At 130 years old, the British Club innovates its traditions
When Charles Miller, the father of Brazilian football, introduced the practice of the British sport here, he never imagined that it would take off so well. Miller, a visionary, who was in charge of organizing this recreation for British expats who worked at the São Paulo Railway Company, building the Paulista train line, scored a magnificent goal, making history with this sport. His efforts were fundamental in forming the São Paulo Athletic Club - SPAC, which became the first Paulista Football Champion, in 1902. From then on, SPAC, which has always been known as the British Club, is top in the ranking of many sporting events; though very few are aware of this. It holds the honour of having built one of the first football grounds in the country, amongst other feats. From its intimacy with the ball, whether by the foot or hand of famous players, it has left a legacy beyond the four corners of the field.
Among the list of firsts, the club held the first Lawn Tennis match on the first clay court in this “drizzly land”. Then rugby arrived, with the most beautiful official ground in the city. SPAC´s teams have many breath-taking titles, having been Brazilian Rugby Champions no less than 13 times, with, internationally renowned players, and four-times Champion of the First Paulista Football League. Next came Bowls, with a green that would make the best in Henry VIII´s reign envious. Furthermore, a team that has won almost all the South American championships in which it played.
The club´s Trophy Memorial glows with trophies, cups and distinctions of all sizes.
Deeply admired by all in the Community, SPAC continues to be an icon of the “British way” of being and living, adapted to Brazil´s sunny spirit. The new Directors are adding a different repertoire of actions to the club´s traditions,as is to be expected in a period marked by the speed generated by technological innovations, the Web, social media and involvement.
Now that it is celebrating its 130th anniversary (it was founded in 1888, a contemporary of Princess Isabel´s Lei Aurea), SPAC reflects accumulated experience and “today`s” spirit of restlessness.
With a very diverse profile, and approximately 1,100 shares, its members include many foreigners, intellectuals, artists, journalists and business executives. Modern people, who prefer the discreet and minimalistic style of SPAC, both at the Town Club in the Consolação region, which qualifies as the sports club nearest to the Centre, and our Country Club, in Santo Amaro, near the Guarapiranga lake.
In SPAC´s agenda, we must highlight the Happy Hour, in the best British style, every Friday night. Besides fish & chips, the classical hit, a menu with craft beer, whisky, cocktails, appetizers and quick dishes nourish waltzing feet as they spin on the dance floor. Yesterday’s songs and successes are played live. Over 20 big events are held every year in the social areas, such as the Carnaspac, a June Festival and the club´s anniversary ball.
Annete Conradi and John Mills