26.03.2011 Census records help identify the Busby boy who took football to Brazil
This Sunday's football friendly, Scotland against Brazil, coincides with the 2011 Census, which takes place throughout the UK on 27 March and historic census records have helped identify the Caledonian pioneer - a Renfrewshire boy from Busby - who introduced the beautiful game to Brazil.
Scotland's Census Director Peter Scrimgeour met with Curator of the Scottish Football Museum Richard McBrearty at Hampden Park, Glasgow to present the museum with an official extract copy of the original census research data that allowed researchers to positively link a little-known Scotsman to the introduction of organised football in Brazil.
After extensive research into the 19th century Brazilian footballing exploits of a Mr Thomas Donohoe, originally from Busby in Renfrewshire, the museum was able to use original data collected in the 1891 Census to complete the missing pieces of a quite remarkable tale. Namely the story of a young Scottish textile worker who took the game he loved to the country that has since become renowned for producing the most flamboyant and skilful footballers of our time and a nation synonymous with the idea of 'the beautiful game'.
Census information was used to confirm the research that Mr Donohoe organised Brazil’s first football match, a five-a-side game in April 1894. This was a full six months before it was previously recorded with Charles Miller forming his team in Sao Paulo. A dye expert, Mr Donohoe had moved to the country the previous year to work in a factory near Rio de Janeiro.
The 31-year old Mr Donohoe, who played for teams in Busby, even had to import a football and boots from Britain as there were none in Brazil.
Mr McBrearty said: “The census records were crucial in linking the Tom Donohoe of Brazil with his early upbringing in Scotland. This information confirmed his Scottish roots and has helped to add a new chapter to Scotland’s proud football history.“
Mr Scrimgeour added: “The Brazil angle is fascinating, and timely given the sides meet on census day itself. All census questionnaires will be delivered before this Sunday, which means the travelling Tartan Army can fill theirs in beforehand, or on their return.
“Information from the census is hugely important given the role it plays in informing our planning of services and allocation of resources – including sport - but it also provides fascinating and useful historical data and as we see in the case of Thomas, it can prove invaluable in terms of verifying the identity of the man who went on to play a significant, though up until now unheralded, role in the development of global football."
2.5 million Household questionnaires will have all been delivered by Sunday. If you have not yet received your census questionnaire by then please contact the helpline on 0300 123 1702.