England v Scotland representative football matches (1870–1872)

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Between 1870 and 1872, the Football Association (FA) organised five representative association football matches between teams representing England and Scotland, all held in London.[1] The first of these matches was held at The Oval on 5 March 1870,[2] and the fifth was on 21 February 1872.[3] The matches, which were organised by Charles W. Alcock, are the precursors to modern international football and were referred to as internationals at the time.[4] They are not recognised, however, as full internationals by FIFA as the players competing in the Scotland team were drawn only from London-based Scottish players.[5] They were followed by the 1872 match in Glasgow between Scotland and England which is recognised as the first international match.

The first match[edit]

Report of the first match on 5 March 1870, preserved in Arthur Kinnaird's cuttings book [6]

The 1870 match was initiated by Charles W. Alcock who placed advertisements in Scottish newspapers, including the following letter in the Glasgow Herald on 3 November 1870 regarding the second of the five fixtures:

FOOTBALL. ENGLAND V SCOTLAND. Sir, will you allow me a few lines in your newspaper to notify to Scotch players that a match under the above title will take place in London on Sat 10th inst., according to the rules of the Football Association. It is the object of the committee to select the best elevens at their disposal in the two countries, and I cannot but think that the appearance of some of the more prominent celebrities of football on the northern side of the Tweed[7] would do much to disseminate a healthy feeling of good fellowship among the contestants and tend to promote a still greater extent the extension of the game...[8]

The first match, then, was organised by the FA[9] and resulted in a 1–1 draw. The match was delayed two weeks from its advertised date due to excessive frost which had made the ground "dangerously unfit for play".[9] Alcock captained the England team whilst Scotland were led by James Kirkpatrick.[10] The match was 0–0 when the teams changed end at half-time – a rule that The Sporting Gazette of Saturday 12 March 1870 described as new – but Scotland took a lead through a goal by Robert Crawford after England had moved their goalkeeper upfield. England fought back to score through Baker to salvage a draw before the end of the game.[9] W. H. Gladstone, an MP and son of the sitting Prime Minister W. E. Gladstone, appeared for Scotland and, according to the Manchester Guardian, "did good service on the part of the Scottish team".[11]

England 1–1 Scotland
Baker 89' (Report) Crawford 75'

Subsequent matches[edit]

The following four matches were held on: 19 November 1870, 25 February 1871, 17 November 1871 and 24 February 1872. All matches were advertised in Scottish newspapers, but the players were drawn from those who played by Football Association rules – still limited at the time and largely consisting of only London-based Scottish players.[3] England were victorious 1–0 in the November 1870 match, 2–1 in the November 1871 match and 1–0 in the February 1872 match; the February 1871 match was drawn 1–1. The only recorded attendance figure known is 650, from the second match.[12] Formation data does not exist from three of the matches, but it is known that in the third[13] and fifth matches[14] both teams lined up with a '1–1–8' formation.


19 November 1870 England  1–0  Scotland London, England
Walker 10' (Summary)
Stadium: The Oval
Attendance: 650
25 February 1871 England  1–1  Scotland London, England
Walker (Summary) Nepean 15' Stadium: The Oval
Attendance: 500+
18 November 1871 England  2–1  Scotland London, England
Walker (Summary) Tailyour Stadium: The Oval
24 February 1872 England  1–0  Scotland London, England
Clegg (Summary) Stadium: The Oval

Player appearances[edit]

The following players appeared in the five matches:

