FORMER Blackburn Rovers skipper Chris Samba currently occupies the heart of the Dynamo Moscow defence, and a book has now been released explaining how two Rovers fans helped to found the Russian club more than 120 years ago.

‘Fathers of Football’ chronicles the Britons who spread football across the world.

It includes a chapter on Blackburn’s role in the foundation of Russian club Dynamo Moscow, as well as another about how Nelson’s Jimmy Hogan helped to lay the foundations for the great Hungarian team that thrashed England at Wembley in 1953.


The book was written by Sheffield-based author Keith Baker and tells the tale of the Charnock brothers, who were among a number of Lancastrians who moved to Russia during the 19th century to aid the country’s cotton industry.

Clement and Harry Charnock were born in Chorley and both became avid fans of Blackburn Rovers, who won the FA Cup in consecutive years between 1884 and 1886.

The brothers went into the cotton industry as they followed in the footsteps of their father, who had already moved to Russia to work as a mill manager.

Clement joined him in 1887 to work at a textile factory in Orekhovo-Zuevo, near Moscow.

He decided to introduce workers at the factory to football, partly because of his love of the sport but also in an attempt to persuade workers to use their day off for something more productive than drinking vodka.

Clement brought a football over from England and also brought blue and white Blackburn Rovers shirts, shorts and socks so that a factory team could be formed.

“They had to return to England to get kit and equipment because footballs weren’t easy to obtain in Moscow in the 1880s,” said Baker.

“The brothers were massively keen on Blackburn Rovers.”

The plan to form a team had to be abandoned because of a lack of interest from workers, but was then revived when younger brother Harry replaced Clement at the mill in 1893.

The Orekhovo Sports Club football team. Blackburn Rovers fan Harry Charnock is in the middle of the second row

Harry recruited a number of British players to help launch the team. He also pacified opposition from the Tsarist authorities - wary of independent workers’ organisations because of revolutionary threats - and the Orthodox Church in order to officially form the Orekhovo Sports Club (OKS).

Matches began in 1894 and interest in the team began to rise, with football soon spreading across Moscow.

A league was set up in the capital in 1909 and OKS were champions each year between 1910 and 1914, with a team still partly made up of British players.

Harry was the manager and the team included his younger Charnock brothers, Ted and Billy, and a cousin who captained the side. Crowds had reached up to 15,000.

Following the overthrow of the Tsar and the 1917 Russian Revolution, cotton mills were nationalised and foreign workers were no longer welcome in the country.

Harry escaped Russia via Finland in 1919 after being warned that he would be arrested or shot if he stayed. Clement was arrested and deported to England.

OKS Moscow was taken over by the head of the Cheka, the Soviet Union’s first secret police force, and the club were renamed as Dynamo Moscow in 1923.

But the blue and white colours of Rovers remain to this day.

Dynamo would go on to win 11 Soviet league titles and reach the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1972.

They remain one of the powerhouses of Russian football. With Samba in their defence, they reached the last 16 of the Europa League this season before being eliminated by Napoli last week.

By coincidence another of their current players, former Chelsea man Yuri Zhirkov, has also previously admitted to being a Rovers fan because of Blackburn's title-winning days in 1995.

Dynamo are not the only team who still sport the Rovers colours.

Chris Samba

Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao both imported Rovers kits during their formative years.

Bilbao later changed colours completely after finding only Southampton kits when a senior figure at the club travelled to England in an attempt to buy new Blackburn strips.

Atletico Madrid also changed to red and white shirts, but retained the blue shorts of Blackburn.

There are further East Lancashire influences across European football, too.

“People from Lancashire were at the forefront of the development of the game around the world,” said Baker. “These people are still revered.”

None more so than Jimmy Hogan, who represented hometown club Nelson before playing 52 times for Burnley between 1903 and 1905 - leaving because the club refused to improve his salary to the minimum wage of £4 a week.

In 1910, he was offered a coaching job by Dutch club Dordrecht after going on tour to the Netherlands with Bolton Wanderers.

At 28 he became the youngest British coach in Europe and soon took charge of the Netherlands national team, before joining Austria Vienna.

The outbreak of World War One, which saw Great Britain and Austria on opposing sides, led to Hogan being quickly arrested.

He was released and returned to England in 1915, narrowly avoiding being sent to a German concentration camp.

But Hogan was offered a job with Hungarian club MTK, building a team of young players to replace those serving in the war.

He guided the club to two national titles before returning home. He had put in place the foundations for a team that would win the Hungarian league for nine years in a row.

Hungarian football had been shown a new and improved way of playing.

It continued to progress until the famous day in 1953 when they became the first country from outside the British Isles to ever beat England on home soil - astonishingly winning 6-3 at Wembley with help from the great Ferenc Puskas.

Hogan, 70 by then, was watching on from the stands as a guest of the Hungarian Football Association.

“Jimmy Hogan taught us everything we know about football,” Sandor Barcs, the president of the Hungarian FA, said after that match.

“We played football as Jimmy Hogan taught us,” said coach Gustav Sebes. “When our football history is told, his name should be written in gold letters.”