With the World Cup now well underway many of us have been gripped with football fever. Already we have seen some historic moments at the World Cup in Qatar, from the controversy surrounding its hosting to some unprecedented football matches which will surely be remembered for years to come. Argentina has been one of the favourites going into this tournament which made their defeat to Saudi Arabia even more shocking, breaking their record 36 matches unbeaten. One of the reasons Argentina are favourites at the World Cup is their love for this unifying sport, and their captain Lionel Messi. Messi is often considered one of, if not the greatest players of all time ranking alongside the likes of Pele, Cristiano Ronaldo and fellow Argentinian Diego Maradona. Both Messi and Maradona don’t just share a nationality and love of football, but they are also both linked to Argentinian club Newell’s Old Boys. This club and its namesake Isaac Newell have been fundamental to the rise of football in this South American nation.
Isaac Newell is seen as the pioneer of football in Argentina, with his contributions helping this nation fall in love with a sport with which they are now synonymous. Newell was born in 1853 in our local area Strood, and went on to move to Argentina aged 16 bringing his love of football with him. The football club Club Atletico Newell’s Old Boys was named after Isaac Newell and has been one of the longest-running clubs in Argentina. A founding member of the local regions football association they have won several championships, national cups and came runners up twice in the prestigious Copa Libertadores de América (the highest tournament held in South America). Not only has the club had its share in trophies, cups and awards but it has equally been known for its youth programme, with none other than Lionel Messi having trained there as a child.
So with all this in mind and the World Cup gripping nations across the globe, why not learn more about this local legend who helped bring this fantastic sport to Argentina? An exhibition dedicated to Isaac Newell and Club Atletico Newell’s Old Boys runs until December 4th at the Guildhall Museum in Rochester. Having been myself it was fascinating learning about his upbringing, his love for the sport and how this one man's travel to Argentina helped bring about the most popular sport to a nation. There is memorabilia there to see from the iconic red and black Newell’s kit to old pictures of Argentinian icons of the sport. You can also see what world-class players such as Lionel Messi thinks of the club that springboarded his career.
Football has always had its rivalries which make the sport more intense, with the rivalry between England and Argentina being no exception. Both nations have had several games across the decades which have fueled this famous rivalry, from the 1966 Quarter Finals World Cup match to the now infamous 1986 World Cup meeting. You can read all about some of the most iconic goals in history including Maradona’s famous ‘Hand of God’ goal which Argentina would progress to win the World Cup from.
So come on down to the Guildhall Museum and learn all about how a local man from Strood went on to bring the most beloved sport in the world to this South American nation. How Club Atletico Newell’s Old Boys has had some of the most iconic players of all time grace its pitch, and the impact this club has had in Argentina and beyond.