Robert Smith (footballer, born 1848)

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Robert Smith
Robert Smith b1843.jpg
Personal information
Full name Robert Smith
Date of birth (1848-05-01)1 May 1848
Place of birth Fordyce, Banffshire, Scotland
Playing position Forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1867–18?? Queen's Park
South Norwood
National team
1870–1871 Scotland (Unofficial) 3 (0)
1872–1873 Scotland 2 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Robert Smith (born 1 May 1848[1] in Fordyce;[2] date of death unknown) was a Scottish footballer who played for Scotland against England in the first official international matches in 1872 and 1873, as well as three appearances in the earlier unofficial matches. He was a member of the Queen's Park and South Norwood clubs, and was prominent in the early history of Queens Park.

Football career[edit]

Smith was one of the founder members of the Queen's Park club, based in Glasgow. At the inaugural meeting of the club, held on 9 July 1867, he was listed as the club's first captain and treasurer.[3]

In his "Scottish Football Reminiscences and Sketches" written in 1890, David Bone describes Smith thus:

not by any means an impulsive player, but took in the situation quietly; and while no man ever worked harder in the field, or did more for a club, he was not what could be called a brilliant forward. (He) did well in the (1872) international, and considerably helped the eleven to make a drawn battle of it.[4]

By November 1870, Smith had moved to London and, although he retained his membership of Queen's Park, was also a member of South Norwood, for whom he played in the FA Cup.[2] A Scottish XI had played an English XI in the first (unofficial) international match in March, which ended in a 1–1 draw.[5] After criticism that the first match featured only London-based Scotsmen, the organiser, C. W. Alcock, had written to Scottish newspapers in an effort to attract players from north of the border.[6] As one of the few active football clubs in Scotland at this time, Queen's Park decided to send a representative but were put off by the cost of sending a player to London; as a result, Smith was nominated to represent the club.[6]

The match ended in a 1–0 victory for the English, with the only goal coming from R. S. F. Walker.[7][8] Despite further criticism in Scotland of the lack of players from outside London, further matches were arranged twice a season; Smith retained his place for the matches played on 25 February 1871[9][10] and 18 November 1871,[11] being listed as captain in the November 1871 match.[12] Smith, along with his younger brother James, was named amongst 16 selected players in the publicity for the match played on 24 February 1872, but neither actually played.[13]

In November 1872, the first officially recognised football international was arranged between Scotland and England; unlike the earlier representative matches, all of which had been played at the Kennington Oval in London, this match was played at West of Scotland Cricket Club's ground at Hamilton Crescent in Partick, Glasgow. The match was organised by the Queen's Park club (the Scottish Football Association was not founded until the following year), who decided that only Queen's Park members should be selected.[14] Smith started the match as one of six forwards,[15] but at some point in the match, probably at half-time, he switched positions with Robert Gardner, and played the remainder of the match in goal.[16][17]

Smith's brother, James, played in the match on 30 November 1872 at half-back; thus, he and Robert were the first pair of brothers to play together at international level.[16] Scotland played a 2–2–6 formation (with two backs and two-half-backs) while England favoured a more attacking 1–1–8 formation with only two defenders;[18] despite this, the match ended in a 0–0 draw.[19]

The re-match was arranged to be played at the Kennington Oval on 8 March 1873. Although Queen's Park had made a substantial profit made on the first match, Scotland were only able to afford to send seven players to London. These players were supplemented by Smith and three other London-based Scotsmen: John Edward Blackburn and Henry Renny-Tailyour, both with the Royal Engineers, and Arthur Kinnaird.[20] This time England lined up in a similar 2–2–6 to the Scots. England took a 2–0 lead before the Scots drew level on 70 minutes; England scored twice more late on to make the final score 4–2.[20][21][22]

Life after football[edit]

In about 1875, Smith emigrated to Green River, Wyoming Territory where he was in business as a merchant. He returned to Scotland to marry Georgina Greig Kidd (born 1853) in Glasgow on 22 July 1879.[23] Little is known about Smith's later life although he is reported to have died before 1920.[2]


A.^ The match between Scotland and England on 30 November 1872 was the first officially recognised international football match.[24] Apart from James and Robert Smith, none of the other players were brothers. Thus they were the first pair of brothers to play international football.


  1. ^ "Scotland squad for the match against England November 1872". Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Mitchell, Andy. "Robert and James Smith, 1872 first international". Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  3. ^ Robinson, Richard (1920). "Chapter XV. — Recruiting". History of the Queen's Park Football Club 1867–1917. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  4. ^ Bone, David Drummond (1890). "Famous Association Players—Past and Present". Scottish Football Reminiscences and Sketches. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "England 1 Scotland 1". 5 March 1870. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Mitchell, Andy (2011). Arthur Kinnaird: First Lord of Football. Andy Mitchell. pp. 49–50. ISBN 1-4636-2111-6. 
  7. ^ "England 1 Scotland 0". 19 November 1870. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "England 1 Scotland 0 (match report)". 19 November 1870. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "England 1 Scotland 1". 25 February 1871. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "England 1 Scotland 1 (match report)". 25 February 1871. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "England 1 Scotland 1". 18 November 1871. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  12. ^ "England 1 Scotland 1 (match report)". 18 November 1871. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  13. ^ Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, Saturday 17 February 1872
  14. ^ Mitchell, Andy (2011). Arthur Kinnaird: First Lord of Football. Andy Mitchell. p. 58. ISBN 1-4636-2111-6. 
  15. ^ "Scotland 0 England 0 (Match report)". 30 November 1872. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  16. ^ a b "Keeping it in the Family". Getting Personal. Goalkeepers are different. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  17. ^ "Scotland 0 England 0". England Match No. 1. 30 November 1872. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  18. ^ "Scotland v England 1872". Interesting and curious facts about full internationals and national players (1872–1900). IFFHS. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  19. ^ "Scotland – England 0–0". Scotland – International Matches 1872–1880. RSSSF. 30 November 1872. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  20. ^ a b Mitchell, Andy. "England v Scotland, 8 March 1873". Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  21. ^ "England 4 Scotland 2 (match report)". 8 March 1873. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  22. ^ "England 4 Scotland 2". England Match No. 2. 8 March 1873. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  23. ^ Mitchell, Andy. "Robert and Georgina Smith, Green River Wyoming c.1880". Retrieved 5 October 2011. 
  24. ^ Mitchell, Paul (November 2005). "The first international football match". A Sporting Nation. BBC. Retrieved 7 October 2011.