Corinthian Casuals Play At Wembley StadiumPosted on: 11 April 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
Michael Wale speaks to David Harrison, a former player and chairman of the Corinthian Casuals football club.
The phrase 'Corinthian spirit’ refers to the very best in fair play and sporting behaviour owes its origins to Corinthian FC, which was founded in 1882. In 1939 the club became Corinthian-Casuals when they merged with the Casuals, a club founded in 1883 on very similar lines to the Corinthians.
Now to celebrate their 125th birthday the club is to be honoured by being allowed to play at Wembley Stadium on Sunday April 13th, when they will meet AFC Wimbledon, who were formed after Wimbledon FC were bought and left the London Borough of Merton to become the MK Dons, based in Milton Keynes. Much controversy there, but not so with the Corinthian Casuals, whose shirts reflect their unique history by being half brown, half pink.
David Harrison, who is now 75, is a former player and chairman and is still actively involved with the club.
“There was a piece in The Daily Telegraph saying that I had been invited to play for Corinthian Casuals," he recalls.
"It was 1953, I was a student at Oxford. The Corinthians were due to play Highgate School, so I travelled up from Oxford for the match. I was a wing half, but when I arrived no-one knew anything about me. One of their great players was also a half back called Reg Vowels, and he stood down from the team so that I could play. I thought to myself, if this is a club that will make a gesture like that, I’d like to be involved with them."
David did join the the Corinithians even though he was still at Oxford, and travelled to train with them as often as he could. Unfrotuantely it was not as often as he would have liked because although they played their matches at The Oval cricket ground they used to train at a ground belonging to one of the banks, located in South East London, which was difficult to get to by train.
When Harrison left university he worked abroad for two years before returning to London and joining up with the Casuals once again.
“I started working for the BBC, and that is when I started playing more seriously, training once a week. ”
In 1956 Corinthian Casuals reached the final of the then Amateur Cup. In those days it was a big event, and was played at Wembley. They met Bishop Auckland, who were a very strong club based in the North East. Eighty thousand people turned up for the Wembley final, which was drawn 1-1. Bishop Auckland won the replay 4-1. At the time Harrison said he was on the fringes, so did not play in the two games, but then he got more and more involved and played in and ran the reserve team, at the time Surrey Test player Alex Stewart’s father Mickey was running the first team.
Harrison also played in the schools team, a section that the Corinthians always thought very important because not only did they play the soccer playing independent schools, but also schools that played rugby one term and soccer the other. The Corinthians also toured to spread the word of soccer abroad.
It was in a match in South Africa many years ago that when a penalty was awarded against the visitors they removed their goalkeeper, thus ensuring the South African side scored. There were also two other recorded occasions when the Corinthians were awarded penalty kicks and ruled that they should not have been awarded, so they purposely shot wide of the goal posts. Their whole ethos was to be sporting in the best sense of the word.
Oh how they should be brought in to run the appalling modern game, that drags itself deeper and deeper into the bad behavioural mire week by week. The Corinthian spirit has got to be brought back into the game of soccer. No arguing with the referee . The players should line up at the end, like rugby teams do, and clap each other off and shake hands. It is only a game for goodness sake.
So if you want to watch a bit of sporting history get down to Wembley on Sunday afternoon, March 13. For further infromation visit www.corinthian-casuals.com.
The Corinthian Casuals team playing at Wemley Stadium, Sunday March 13th
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