1872 Scotland vs England football match

Last updated

First international
association football match
Hamilton Crescent in Partick
hosted the match
EventInternational friendly
Date30 November 1872
Venue Hamilton Crescent, Partick
Referee William Keay (Scotland)

The 1872 match between Scotland and England was the first ever association football official international match to be played. It was contested by the national teams of Scotland and England. The match took place on 30 November 1872 at West of Scotland Cricket Club's ground at Hamilton Crescent in Partick, Scotland. The match finished in a 0–0 draw and was watched by 4,000 spectators. [1]

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

International “A” Match is a match for which both Members field their first Representative Team in association football.

Scotland national football team Mens association football team representing Scotland

The Scotland national football team represents Scotland in international football and is controlled by the Scottish Football Association. It competes in the three major professional tournaments, the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Nations League and the UEFA European Championship. Scotland, as a country of the United Kingdom, is not a member of the International Olympic Committee and therefore the national team does not compete in the Olympic Games. The majority of Scotland's home matches are played at the national stadium, Hampden Park.



Following public challenges issued in Glasgow and Edinburgh newspapers by The Football Association (FA) secretary Charles Alcock, the first encounter of five matches between teams representing England and Scotland played in London took place on 5 March 1870 at The Oval, resulting in a 1–1 draw. [1] Scotland did not record a win in all five matches. The second match was played on 19 November 1870, England 1–0 Scotland; 25 February 1871, England 1–1 Scotland; 18 November 1871, England 2–1 Scotland; 24 February 1872 England 1–0 Scotland. [2] All players selected for the Scottish side in these early "internationals" were mainly from the London area, although Scottish players were invited from Scotland. The only player affiliated to a Scottish club was Robert Smith of Queen's Park FC, Glasgow, who played in the November 1870 match and both of the 1871 games. Robert Smith and James Smith (both of the Queen's Park Club) were both listed publicly for the February 1872 game, but neither played in the actual match. [3]

Glasgow City and council area in Scotland

Glasgow is the most populous city in Scotland, and the third most populous city in the United Kingdom, as of the 2017 estimated city population of 621,020. Historically part of Lanarkshire, the city now forms the Glasgow City council area, one of the 32 council areas of Scotland; the local authority is Glasgow City Council. Glasgow is situated on the River Clyde in the country's West Central Lowlands. Inhabitants of the city are referred to as "Glaswegians" or "Weegies". It is the fourth most visited city in the UK. Glasgow is also known for the Glasgow patter, a distinct dialect of the Scots language that is noted for being difficult to understand by those from outside the city.

Edinburgh Capital city in Scotland

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian, it is located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore.

The Football Association governing body of association football in England

The Football Association (FA) is the governing body of association football in England, the Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game in its territory.

Robert Smith Robert Smith b1843.jpg
Robert Smith

After the 1870 matches there was resentment in Scotland that their team did not contain more home grown players. Alcock himself was categorical about where he felt responsibility for this fact lay, writing in the Scotsman newspaper:

"I must join issue with your correspondent in some instances. First, I assert that of whatever the Scotch eleven may have been composed the right to play was open to every Scotchman [Alcock's italics] whether his lines were cast North or South of the Tweed and that if in the face of the invitations publicly given through the columns of leading journals of Scotland the representative eleven consisted chiefly of Anglo-Scotians ... the fault lies on the heads of the players of the north, not on the management who sought the services of all alike impartially. To call the team London Scotchmen contributes nothing. The match was, as announced, to all intents and purposes between England and Scotland". [4]

Alcock then proceeded to offer another challenge with a Scottish team drawn from Scotland and proposed the north of England as a venue. Alcock appeared to be particularly concerned about the number of players in Scottish football teams at the time, adding: "More than eleven we do not care to play as it is with greater numbers it is our opinion the game becomes less scientific and more a trial of charging and brute force... Charles W Alcock, Hon Sec of Football Association and Captain of English Eleven". [4] One reason for the absence of a response to Alcock's challenge may have been different football codes being followed in Scotland at the time. A written reply to Alcock's letter above states: "Mr Alcock's challenge to meet a Scotch eleven on the borders sounds very well and is doubtless well meant. But it may not be generally well known that Mr Alcock is a very leading supporter of what is called the "association game"... devotees of the "association" rules will find no foemen worthy of their steel in Scotland". [5] Despite this the FA were hoping to play in Scotland as early as February 1872. [6]

In 1872, Queen's Park, as Scotland's leading club, took up Alcock's challenge, despite the fact there was as yet no Scottish Football Association to sanction it as thus. In the FA's minutes of 3 October 1872 it was noted "In order to further the interests of the Association in Scotland, it was decided that during the current season, a team should be sent to Glasgow to play a match v Scotland".

