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THE 1899 OXFORD UNIVERSITY AFC "EASTER TOUR" TO PRAGUE & VIENNA

I am grateful to Christian Schreiber of the University of Vienna for contacting me and sending me information about the Oxford University “Easter Tour” of Prague and Vienna, 1899, which he claims significantly advanced the development of the game in Austria. From the team list he provided, I have found information about those who accompanied Morgan Maddox Morgan-Owen on that tour.

The English community in Vienna, largely businessmen, began playing football in Austria in about 1894. This introduced the game to the Viennese though play was ‘wild’ and unstructured. Matters gradually improved and the Austrian football association, "Comité zur Veranstaltung von Fußballwettspielen", was founded in 1898 by a former West Bromwich professional, Mark Nicholson, who worked for "Cook & Son" in Vienna. There was a giant leap forward the following year with a demonstration of football skills from a twelve man visiting squad from Oxford University, one of whom was Morgan Maddox Morgan-Owen.

Just as people worldwide now admire the players of Manchester United in those days it was the British players from famous amateur teams such as Corinthians and from the burgeoning teams fielding professional players who were idolised, their sporting careers being reported in foreign newspapers, such as "Allgemeine Sportzeitung" in Austria. At the beginning of 1899 this prompted the "Vienna Cricket & Football Club", the second football club in Vienna, to invite Oxford University AFC to play in Austria.

On this "Easter Tour" the so called "Oxonians" were to play against a team comprising the best Vienna-born players and the following day a mixed team, strengthened by the addition of British players who worked in Vienna. The Austrian FA organised some training-games. There was great anticipation whipped up by Austrian newspaper reports describing the Oxford team as one of the best teams from Great Britain, whose players were unbeatable and heroic. Morgan, himself, was described by Allgemeine Sportzeitung, 25 March 1899 as follows: "M. M. Morgan-Owen (Oriel College), 22 years old, 173cm tall, 70 kg, attended Shrewsbury-School and there he was very successful in all branches of athletics. He has been playing for Oxford for three years, the first two years as centre-forward and now as a midfield player."

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Oxford Univerity AFC before travelling to Austria (MM seated far right). Allgemeine Sportzeitung", 25 March 1899, S. 323. [Click on picture for enlargement]
( click here for information about players )

On March 28th 1899 the team arrived in Prague and on the same day beat the best team from the Continent, Slavia Prague, 3-0. The next day they beat DFC Prague 9-0. Both teams, Slavia and DFC, were regarded on the Continent as unbeatable.

On 1 April 1899 the team arrived in Vienna. The English-based "Vienna Cricket & Football Club" held a banquet for them at the "Bristol" hotel, Vienna. Amongst the players and guests were representatives of the British embassy and the American author Samuel L. Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, who was at that time living in Vienna.

On 2 April 2 1899 Oxford Univerity AFC beat the team of Vienna-born players 15-0 at the WAC-Football-Ground in the famous Prater! The following day, at the same ground, the tourists beat a selection of players from England and Vienna 13-0! The hosts were not downhearted at these massive defeats but found the play of the Oxford students inspirational and educative.

Max Johann Leuthe, a pioneer of football in Austria and a player in both those games, said that it was an honour to see how they played. He greatly admired English football, often playing under the pseudonym "Mac John" Leuthe, and he was the first Austrian player to be invited to join the English "Vienna Cricket & Football Club". Leuthe was keen to pass on what he learned from the tourists to other Austrian footballers and he did much to foster the game in his country.

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Oxford at the WAC-Ground (Prater), 1899. R. Lechner, Bildarchiv der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, Wien
Standing (L to R): F W Tomlinson, M M Morgan-Owen, F H Hollins, unknown man, E M Jameson, G C Vassall, W Blackburn, A M Hollins, S E Osborne,
Seated (L to R): S H J Russell, W J L Wallace, C F Ryder.  (Also in the squad & in previous photo, W L H Moss) ( click here for information about players )
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