chapter  2
Decline and fall
The Corinthians in the twentieth century
ByChris Bolsmann, Dilwyn Porter
Pages 21

The Corinthian project continued into the twentieth century, the socially elite soccer club maintaining an independent existence until 1939. Though it proved increasingly difficult to make the case for gentlemanly amateurism on and off the field, the significant number of clubs adopting the name ‘Corinthians’ suggests that their efforts were not entirely in vain. English soccer’s ‘Great Split’ (1907–14) saw the Corinthians leave the Football Association (FA) to join the rebel Amateur Football Association, an ill-judged decision that left them in a soccer backwater, denied the fixtures against professional clubs on which their credibility rested. Though they repented, leading the ‘Old Boys’ clubs back into the FA fold after seven years, the Corinthian brand was significantly diminished. The First World War followed immediately, before the club could rebuild its reputation. Activities were suspended, and it proved impossible to recover the position it had once held. Touring in England in the inter-war years was reduced to an annual series of matches against soccer-playing public schools in an effort to slow the ‘rush to rugby’. Friendly matches against professional clubs were resumed in the 1920s, though they often exposed the relative weakness of football as played by gentlemen amateurs. This became even more evident when the Corinthians entered the FA Cup after 1922–23 in an effort to raise the club’s profile. Once giants of English football, by the mid-1930s, they could only aspire to the role of occasional ‘giant-killer’. The club could not live forever on the reputation it had enjoyed in the ‘Pa’ Jackson era, eventually merging with the Casuals to form the Corinthian-Casuals.