1872–73 in Scottish football

Season 1872–73 was the first in Scottish football in which the national team participated in officially recognised matches. There were as yet no organised domestic competitions.

Queens Park F.C. association football club

Queen's Park Football Club is a Scottish football club based in Glasgow. The club is currently the only fully amateur club in the Scottish Professional Football League; its amateur status is reflected by its Latin motto, 'Ludere Causa Ludendi' – 'To Play for the Sake of Playing'.

Scottish Football Association governing body of association football in Scotland

The Scottish Football Association, is the governing body of football in Scotland and has the ultimate responsibility for the control and development of football in Scotland. Members of the SFA include clubs in Scotland, affiliated national associations as well as local associations. It was formed in 1873, making it the second oldest national football association in the world. It is not to be confused with the "Scottish Football Union", which is the name that the SRU was known by until the 1920s.

The match was arranged for 30 November (St Andrew's Day), and the West of Scotland Cricket Club's ground at Hamilton Crescent in Partick was selected as the venue.

The West of Scotland Cricket Club is a cricket club based in Glasgow, Scotland. The club's home ground is Hamilton Crescent, located in the Partick area of Glasgow's West End.

Hamilton Crescent cricket ground

Hamilton Crescent is a cricket ground located in the Partick area of Glasgow, Scotland. It is the home of the West of Scotland Cricket Club.

Partick area of Glasgow, Scotland

Partick is an area of Glasgow on the north bank of the River Clyde, just across from Govan. To the west lies Whiteinch and to the east, Finneston, and to the North Hillhead and other areas which make up the West End of Glasgow. Partick was a Police burgh from 1852 until 1912 when it was incorporated into the city. Partick is the area of the city most connected with the Highlands, and several Gaelic agencies, such as the Gaelic Books Council are based in the area. Some ATMs in the area display Gaelic.

The match

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1872 engl v scotland-4.jpg
Illustrations of the first international at Hamilton Crescent, by William Ralston

All eleven Scottish players were selected from Queen's Park, the leading Scottish club at this time. [1] Scotland had hoped to obtain the services of Arthur Kinnaird of The Wanderers and Henry Renny-Tailyour of Royal Engineers but both were unavailable. [1] The teams for this match were gathered together "with some difficulty, each side losing some of their best men almost at the last moment." [7] The Scottish side was selected by goalkeeper and captain Robert Gardner. [1] The English side was selected by Charles Alcock and contained players from nine clubs; Alcock himself was unable to play due to injury. [1] The match, initially scheduled for 2pm, [1] was delayed for 20 minutes. The 4,000 spectators paid an entry fee of a shilling, the same amount charged at the 1872 FA Cup Final. [1]

The Scots wore dark blue shirts. This match is, however, not the origin of the blue Scotland shirt, as contemporary reports of the 5 February 1872 rugby international at the Oval clearly show that "the Scotch were easily distinguishable by their uniform of blue jerseys.... the jerseys having the thistle embroidered." [8] The thistle had been worn previously in the 1871 rugby international. [9] The English wore white shirts. The English wore caps, while the Scots wore red cowls.

