancelled due to world events.

The author makes generous use of contemporary newspaper accounts of the tour, detailing the player’s activities both on and off the field and provides interesting pen pictures of those involved in the tour.   Results and statistics of the tour complete what is a fascinating account of a unique story in football history.

If you would like to order this book or contact the author check out his website at www.dognduck.net