England 4-2 Scotland, 8 March 1873
Friendly, Kennington Oval Cricket Ground, London
Scorers: Kenyon-Slaney (2), Bonsor, Chenery (England), Renny-Tailyour, Gibb (Scotland)

This was the second UFWC title match, and the first to produce a winner. The perious match had seen Scotland and England draw 0-0, and this time Scotland travelled to London to face a new-look England side.

A series of trials had apparently unearthed some hot new talent, and only three English players survived from the first match. Scotland also made changes, bringing in star league players Lord Arthur Kinnaird of FA Cup holders Wanderers, and Colonel Henry Waugh Renny-Tailyour of Royal Engineers (also a Scottish rugby international and England cricketer).

Both sides had spent three months in preparation, and expectations were high. The match was played on a glorious day in front of a boisterous crowd of 3-4,000 spectators, including many travelling founder members of the Tartan Army.

England grabbed the opening goal in the first minute of the match, when Captain William Kenyon-Slaney, an India-born Army Officer, scored from an Alexander Bonsor cross. Kenyon-Slaney was the first international and UFWC goalscorer – and he later became the first footballer-turned-MP.

Under football’s early rules the sides changed ends after this and each subsequent goal – and there was no half-time break.

England doubled their lead after a slip by Scottish goalkeeper and captain Robert Gardner allowed Bonsor to score. But Scotland hit back. First a mazy dribble from Kinnaird set up Renny-Tailyour, then William Gibb bundled in an equaliser.

But the Scottish team were tiring, and England took advantage. Kenyon-Slaney grabbed his second goal to restore England’s lead, and Charles Chenery made it 4-2 with five minutes left to play. There was still time for the excited crowd to spill onto the pitch, but there were no more goals.

‘Thus ended a match so pleasant and free from disputes that there was really no appeal to the umpires throughout,’ reflected The Scotsman.

English skipper and goalkeeper Alexander Morton, in his 40s on his international debut, would have been the first man ever to get his hands on the UFWC trophy, had such a trophy ever existed. Having beaten the only other international team in existence, the English could claim to be the best team in the world – the Unofficial Football World Champions. And the entertaining nature of the game gave the new-fangled distraction of international football a huge boost.

‘If any proof were necessary,’ wrote Bell’s Life, ‘there was sufficient evidence on this occasion to convince the most sceptical that football, if only aided by fine weather, is a game that could take its place among the leading pastimes of the day.’ Goodbye shuffleboard, hello football.

About Paul Brown

Paul is a freelance journalist and author. He created the UFWC in 2003, and subsequently wrote the Unofficial Football World Champions book. He can be found on Twitter @paulbrownUK.