Volume 6, Number 1

March 2008

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Irish Association Football in Argentina

By Víctor Raffo


In 1899 the AAFL decided to create the Second Division. At that time the club had 42 members and registered its team in this new category. 'There is said to be splendid material for a good team of footballers, and no time will be lost in getting practice started', The Standard newspaper reported, on the topic of the Irish club ('Sport: Porteño A. C.', The Standard, 20 April 1899, p. 5). During its first official season Porteño finished sixth out of nine participants and consisted of the following players: H. Chopitea, G. Hearney, T. Geoghegan, Torney, Laviaguerre y Rugeroni, Kenny, McDonald, F. Geoghegan (Captain), Tyrell and E. Hearne. The team was based in the district of Caballito. The Standard reported in the same year:

The Porteño Athletic Club is now preparing a grand entertainment to take place in the Catholic Club of this city next July. The saloon, through the influence of the Porteño’s Hon. President Doctor O’Farrell, has been generously granted by the Committee of the Catholic Club. It will be a grand affair. (…) The object of the concert is to get up funds to build a pavilion on the ground occupied by the Club in Caballito and belonging to the Irish Orphanage ('Editor’s Table', The Standard, 28 July 1899, p. 6).

Alumni in 1903, including five players from Lobos A.C. (Standing): Jorge Brown, Patricio Dillon, Carlos Carr Brown, Juan McKechnie, Carlos Buchanan, Ernesto Brown, and Roberto Rudd (referee). (Seated): Walter Buchanan, Juan José Moore, Andrés Mack, Spencer Leonard, and Eugenio Moore
(Photographer unknwon)

Porteño remained in the Second Division until the 1907 season when it was promoted to the First Division. A major achievement was garnered in 1911 when they ended the season on top, defeating the powerful Alumni club by 2-1. The following year a split occurred in the organisation of Argentine football and two federations emerged as a consequence. Porteño affiliated themselves to the Federación Argentina de Football and were crowned champions, however there were no longer any Irish surnames on the Porteño team.  

Common Characteristics of both Clubs

Throughout their history, both clubs shared common ground in some aspects. Both the Lobos and Porteño clubs were initiated to give priority to football, a sport which was practiced in all English-speaking circles, both ignoring cricket. In 1895, The Standard newspaper tried without success to form a Hiberno-Argentine team of cricket players to be called the ‘United Irish Team’ (UIT). It was referred to ironically as ‘the Marylebone Cricket Club of the Plate.’ It should be remembered that the editors and publishers of the newspaper, the Irish Mulhall brothers, showed great loyalty to the British Crown. The Standard’s pages never contained news of notices or statistics of the UIT, inviting the assumption that the entire initiative failed, or that it was merely a farcical enterprise. [6] In addition, in the summer of 1897-1898 the first cricket championship was played in Buenos Aires, but neither the Lobos nor Porteño were present. [7] In the particular case of Lobos, the club’s minutes of 1894 recount: 

Our cricket season began in October when the weather got too warm to continue playing football. This game, due to the lack of excitement it affords to beginners, and the excessive heat, did not take well, and after three or four frail attempts, it was ultimately given up completely, and to this day it has remained a dead letter.

Another particularity which distinguishes both clubs is that each continues to exist up to the present day, yet neither one can count among its members any Hiberno-Argentines. The Lobos club celebrated 110 years of existence in 2002. Its centennial trajectory did not however mirror its auspicious beginnings. It never returned to the First Division of Argentine Football League, but it continues to participate in regional leagues. Porteño, for its part, alternated between good and bad seasons. The club continued to play in the official Football League until 1929, when the concealed professionalism of most of its rivals was impossible to continue to deny. Ever faithful to the spirit of amateur sport, the team made the decision to dissolve its ties with the official leagues and to disband the team altogether.

The main sport of the club was in fact rugby and this continues today; in 1932 it competed in the championships of the Union of Rugby of Buenos Aires (URBA). It is a fact worthy of note that in 1938 Porteño merged with Sportive Française, a conjunction which resulted in the incorporation of many families of French origin into its ranks. Since its beginnings as a rugby team, the club colours have been blue with sky-blue horizontal bands. It was first based in Palermo, but the club’s history is characterised by constant movement of locale. Its location has changed nine times in total. From 1971 it has had its grounds in the district of San Vicente, to the south of the city of Buenos Aires.

