The Beautiful Game

And thus, an obsession was born. On November 30, 1872, the first official international football match was played between Scotland and England at Hamilton Crescent in Partick, Scotland. It was watched by 4,000 spectators and ended in a 0-0 draw.

This wasn’t the first time England and Scotland played each other: their first match was in London in 1870 and started a series of five matches that ran up until February 1872. The Scottish players in these early contests were nearly all from the London area; only one player, Robert Smith of Glasgow, actually came from Scotland for the match. This lack of home-grown players led to resentment in Scotland, and Football Association secretary Charles Alcock proposed a match between England and a Scottish team that was actually Scottish, to take place in the north of England. In February 1872, Queen’s Park, Scotland’s leading club, agreed to play. The match was scheduled for St. Andrew’s Day.

The entire Scottish team was selected from Queen’s Park, with Robert W. Gardner as captain. Alcock put together the English team from nine different clubs. Although the game was delayed by 20 minutes due to fog, that didn’t deter the thousands of spectators who all paid a shilling to watch the match. It seemed that the advantage might lay with the Scottish players, because they were at least familiar with each others’ playing styles, but the English fought back in the second half. There was no winner, but by the end of the match it was clear that international football was here to stay.

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