On This Day: Everton Chile Formed

On 24 June 1909, Everton Chile were formed as a result of the English Everton's first South American tour.

The Blues and Tottenham Hotspur had been invited to play a number of matches in Argentina and Uruguay because football was becoming a popular sport in South America and it was thought a visit from two, strong, professional clubs would enhance this development.

Both clubs had finished runners-up - in the First and Second Divisions respectively - before setting sail from Southampton in May. Well, Everton did. Unfortunately, Spurs literally missed the boat and had to arrange a hasty lift to catch up with R.M.S. Araguaya in the Solent!

Excitement was high in Argentina and Uruguay as home fans sought to measure their skills against two of the best representatives from England. Since the first game played in South America in 1867, the sport had been dominated by migrant workers from Britain and the local elite, although there was a growing movement amongst the local working class to set up their own clubs. Boca Juniors, Racing and River Plate were all founded in the immediate years before this tour.  

Power had still not shifted from the elite British-based sides however, so the tourists found themselves facing teams made up, on the whole, of amateur Britons.

Everton and Spurs played each other in the first match of the tour and drew a crowd in excess of 10,000, with the Argentinian President and assorted ministers witnessing a fine exhibition of football which ended in a 2-2 draw.

The visitors then spent the next month taking on teams from Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Rosario. All the matches against local opposition were won and there was then one more game between the two English sides, with Everton running out 4-0 victors. The star of the game and, indeed, the tour, was the Blues’ England forward Bert Freeman, who amazed the opposition with his tenacity and dribbling skills.

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The truly lasting legacy of the tour, however, came in neighbouring Chile.

As the tour of Argentina was drawing to a close, news of Everton's successes had reached over the Andes to the Chilean city of Valparaiso - at the time a busy, bustling port visited by all ships travelling between Europe and the west coast of the Americas, as the Panama Canal wasn't opened until 1914.

A group of Anglo-Chileans aged between 14 and 15-years-old decided to establish their own team - and they called it Everton Football Club. Although all were Chilean-born, there remained a firm link back to England. The leader of the group was David Foxley, whose grandparents David and Anne had emigrated from Liverpool in 1859 to set up the first steam-driven flour mill in Valparaiso.

The early days of the club were spent playing friendly games against mainly British clubs in the winter and practicing athletics in the summer. The latter element became so successful that in 1919 they changed their name to Club Deportes Everton, partly to reflect the Chilean nature of the club but also to reflect the prominence that the athletic branch had achieved in the region and also at national and international level. Several Everton athletes had been crowned South American athletics champions; Rodolfo Hammersley in 1910 and Harold Rosenqvist in 1918, for example.

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Since its foundation on 24 June 1909, the club had been considered, because of its British roots, somewhat elitist. Although open to anyone, the aspiring candidates not only had to be seconded but also find a considerable membership fee.

As the years went by, many of the older established clubs fell by the wayside, some folding as their players returned to Europe to fight for king and country, never to return. This was the case of two founder members of Everton Chile - Frank Boundy & Malcolm Fraser, who were both killed in the Great War.

But Chile's Everton began to attract fans from a wider area. In 1925, after years of being an athletics club with a football division, they relaxed their rules on membership, attracting keen and skilful players from all sectors of Valparaiso society. The impetus the football section needed was provided with a 2-1 victory over the visiting Uruguayan team Bellavista of Montevideo, who had no less than seven players who had taken part in their nation's Olympic victory in Paris in 1924.

The club went through a number of highs and lows over the next few decades but, in 1944, were elected to the national professional league, along with city rivals Santiago Wanderers. One of the conditions for their entry to the league was to transfer five miles up the coast to the town of Viña del Mar. The Ruleteros, as they became known because of the famous casino in the town, have remained there ever since.

In 1950, they became the first provincial club to win the Chilean league title - a feat repeated again in 1952, 1976 and 2008.

The Ruleteros Society, formed in 2002, is a supporters' group who aim to develop links between fans of both clubs – and they played a key role in a strengthening that bond in 2010.

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Everton Chile famously came to Goodison Park to take on the forefather Everton in a friendly game held to celebrate the associations between the two sides 101 years after the former’s formation. Jermaine Beckford and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov scored the goals as the hosts recorded a 2-0 win in the historic encounter.

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To this day, Everton Chile, or Everton de Viña del Mar to give them their full title, continue to go from strength to strength. In May 2016, they secured a return to the Primera division before this month announcing fresh investment from a Mexico-based firm and an aim of becoming a giant on the nation’s sporting scene once again.

For more information on The Ruleteros Society, click here.


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