The match itself illustrated the advantage gained by the Queen's Park players "through knowing each others' play [10] "as all came from the same club. Contemporary match reports clearly show dribbling play by both the English and the Scottish sides, for example: "The Scotch now came away with a great rush, Leckie and others dribbling the ball so smartly that the English lines were closely besieged and the ball was soon behind", [10] "Weir now had a splendid run for Scotland into the heart of his opponents' territory [10] " and "Kerr.. closed the match by the most brilliant run of the day, dribbling the ball past the whole field." [7] Although the Scottish team are acknowledged to have worked better together during the first half, the contemporary account in the Scotsman newspaper acknowledges that in the second half England played similarly: "During the first half of the game the English team did not work so well together, but in the second half they left nothing to be desired in this respect. [10] " There is no specific description of a passing manoeuvre in the lengthy contemporary match reports, although two weeks' later The Graphic reported "[Scotland] seem to be adepts at passing the ball". [7] There is no evidence in the article that the author attended the match, as the reader is clearly pointed to match descriptions in "sporting journals". It is also of note that the 5 March 1872 match between Wanderers and Queen's Park contains no evidence of ball passing. [11]

On a pitch that was heavy due to the continuous rain over the previous three days, the smaller and lighter Scottish side pushed their English counterparts hard. The Scots had a goal disallowed in the first half after the umpires decided that the ball had cleared the tape. [12] The latter part of the match saw the Scots defence under pressure by the heavier English forwards. The Scots played two full backs, two half backs and six forwards. The English played only one full back, one half back and eight forwards. Since three defenders were required for a ball played to be onside, the English system was virtually a ready-made offside trap. Scotland would come closest to winning the match when, in the closing stages, a Robert Leckie shot landed on top of the tape which was used to represent the crossbar. [1] At some point in the game, the England goalkeeper, Robert Barker, decided to join the action outfield when he switched places with William Maynard.

Match details

Scotland  Flag of Scotland.svg0–0Flag of England.svg  England
Hamilton Crescent, Partick
Attendance: 4,000
Referee: William Keay (Scotland)
Kit left arm.svg
Kit body.svg
Kit right arm.svg
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks hoops white2.png
Kit socks long.svg
Kit left arm.svg
Kit body.svg
Kit right arm.svg
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks long.svg
GK Robert Gardner (c)
BK William Ker
BK Joseph Taylor
HB James J. Thomson
HB James Smith
FW Robert Smith
FW Robert Leckie
FW Alex Rhind
FW Billy MacKinnon
FW Jerry Weir
FW David Wotherspoon
Players' clubs:
All of Queen's Park
GK Robert Barker
BK Ernest Greenhalgh
HB Reginald de Courtenay Welch
FW Frederick Chappell
FW William Maynard
FW John Brockbank
FW Charles Clegg
FW Arnold Kirke Smith
FW Cuthbert Ottaway (c)
FW Charles Chenery
FW Charles Morice
Players' clubs:
Nine clubs [note 1]


See also


    Robert Barker (Hertfordshire Rangers)
    Ernest Greenhalgh (Notts County)
    Reginald de Courtenay Welch (Harrow Chequers)
    Frederick Chappell (Oxford University)
    William Maynard (1st Surrey Rifles)
    John Brockbank (Cambridge University)
    Charles Clegg (Sheffield Wednesday)
    Arnold Kirke Smith (Oxford University)
    Cuthbert Ottaway (Oxford University)
    Charles Chenery (Crystal Palace)
    Charles Morice (Barnes)


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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Paul Mitchell. "The first international football match". bbc.co.uk . Retrieved 23 September 2007.
  2. Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, 24 February 1872.
  3. Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, Saturday 17 February 1872.
  4. 1 2 Charles W Alcock, The Scotsman newspaper, 28 November 1870, page 7.
  5. The Scotsman newspaper, 1 December 1870, page 12.
  6. Glasgow Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), Tuesday, 13 February 1872; Issue 10022.
  7. 1 2 3 The Graphic (London, England), Saturday, 14 December 1872; Issue 159.
  8. Daily News (London, England), Tuesday, 6 February 1872; Issue 8042.
  9. Glasgow Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), Tuesday, 28 March 1871; Issue 9746.
  10. 1 2 3 4 The Scotsman – Monday, 2 December 1872, page 6.
  11. Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle (London, England), Saturday, 9 March 1872; Issue 2,697.
  12. Tape was used before crossbars were introduced in Scotland, although crossbars were being used under the Sheffield Rules at this time. See: The term "crossbar" used by Sheffield as early as March 1872: Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle (London, England), Saturday, 9 March 1872; Issue 2,697.