The 1979-80 British Home Championship saw only the second undisputed victory for Northern Ireland in the British Home Nations international football tournament in 96 years of existence. It was also the first time since 1970 that Scotland agreed to travel to Northern Ireland, having refused to play there since 1972. The tournament also finally marked the end of a decade of extremely poor international football results for all the Home Nations. Apart from disappointing Scottish performances in the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cups, no British side had been represented at a major football tournament since England were knocked out by Germany at the 1970 FIFA World Cup. In 1980, England finally qualified for the 1980 UEFA European Championship and although their performance was unspectacular it did lay the groundwork for the appearance of three of the Home Nations at the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain. The Home Championships thus allowed spectators and coaches an impression of the reorganised British sides and their capabilities in competitive football.
The opening matches provided two great shocks for the long-established favourites of England and Scotland, with a narrow Northern Irish home victory over the Scots and a Welsh 4–1 thrashing of the English, putting the underdogs in pole position going into their remaining rounds. Scotland recovered slightly with a narrow victory over the Welsh, but England could only manage a draw with the Northern Irish, who were in the best position to claim undisputed first place for 66 years. In the final matches, England salvaged pride and points with a win over the Scots taking them to second place, but the Northern Irish claimed the trophy by defeating Wales in Cardiff, celebrating their centenary with a rare triumph.