A new exhibition in Medway celebrates the life and legacy of Isaac Newell who was an inspiration for football in Argentina.
Born in Strood in 1853, Medway Council’s ‘Isaac Newell: more than a name’ exhibition at The Guildhall Museum in Rochester explores Isaac Newell’s life, growing up around the time of Charles Dickens.
When working in Argentina twenty years ago, Kent resident and Gillingham FC fan, Adrian Pope watched a Newell’s Old Boys football match and became curious about the English-sounding name of the club.
Over the last two decades, Adrian has campaigned for the story of Isaac Newell to be told.
Adrian said: “I was an English teacher from Kent, who discovered that the club was named after an English teacher from Kent! The story of 16-year-old emigre Isaac Newell is remarkable, and Club Atlético Newell’s Old Boys is a truly remarkable club.”
The exhibition tells the story of Isaac’s childhood in Medway, his early life in Argentina, and how he established the Anglo Argentine Commercial School with his wife, Anna. Through education and sport, they changed the face of education in Argentina, and it was through the school that Isaac introduced Association Football to his students.
In November 1903, Isaac’s former students – led by his son Claudio – founded Club Atlético Newell’s Old Boys, the name honouring the life and work of his father. The Argentine Primera Division Football Club recently celebrated its 119-year anniversary and is one of the few historic clubs that has remained active since it was founded.
Visitors to the exhibition will learn more about the club’s history, the development of the club badge and kit through that time and the high-quality facilities and sporting opportunities available to the community.
Club Atlético Newell’s Old Boys is a club of recognised national and international prestige. Within the exhibition, there is various memorabilia related to Marcelo Bielsa, Diego Maradona, and Lionel Messi, plus mentions of other famous faces including Gabriel Batitsuta, Mauricio Pochettino, and Maxi Rodriguez.
The great-great-granddaughter of Isaac Newell, Margarita Bitetti Newell, formally opened the exhibition on behalf of the Newell family on Monday, 7 November.
Isaac has finally begun to be recognised in the United Kingdom
She said: “The family is grateful that Isaac Newell, his name, and his legacy are finally returning to his homeland. The Newell name is recognised throughout the world for football, and thanks to this exhibition the pioneer Isaac has finally begun to be recognised in the United Kingdom.”
Fabian Costello, a former player of Newell’s Old Boys also attended the launch and donated his playing shirt to the exhibition.
Celebrating Isaac Newell's remarkable legacy
Cllr Howard Doe, Deputy Leader of Medway Council and Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “Medway is steeped in history and we are delighted to be shining a light on the man from Strood who inspired football in Argentina. This new exhibition explores the life of Isaac Newell and celebrates his remarkable legacy. We look forward to welcoming visitors to the exhibition.”
The exhibition will be on display at The Guildhall Museum until Sunday, 4 December during the museum’s normal opening hours. Entry to The Guildhall Museum is free.
Medway has fantastic connectivity with good motorway links and high-speed services to London.