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When Exeter Took On Brazil (1914)

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 we are the ones who kicked it off
and always stake the claim
for taking it around the world
and starting this great game ~
they say it was a railwayman
who introduced football
who carried with him to Brazil
his suitcase and a ball
and in another century
on beaches in the sand
they learnt the game we love today
it spead across the land
they played with balls of cloth and string
in rags and in bare feet
on sundried grass on stony ground
on crowded dirty streets ~

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 a British side embarked on tour
a team that we all know
who travelled from the Wild South West
a hundred years ago
their reputation was unknown
their style was far from pretty
they left their mark in blood and studs
the mighty Exeter City
‘they’ languished in the Southern League
the War was drawing near
the year was 1914
but City held no fear

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 ‘we’ were the kings of football
the ‘founder gods’ back then
when City played in Rio
and made it home again
they were the first to play Brazil
and little did they know
or ever dream in years to come
how great their hosts would grow

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 they played with grit and passion
they really stood their ground
the ‘Grecians’ battled to a man
they fought and stood us proud
that little side they were the first
and they can proudly say
how City from the Wild South West
took on Brazil that day
and from St James’ stands you’ll hear
the home fans singing still
“Have you ever, have you ever
Ever played Brazil?”

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 their reputation was unknown
their style was far from pretty
they left their mark in blood and studs
the mighty Exeter City

Brazil 2 Exeter City 0 ~Laranjeiras Stadium~ Rio de Janeiro 21 July 1914
(Info courtesy of The Guardian) Held before 3,000 spectators at a game in which two goals were scored and much blood was shed .A game which would kick-start Brazilian international football and precipitate unparalleled success for the Seleção.

As remarkable as it sounds in 1914 Exeter City v|(then in the Southern League) were the first team to play against Brazil. The side set sail from Southampton aboard the SS Andes on an 18 day voyage to South America. The sea journey itself would have been an incredible experience for the young players from Devon but what followed is now footballing folklore.

To commemorate this On Sunday July 20, 2014 Exeter City will play against a team made up of players from Fluminense and other Brazilian sides in a repeat of the game regarded as the country’s first international fixture.


Click here for this excellent Guardian video about the match


For classic images of the match on our Football Poets on Facebook page click here

Editor Post-script note:
In the summer of 1914 Exeter City of the Southern League undertook a tour of Argentina and on their return journey stopped off for 3 games in Rio de Janeiro.
The Exeter chairman, Mr. McGahey, obviously hadn’t done his homework on Brazil. He expressed his surprise at seeing a game in progress as they landed in Rio:most of them playing in bare feet.
He also presented a less than favourable picture of Brazilian pitches:
recording that..”if you imagine one of the worst junior grounds you know of, and then take it up and shake it like a carpet and plentifully besprinkle it with stones and pieces of bricks, and then bake the lot in a tropical sun, you will have some remote notion of the ground…

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/when-exeter-took-on-brazil-1914/