Country Player Club(s) Appearances Goals
England Charles W. Alcock Wanderers and Harrow Pilgrims 5
England Alfred J. Baker N.N. Club and Wanderers 3 1
England Thomas S. Baker Clapham Rovers 1
England Morton Betts West Kent, Harrow Chequers and Wanderers 2
England Alexander Bonsor Wanderers 1
England Edward E. Bowen Wanderers 1
England William C. Butler Barnes Club and Civil Service 2
England Thomas N. Carter Eton College 1
England Charles Chenery Crystal Palace and Wanderers 1
England Charles Clegg Wednesday 1 1
England John Cockerell Brixton Club 2
England William Crake Harrow School, Barnes Club, Harrow Chequers and Wanderers 4
England Evelyn Freeth Civil Service and Wanderers 1
England Thomas Hooman Wanderers 3
England Jarvis Kenrick Clapham Rovers 1
England Edgar Lubbock Old Etonians, West Kent and Wanderers 5
England Alexander Nash Clapham Rovers and Wanderers 1
England Walter Paton Harrow School 1
England Henry J. Preston Eton College 1
England Giulio C. Smith Crusaders and Wanderers 1
England Charles W. Stephenson Westminster School and Wanderers 3
England Albert Thompson Eton College and Wanderers 2
England Alfred H. Thornton Old Harrovians and Wanderers 1
England Walpole Vidal Westminster School, Wanderers and Old Westminsters 5
England Robert S. F. Walker Clapham Rovers and Wanderers 3 4
England Percy Weston Barnes Club 2
England Charles Wollaston Oxford University and Wanderers 1
Scotland William Bailey Civil Service 1
Scotland Charles R. Baillie-Hamilton Civil Service 1
Scotland William A. Baillie-Hamilton Old Harrovians 1
Scotland Galfred Congreve Old Rugbeians 1
Scotland Fitzgerald H. Crawford Harrow Chequers and Wanderers 2
Scotland Robert Crawford Harrow School, Harrow Chequers and Wanderers 4 1
Scotland Edward H.M. Elliot Harrow Chequers and Wanderers 2
Scotland Harold S. Ferguson Royal Artillery 2
Scotland William H. Gladstone Old Etonians and Wanderers 2
Scotland George C. Gordon No Names 1
Scotland Quintin Hogg Wanderers 2
Scotland John F. Inglis Charterhouse School and Wanderers 1
Scotland Gilbert G. Kennedy Wanderers 1
Scotland Arthur Kinnaird Crusaders and Wanderers 3
Scotland James Kirkpatrick Civil Service and Wanderers 4
Scotland William Lindsay Old Wykehamists, Rochester Club and Civil Service 5
Scotland Frederick Maddison Rochester Club and Oxford University 1
Scotland John W. Malcolm London Scottish Rifles 1
Scotland Hugh Mitchell Royal Engineers 2
Scotland Alexander Morten Crystal Palace and Wanderers 1
Scotland Kenneth Muir Mackenzie Old Carthusians 1
Scotland Montague Muir Mackenzie Old Carthusians 1
Scotland Charles Nepean Oxford University and Wanderers 4 1
Scotland Gilbert E. Primrose Civil Service 1
Scotland Henry Primrose Civil Service 1
Scotland Edward V. Ravenshaw Charterhouse School 1
Scotland Henry W. Renny-Tailyour Royal Engineers 1 1
Scotland Arnold Kirke Smith Civil Service and Oxford University 2
Scotland Robert Smith Queen's Park 3
Scotland Henry H. Stewart Wanderers 1
Scotland Charles Thompson Cambridge University and Wanderers 1

Reaction and the creation of international football[edit]

Following the games, there was resentment in Scotland that their team did not contain more home grown players. Alcock himself was categorical about where he felt responsibility for this fact lay, writing in the Scotsman newspaper:

"I must join issue with your correspondent in some instances. First, I assert that of whatever the Scotch eleven may have been composed the right to play was open to every Scotchman [Alcock's italics] whether his lines were cast North or South of the Tweed and that if in the face of the invitations publicly given through the columns of leading journals of Scotland the representative eleven consisted chiefly of Anglo-Scotians ... the fault lies on the heads of the players of the north, not on the management who sought the services of all alike impartially. To call the team London Scotchmen contributes nothing. The match was, as announced, to all intents and purposes between England and Scotland".[15]

Many of the players in Scotland did not play to the FA's rules at the time, inhibiting the possibility of a truly representative match between the two countries. Eventually, the FA decided in its minutes of 3 October 1872 note that:

In order to further the interests of the Association in Scotland, it was decided that during the current season, a team should be sent to Glasgow to play a match v Scotland.

The challenge was eventually taken up by Queen's Park and this match, in 1872 is the earliest international football match recognised by FIFA, though at the time it was considered as a continuation of the previous internationals.[16] In March 1873 the Scottish Football Association was created to support the coordination of football in Scotland, taking on responsibility for selecting Scottish teams, and the Football Association began to take the role as an English only organisation.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "First Elevens: the birth of international football and the men who made it happen". First Elevens: the birth of international football by Andy Mitchell. Andy Mitchell Media. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  2. ^ Mitchell, Paul. "The first international football match". BBC. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  3. ^ a b The Scotsman Newspaper Monday 27 February 1871 page 7
  4. ^ The Scotsman - Monday, 26 February 1872, page 7
  5. ^ "The birth of international football: England v Scotland, 1870". First Lord of Football – the life and times of Arthur, Lord Kinnaird. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  6. ^ England v Scotland in 1870: the origin of international football
  7. ^ Alcock's references to 'the Tweed' are a shorthand for the Anglo-Scottish border, whose eastern portion follows the River Tweed
  8. ^ Glasgow Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), Thursday, 3 November 1870; Issue 9623.
  9. ^ a b c Glasgow Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), Monday, 7 March 1870; Issue 9415
  10. ^ "The birth of international football: England v Scotland, 1870". First Lord of Football - the life and times of Arthur, Lord Kinnaird. lordkinnaird.com. Archived from the original on 3 April 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  11. ^ "England's 20 defining matches". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  12. ^ England 1 Scotland 0 Archived 15 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine Englandfootballonline. Accessed 28 December 2009
  13. ^ England 1 Scotland 1 Saturday, 25 February 1871 Archived 9 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine Englandfootballonline. Accessed 28 December 2009
  14. ^ England 1 Scotland 0 Saturday, 24 February 1872 Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Englandfootballonline. Accessed 28 December 2009
  15. ^ Charles W. Alcock, The Scotsman newspaper, 28 November 1870, page 7.
  16. ^ Glasgow Herald on 13 February 1872
  17. ^ "Brief History of the Scottish Football Association". Scottish Football Association. Archived from the original on 1 July 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2013.

External links[edit]