Posted: 11/30/2008


       Today is St. Andrews Day , celebrated as the National Day of Scotland, but to soccer historians like myself it is also the anniversary of THE FIRST ever recognized international match in 1872, SCOTLAND v ENGLAND at the West of Scotland cricket ground in Partick, just to the north of Glasgow, across the River Clyde.

      It ended 0-0 with all of the Scottish players members of Queen's Park and so they played in that teams jerseys, navy blue, which the national team still wear, although Queens Park later changed to narrow black and white hoops.  England came up by train , with players from nine different clubs, and wore white jerseys, with caps from their own clubs. Hertfordshire Rifles, Notts County, Harrow Chequers, Oxford University, Cambridge University, Sheffield Wednesday, 1st Surrey Rifles, Crystal Palace and Barnes.

      The England team was chosen by English F.A. (founded 1863) secretary Charles Alcock. Charles Clegg was probably the most famous player, from Sheffield, later to become Chairman and later President of the F.A.   4,000 spectators showed up and paid 1 shilling, the same entry fee for the 1872 F.A. Cup Final. The 2.00pm kick-off was delayed 20 minutes because of fog. The smaller Scots played the passing game, which was difficult in the waterlogged pitch, and England played with only 1 full back, 1 half back and eight forwards, a 'built in' offside trap, since 3 defenders rather than the later 2 were needed to avoid offside.  Scotland came close to scoring, with the ball scrapping the top of the 'tape' which was used prior to the introduction of the cross bar.

      There have been 110 times the teams have met with 45 wins for 'The Auld Enemy' as the Scots refer to England; 41 Scottish wins and 24 draws. In 1967 Scotland won 3-2 at Wembley and the fans invaded and tore down the goalposts. Worse the wear for drink and an inferiority complex, there was increasing violence, though I have seen Scotland many times in the World Cup and their fans have been passionate and well behaved in Argentina, Spain, West Germany, France and Italy. In 1989 the Home International Championship with England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was suspended.

      The two most memorable matches between the two countries that I was personally present at were both English triumphs. I drove up to Scotland with a car full of friends in April 1966 and had to spend the night in a pub in Northumberland due to the snow and ice. The next day we arrived in time at Hampden Park and saw England win 4-3 with goals by Roger Hunt (2), Geoff Hurst and Bobby Charlton. with Willie Johnson (2) and Denis Law scoring for the navy blue. The attendance was 134,000, the largest I have EVER been part of. Two months later England won the World Cup 4-2 after extra time at Wembley against West Germany.

      Thirty years later in 1996 I was at Wembley for England 2 v Scotland 0 at the European Championships. Goals from Alan Shearer and a wonder goal from Paul Gascoigne , while Gary McAllister had a penalty saved by David Seaman. There has been talk of renewing the fixture, but it won't happen soon.