The UFWC tracks an alternative route through football history beginning with the first official international match, played between Scotland and England on 30 November 1872. However, there were also a series of unofficial international matches played between 1870 and 1872. In this exclusive extract from new book The Victorian Football Miscellany we look at those unofficial Victorian football matches:
In January 1870, a notice appeared in the Field magazine inviting players to participate in an association football match ‘between the leading representatives of the Scotch and English sections’. The match was billed as a ‘great International Football Match’, although it has not come to be regarded as such. It was the first of five so-called ‘Alcock Internationals’ – a series of England versus Scotland games organised by FA secretary CW Alcock. The matches aren’t considered official international matches, but they were important stepping stones towards establishing proper England versus Scotland fixtures.
For the first Alcock match, only one member of the Scottish team, Kenneth Muir Mackenzie, was actually born in Scotland, and all of those selected were London-based. So the ‘London Scottish’ side was not regarded as being truly representative of Scotland. In fact, all of the ‘London Scottish’ players had roots that would have qualified them to play for Scotland under modern rules. Nevertheless, Alcock regarded the team as ‘counterfeit’, and made efforts to improve matters for subsequent matches.
He wrote to the Glasgow Herald, appealing for Scottish players to represent their country. ‘In Scotland, once essentially the land of football, there should still be a spark left of the old fire,’ he wrote. The appeal had limited success, however, attracting only one Scottish player, Robert Smith of Queen’s Park, who in any case lived in London.
Defeat for the Scots in the second match brought derision from north of the border. ‘It must not be supposed that the 11 who represented us in their defeat involved our national reputation as athletes,’ wrote a correspondent to the Scotsman. Alcock responded, pointing out that he had invited Scottish players to participate. ‘The fault lies on the heads of the players of the north,’ he wrote, ‘not on the management who sought the services of all alike impartially.’ However, despite further appeals, no Scotland-based players came forward for the subsequent games, and it would be 1872 before an ‘official’ international match was played.
The Alcock Internationals:
1. England 1-1 Scotland, 5 March 1870
Scotland, captained by James Kirkpatrick, took the lead against CW Alcock’s England team courtesy of a ‘lucky long kick’ from Robert Crawford, ‘in the reprehensible absence of England’s goalkeeper’. A crowd of around 500 watched the match at the Kennington Oval, and the goal was met with ‘vociferous applause from the canny Scots, who represented no small portion of the spectators’. However, those canny Scots were to be disappointed as England grabbed a last-minute equaliser courtesy of Alfred Baker, following ‘one of the finest runs that has ever been witnessed’.
2. England 1-0 Scotland, 19 November 1870
This victory for England (‘who appeared more uniformly skilful than their antagonists’) was secured by a single goal, created by Alcock and scored by Robert Walker. The efforts of Queen’s Park’s Robert Smith, who ‘proved most useful from first to last’, were not enough to save Scotland from defeat.
3. England 1-1 Scotland, 25 February 1871
Scotland, now captained by Arthur Kinnaird, took the lead through Charles Nepean (a distant uncle of the actor Hugh Grant). However, as in the first match, England scored a late equaliser, with Robert Walker getting his second goal in two games.
4. England 2-1 Scotland, 18 November 1871
Clapham Rovers captain Walker scored another two goals in this England victory, securing a reputation as the star player of the Alcock Internationals. Royal Engineers’ Henry Renny-Tailyour scored a consolation goal for Scotland.
5. England 1-0 Scotland, 24 February 1872
Sheffield FC’s Charles Clegg became the first non-London player to participate in these games, and he scored England’s winning goal ‘to the immense delight of the English supporters’. However, the match, played in inclement weather, was a disappointment and the ‘unofficial’ internationals ended.
The Victorian Football Miscellany by Paul Brown is a quirky and fascinating collection of trivia, facts and anecdotes from football’s earliest years. Delve into an absorbing world of ox-bladder balls, baggy-kneed knickerbockers and outstanding moustaches, and read remarkable tales of the first ever cup final, the invention of the shinpad, the evolution of dribbling, the first own goal and a seemingly-invincible penalty-taking elephant. Other entries cover the foundation of the Football Association, the development of the Laws of the Game and the origins of football’s most popular clubs. Packed with biographies, profiles and lists, this is an indispensable guide to the colourful and unusual world of 19th century football. You can find more details, extracts and ordering information at the Victorian Football website.