Dec 16

Scotland vs England 1872

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Scotland 0-0 England

30 November 1872 | Friendly |West of Scotland Cricket Ground, Glasgow |No Scorers

The Unofficial Football World Championships, and the glory that is international football, kicked off in 1872 with this very historic goalless draw – an undeniable anticlimax. Up until this point England had been the only international football side in the world, which made arranging international fixtures slightly problematic.

The English busied themselves by playing games against a ‘London Scottish’ side, but appetite for a real England versus Scotland clash was whetted by Queen’s Park FC’s appearance in the FA Cup semi-finals in 1871. The cash-strapped Scottish club drew 0-0 with England’s Wanderers in the semi, but couldn’t afford to return for a replay. Wanderers were given a bye, and won the FA Cup. But Queen’s Park’s gumption so impressed the English FA that plans were made to send an England team north of the border to play an official Scotland side.

The Scottish 11, selected by the (perhaps slightly impartial) Queen’s Park captain and goalkeeper Robert Gardner, consisted entirely of Queen’s Park players. England captain and selector (and secretary of the English FA) CW Alcock chose an 11 containing players from nine different clubs. Unluckily, Alcock was injured in a league match in the run-up to the game and was forced to replace himself as skipper with Oxford University forward Cuthbert Ottaway. For the fashion conscious:

Scotland wore dark blue shirts with lion crests, white knickerbockers, and red head cowls, while England wore white shirts bearing the three lions crest, white knickerbockers, and blue caps. England, playing with an adventurous 1-2-7 formation, produced an impressive display of attacking football.

But Scotland, playing 2-2-6, defended resolutely. The Bell’s Life in London journal described the game as, ‘a splendid display of football in the really scientific sense of the word, and a most determined effort on the part of the representatives of the two nationalities to overcome each other.’ At the final whistle, despite the lack of goals, both sides were afforded ‘three hearty cheers’.

Almost 4,000 spectators turned up for the game, with the gate receipts for the day totalling a whopping £109. But, despite the enthusiasm of those in attendance, the first ever UFWC title match failed to produce a winner. Captains Gardner and Ottaway both left emptyhanded. What a bally rotten show.

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