A TRULY historic entry today here on OTFD as we look at the beginning of the longest-standing football rivalry in the world.
As leaders in the development of the modern game it also fell to England and Scotland to invent international football which they did on this day in 1872 when the two teams took each other on in the very first international football match. Ever. In the world.
The Scots had home advantage as the match was played at Hamilton Crescent cricket ground. Ged O’Brien, the former director of the Scottish Football Association’s football museum told the Guardian in 1999: “The interest in that first ever game was massive. Everyone desperately wanted to see what Scotland could do against England. Even though the crowd was fairly small -4,000 – the ramifications of that day are with us even now. It was the game that changed the world.”
Tactics were certainly a tad different in those days with Scotland playing a 2-2-6 formation and England lining up with an eight-man forward line. “The Scots played a revolutionary brand of football, a pass and run game which was called combination football,” says O’Brien.
“England’s tactics were much more rudimentary – whoever had the ball just dribbled as far as he could until he was tackled. The English were amazed and spread the word. From then on, every club in England had to have a Scottish ‘professor’ in the team to show his team-mates how to play combination football.”
Despite the Scots supposed tactical advantage they could not break down the English and the game ended in a 0-0 draw, although the home crowd were angry after they were denied a goal by a refereeing decision. A newspaper reported it thus: “The home side’s Leckie drove the ball towards the goal. The crowd cheered enthusiastically under the impression that a point had been gained for Scotland. But the umpire ruled no goal because the ball had gone over the tape instead of under.”
No doubt the Tartan Army were sick about the decision but little did they know it was merely the opening salvo in a form of football that, by its very nature means only one team can win anything and only once every two years, meaning most fans spend their life witnessing perpetual disappointment, not least those of Scotland and England.
Given that the first film camera was not invented for sixteen years after the match (yes, we’ve checked) there is no footage of that historic match, but have a look below for some great VT of England taking on Scotland at Wembley in 1944, which was our current Queen’s first ever international.
Have a look here at what else happened on this football day, and unlike Woolworth’s we’ll still be around tomorrow so don’t forget to check it one time.