Around 1910, the concealed professionalism or ‘shamateurism’ of Buenos Aires football began to rear its head. At this point Anglo-Argentines ‘took refuge’ in the leagues that were specifically for the schools or companies of the British community, such as the railway leagues. With the passing of the decades, English-speaking sportsmen turned their attention to rugby or cricket, but by this time Ireland had already become politically divided. Now the club of choice for the Irish community in Buenos Aires is the Hurling Club, founded on 22 August 1922.

Víctor Raffo
TEA y DeporTEA, Buenos Aires


[1] The original urban area began to extend towards the countryside. It first expanded towards the south (Cañuelas, San Vicente, Chascomús, Ranchos) and from the 1860s towards the west (Mercedes, Suipacha, Carmen de Areco, Exaltación de la Cruz, Luján, San Andrés de Giles), eventually advancing beyond the frontier with the indigenous population (Rojas, Chacabuco, 25 de Mayo, Bragado, Saladillo).

[2] The original name of the team was the ‘English High School’, but two years afterwards, the AAFL prevented them from continuing to use that name and they became known as ‘Alumni’.

[3] They were champions of the Argentina Football Association (in reality this was the league only for Buenos Aires) in the years 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1909, 1910 and 1911. Alumni were disbanded at the beginning of 1912.

[4] The Football league of Salto, Bodas de Oro (Golden Jubilee), 1978. The first president of the league was Juan J. Moore.

[5] There was no mention of this game in The Standard, which in its edition of 5 August 1895 devoted a great amount of space to a game of rugby between a combined ‘England and Ireland’ team versus a combined ‘Scotland and Wales’ team, played in the district of Lomas de Zamora, Buenos Aires. The ‘English/ Irish’ team was formed by Treacy, E. Robson, F. Jacobs, H. Anderson, F. Chantrill, C. Holway, G. C. Kennard, A. Jones, L. Jacobs, D. Hannay, C. Smiles, W. Smiles, Smiles, Liversidge and R. Brooking. It should be borne in mind that the English language press in Buenos Aires was reluctant to publish policing matters involving the English-speaking community.

[6] See for example, “Sport”, The Standard, 29 February 1895, p. 7.

[7] Participating clubs were Hurlingham, Belgrano, Buenos Aires, Flores, Lanús, Lomas and Palermo. The first cricket championships were held under the auspices of the Buenos Aires Cricket Club, in its role as custodian of the sport. La Asociación del Cricket Argentino (Argentine Cricket Association) was founded in 1912.


- Escobar Bavio, Ernesto Alumni, cuna de campeones y escuela de hidalguía (Buenos Aires: Editorial Difusión, 1951).

- Gallego, Jorge, personal archive (Buenos Aires).

- Graham-Yooll, Andrew. La colonia olvidada, (Buenos Aires: Editorial Emecé, 2000).

- Korol, Juan Carlos and Sabato, Hilda. Cómo fue la inmigración Irlandesa en Argentina (Buenos Aires: Editorial Plus Ultra, 1981).

- Lobos Athletic Club, Libro de Actas (Club minutes), (Buenos Aires).

- Lucero, Diego Un hecho cumbre en la historia del pueblo argentino: en Lobos, hace 70 años, nace el deporte nacional’ Clarín (Buenos Aires), 2 July 1962, Sports Supplement

- Murray, Edmundo Devenir irlandés (Buenos Aires: Editorial Eudeba, 2004).

- Palacio Zino, Antonio, ‘25º aniversario de la fundación del Club Atlético Porteño’ in Mister Bull (Buenos Aires), 31 July 1920.

- Raffo, Víctor. El origen británico del deporte argentino (Buenos Aires: Author’s edition, 2004).

- Raffo, Víctor Un pionero llamado Banfield (Buenos Aires: Author’s edition,, 1999).

- Rodrigo, Carlos A., ‘Los pioneros del foot-ball’ in La Arena 3 June 2001 (Santa Rosa, La Pampa).


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Copyright © Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2008

Online published: 12 March 2008
Edited: 07 May 2009

Raffo, Víctor, 'Irish Association Football in Argetnina' in "Irish Migration Studies in Latin America" 6:1 (March 2008), pp. 15-20. Available online (www.irlandeses.org/imsla0803.htm), accessed .


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