Whilst, rightly, the figure to be most often lauded as founder of Spain's doyen football -club, Recreativo de Huelva, is William Alexander Mackay, there is another, a fellow Scot and close friend, who was almost equally crucial. Indeed he was in 1889 the club's first President, in position for its first years and his name, often given as Charles Adams, is Charles Wilson Adam.
Adam was an engineer, born not as often stated in 1848 but 1845 in the footballing hotbed of Paisley, the son of a flesher, a butcher. Aged six he and the family were still in the town but by fifteen he, one of ten children, and it had moved to Newtown, across the river from Ayr. But, whilst the family remained in Ayr, indeed, his father, mother and four of his siblings are buried in the town cemetery, Charles was, as football exploded in the West of Scotland, studying engineering at Glasgow University, whilst probably living back in the town of his birth.
And it was in Paisley that in 1873, just as football arrived, he married for the first time, to Flora McLean, setting up home in the town. By then he had qualified as a gas engineer but giving his address as Milan in Italy. However, Flora was to die just two years later still in Paisley and Adam would almost four years later remarry in Maryhill, Glasgow to Maria Rollier, an Italian-Scot with a father born on Corfu. He is recorded as a civil engineer, his age given as thirty-one but probably thirty-four , staying in Dalmellington and she, twenty-two and in Edinburgh. However, they would not remain in Scotland long. It was at the end of that same year they moved to Huelva, where he became the manager of the Huelva Gas Company.
Huelva Gas Company was a Glasgow company founded that year by yet another Scot, William Simpson. He had two years earlier won the concession to supply the Spanish town. In 1880 a gas-works was built on Vega Larga, which is now the Huelva bull-ring. And, encouraged by Adam, it was on ground in front of the works that British residents of and visitors to Huelva first began to play cricket and then football. In essence Charles Adam supplied not the present but the first "Recreativo" ground.
Charles and Maria Adam would have seven children, five of whom, three girls and two boys, would survive with four Spanish- and one Italian-born. Indeed, as a measure of a enduring with William Mackay friendship 3,000 miles from home one son, John Mackay, would not only be named for him but from 1911 to 1916 also play for Recreativo itself. The family would first stay adjacent to the works but 1893 move to Calle Mendez Nunez, in 1894 to nearby Calle La Fuente and then in 1913 to Alameda Sundheim, just a short distance from a bust erected in his honour in front of the city's Casa Colon. By then Adam was probably maintaining he was sixty-five years-old but was actually sixty-eight and set for retirement. But at this point matters become vaguer. It seems at least two of his daughters, Maria and Isabel, returned to Britain. The other, Flora, would die in Tasmania. And of the boys both appear to have remained in Spain , unlike their parents, although permanency is unclear. A Charles Wilson Adam seems to have died in September 1924 in Loughborough, Leicestershire, the home-town of Isabel's husband and, outliving him by twenty-three years, the passing of a Maria Adam nee Rollier is recorded in 1947 at the age of ninety in Camberwell, London, where daughter Maria is known to have stayed and would herself die.
Huelva Gas-Works - Vega Larga (Plaza de Toros)
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