Islington Corinthians: football’s first world tour

Islington Corinthians may not be a famous name, but these footballing Phileas Foggs left their mark on history with an extraordinary 1930s round-the-world jaunt involving leopards, cocaine, cobras, crocodiles, and a bullet-strewn carry-on up the Khyber.

The Islington Corinthians were travelling through the Khyber Pass when their bus slammed to a halt and their guide yelled: “Did anyone hear a shot?” The year was 1937, and the team of amateur footballers were partway through an eccentric and unprecedented 35,000-mile, 95-game round-the-world tour. They had survived car crashes, tropical illnesses and encounters with cobras and crocodiles, but none of their exotic adventures had been as buttock-clenchingly terrifying as this drive through the notorious mountain gorge.

Published in the May 2016 issue of FourFourTwo.

Published by Paul Brown

Writes about football, history, true adventure. The Guardian, Four Four Two, When Saturday Comes, The Blizzard, Longreads, Deadspin, etc. Latest book: The Ruhleben Football Association. Twitter: @paulbrownUK