The Origins of Penarol

“File:Pcio Penarol – Entrada x Galicia.jpg” by Andrea Mazza is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the most famous and least talked about clubs in the world is Penarol of Uruguay. They are also the forerunners of professionalism in the sport, but to get it passed they had to convince the English settlers that it was better than the amateur concept that they were so used to. After the adaptation very few clubs can boast the upwards trajectory of what Penarol became.

The club existed before becoming professional like most clubs in the world. The club is named after the area they are in, and that area got its name from a Northern Italian from the city of Pinerolo, named Piedmontese Juan Bautista Crosa. By 1751 he left Italy and emigrated to the Americas. He settled in Banda Oriental. Records at that time show he went by the name Crosa Pienerolo, then Crosa Pinarol, and eventually going down to Penarol. 

In July of 1890, the Central Uruguay Railway Company decided to acquire a plot of land in Montevideo, a place known as Penarol, which belonged to Don Juan Leard. In May of 1891 Villa Penarol was inaugurated. That was followed by in September of 1891 when a sports club was created, called the Central Uruguay Railway Cricket Club. People knew it by Penarol. 

On September 28, 1891 the club was brought into existence, so that took them from just having cricket to having football to. Most clubs in South America started out with either rugby or cricket as their main sport, due to the high volume of English expats in the area. Football was thought of as a low class sport up until maybe the nineties. The colors adopted by the club were gold and black which were adopted to represent the colors of a railroad. The first match was against the students of the British School. Penarol won 2-0. Which would bring up almost thirty years later the need for professionalism in the game.

The first official league match has a different tone to it. The first league had clubs: Penarol, Deustcher Fussball Klub, Albion F Club and Uruguay Club. So on June 10, there were two matches with Albion, and Penarol started with a line up of Faustino Fabre, Richard de los Rios, James Buchanan, Carlos Ward, Lorenzo Mazzuco, Alfredo Jones, Edmundo Acebedo, Guillermo Davis, Juan Pena, Tomas Lewis, and Charles Lidneblad. It was a hard fought match, from the jump Albion took the lead with a goal from Lodge. Guillermo Davis then took it upon himself to even the score not too long after, putting the ball past Enrique Sanderson. But he wasn’t done as just before the end of the first half he took a pass from Juan Pena and put the ball in the back of the net to go in 2-1. The match was a back and forth affair after that before it finished 2-1 for Penarol. 

Penarol held assemblies that were very heated, and were going against the deficit of 1931. After many sessions of peace talks on April 7, 1932 the assembly accepted a conditional resolution: Penarol would accept professionalism, would agree with the entities whose economic interests agree with the club, and they must provide a balance sheet of all money for the club. The ten clubs going to the structured professional league was: Penarol, Wanderers, Defensor, River Plate, Racing, Bella Vista, Central, Rampla Juniors, South America, and Nacional. The championship was to be played over three rounds, with one of them being on a neutral field. Players contracts would be a maximum of two years, and once it expired the player could get their player pass. 

Penarol approved their admission into the professional game during an assembly on May 9, 1932. After this the club showed their talent by winning their first match as a professional side 2-0 with goals from Lorenzo Fernandez and Luis Matta. It didn’t take them too long to get their goals flowing as in another big match they won 2-0 with Perez Seres and Lorenzo Fernandez scoring. Records at this time are hard to find so you have many half scores, no opposition side, or players known,

Penarol started out like most clubs in South America. Soon they were to make massive inroads into becoming the great club that they are. The continent of South America has gone through some really long periods of wars, and problems. However the sport has flourished in many parts of the continent. Penarol can be seen as one of the great sides in the hemisphere.

Published by Stephen Brandt

Stephen Brandt is the host of the Subs Bench on He has written many articles on the sport over the last 15 years. His first book Boca Juniors A History and Appreciation of Buenos Aires's Most Succesful Futbol Team is out in the fall. He currently lives in Buffalo New York, USA.

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