Scratch team

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A scratch team is a team, usually in sport, brought together on a temporary basis, composed of players who normally play for different sides. A game played between two scratch teams may be called a scratch match.

The earliest instance of the term "scratch team" recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary[1] is a restaurant guide in 1851 (London at table, by an anonymous author, referring to "'a scratch team' of servants"[2]). The OED also records the term "scratch match" - defined as an impromptu game played by scratch teams - being used in the same year in Rev. James Pycroft's The Cricket Field - one of the earliest books about cricket - "...that is the time that some sure, judicious batsman, whose eminence is little seen amidst the loose hitting of a scratch match, comes calmly and composedly to the wicket and makes a stand;..."[3]

Another early and notable use of the term is from 1874, when The Wanderers, who had just lost an FA Cup match for the first time, were due to play a match against Upton Park.[4] In the words of the contemporary report, "unfortunately the Wanderers failed to put in an appearance. In order, therefore not to disappoint a large number of people who had assembled to witness the play, a scratch team was chosen to represent the missing team."[4] The match was lost 11-0, with each of the opposing team scoring a goal.."[4]

The term is listed in the 1913 Nelson's Encyclopedia, among slang terms.[5]


  1. ^ "scratch, adj.". OED Online. November 2010. Oxford University Press. (accessed February 15, 2011).
  2. ^ London at table; or, How, when, and where to dine and order a dinner. 1851. 
  3. ^ Pycroft, J. (1862). The cricket-field. By J. Pycroft. 
  4. ^ a b c Cavallini, R. (2005). The Wanderers - Five Times F.A. Cup Winners. Dog N Duck. ISBN 9780955049606. 
  5. ^ Colby, F.M.; Sandeman, G. (1913). Nelson's Encyclopaedia: Everybody's Book of Reference ... Thomas Nelson.