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THERE THE role of Scots professional footballers in the transformation of the world game from a dribbling, kick and rush style favoured by the English to the shortpassing “scientific” game favoured by the Scots, can be shown in the career of one of the greatest Scotch Professors, John Harley. When Harley arrives in Montevideo, the Uruguyans are mesmerised by the man’s skills and recognise immediately that the older English style has given way to something vibrant and different….. “HARLEY CAMBIA LA FORMA DE JUGAR Harley changes the way we play, screams the heading in 100 Years of Glory - The History of Uruguyan Football….“[he was] the first foreigner to transform the Uruguyan style of play. He taught us how the ball should be passed at speed along the ground from front to back… and put a stop to the tradition of thumping long balls up the park”. What a perfect description of the scientific game, and what an immediate effect it had, for within twenty years of Harley arriving in the country, Uruguay had won the inaugural world cup of 1930. Sadly, at a time when we actually could have contested the latter stages of the world cup finals, we bided at hame, content to have a go at England in the British championships.

In that 1930 World Cup though, we did have several players in the American team that came third, while Uruguay’s opponents in the final, Argentina, owed its rise in football fortune to the efforts of the Scotsman recognised as the Father of Argentine football, Alexander Watson Hutton. He founded both the Argentinian League in 1891 and the Football Association in 1893. Originally, on his arrival in Buenos Aires in 1882, he had taught at St Andrews Scottish School in the city and began a successful team there. In fact, the very first Argentine championship of 1891, resulted in a play off between St Andrews FC and Old Caledonians FC, the St Andrews boys coming out on top against their compatriots. Hutton himself though went on to open his own English High School, which had an even greater emphasis on football. As the men’s game became more organised, Hutton’s team of former pupils, Alumni would develop into one of the best of the country’s leading clubs, winning 10 of the first 12 Argentine championships. The passing skills of Alumni and St Andrews players were in demand further afield - the former St Andrews player, James Buchanan is described as the fist “maestro” to play for Peñarol in Uruguay. Watson Hutton organised the first international between Uruguay and Argentina in 1901, and fielded an Argentine eleven full of Alumni players.

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iScot Magazine
September 2018

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