John Stark

John Stark may not be a name that is known to many even in Brazil but the man from Thornliebank should be recognised as pivotal to the country's game. When Busby's Tommy Donohoe, the original bringer of football, at least to Rio de Janeiro, returned in December 1903 from Scottish home-leave he came with two new footballs, aged legs, he was forty, but renewed aspiration. It prompted at the factory where he had worked for a decade the resurrection of the idea to form a company sports' club, importantly for Brazil specifically a non-racial club. A pre-meeting was held and foundation took place in April 1904 with Stark presiding and, whilst he did not become one of the office holders, it was because he was specifically chosen as "Captain of Football". 

John Stark was born in 1868 in Thornliebank, his parents also both from the then village. His father started as a bleach-field work, who by the time of his first son's birth was a foreman and would rise to be manager of the major, local calico print works, Thornliebank Co. Ltd.. John himself became a Print-Field Chemist and it was as such that he went to Brazil, probably arriving in 1903 at the age of thirty-five and clearly having been a player back in the old country. Perhaps he had been part of the Thornliebank team, the club formed in 1875, playing at a reasonable level until dissolution in 1908. Certainly it played for part of existence at Summerlea Park, the Starks living in Summerlea House in the 1890s. 

John Stark would lead the Bangu team for two seasons, probably returning to Scotland on leave in 1907 and certainly doing so in 1911, when he is recorded as single and staying, living "on private means", with his now widowed father in Thornliebank. But after that at the age of forty-three he seems simply to disappear from Britain, Brazil and elsewhere alike.

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