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 referred to as internationals at the time,[4] but are not considered full internationals by FIFA as the players competing in the Scotland team were 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

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 [6] 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..."[7]

The first match, then, was organised by the FA[8] 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".[8] Alcock captained the England team whilst Scotland were led by James Kirkpatrick.[9] 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.[8] 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." [10]

England  1–1  Scotland
Baker Goal 89 (Report) Crawford Goal 75
Alfred H. Thornton
Charles W. Alcock (c)
Edward E. Bowen
Alfred J. Baker
William C. Butler
William P. Crake
Evelyn Freeth
Edgar Lubbock
Alexander Nash
Giulio C. Smith
Walpole Vidal
Team selection:
England Charles W. Alcock
James Kirkpatrick (c)
Robert Crawford
William H. Gladstone MP
George C. Gordon
Charles R. Baillie-Hamilton
William A. Baillie-Hamilton
Arthur F. Kinnaird
William Lindsay
John Wingfield Malcolm MP
Alexander Morten
Kenneth A. Muir Mackenzie
Team selection:
Scotland Arthur Kinnaird

Subsequent matches

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.[11] Formation data does not exist from three of the matches, but it is known that in the third[12] and fifth matches[13] both teams lined up with a '1–1–8' formation.


Player appearances

The following players appeared in the five matches:

Country Player Club(s) Appearances Goals
England Alcock, Charles W.Charles W. Alcock Wanderers and Harrow Pilgrims 5
England Baker, Alfred J.Alfred J. Baker N.N. Club and Wanderers 3 1
England Baker, Thomas S.Thomas S. Baker Clapham Rovers 1
England Betts, MortonMorton Betts West Kent, Harrow Chequers and Wanderers 2
England Bonsor, AlexanderAlexander Bonsor Wanderers 1
England Bowen, Edward E.Edward E. Bowen Wanderers 1
England Butler, William C.William C. Butler Barnes Club and Civil Service 2
England Carter, Thomas N.Thomas N. Carter Eton College 1
England Chenery, CharlesCharles Chenery Crystal Palace and Wanderers 1
England Clegg, CharlesCharles Clegg Wednesday 1 1
England Cockerell, JohnJohn Cockerell Brixton Club 2
England Crake, WilliamWilliam Crake Harrow School, Barnes Club, Harrow Chequers and Wanderers 4
England Freeth, EvelynEvelyn Freeth Civil Service and Wanderers 1
England Hooman, ThomasThomas Hooman Wanderers 3
England Kenrick, JarvisJarvis Kenrick Clapham Rovers 1
England Lubbock, EdgarEdgar Lubbock Old Etonians, West Kent and Wanderers 5
England Nash, AlexanderAlexander Nash Clapham Rovers and Wanderers 1
England Paton, WalterWalter Paton Harrow School 1
England Preston, Henry J.Henry J. Preston Eton College 1
England Smith, Giulio C.Giulio C. Smith Crusaders and Wanderers 1
England Stephenson, Charles W.Charles W. Stephenson Westminster School and Wanderers 3
England Thompson, AlbertAlbert Thompson Eton College and Wanderers 2
England Thornton, Alfred H.Alfred H. Thornton Old Harrovians and Wanderers 1
England Vidal, WalpoleWalpole Vidal Westminster School, Wanderers and Old Westminsters 5
England Walker, Robert S. F.Robert S. F. Walker Clapham Rovers and Wanderers 3 4
England Weston, PercyPercy Weston Barnes Club 2
England Wollaston, CharlesCharles Wollaston Oxford University and Wanderers 1
Scotland Bailey, WilliamWilliam Bailey Civil Service 1
Scotland Baillie-Hamilton, Charles R.Charles R. Baillie-Hamilton Civil Service 1
Scotland Baillie-Hamilton, William A.William A. Baillie-Hamilton Old Harrovians 1
Scotland Congreve, GalfredGalfred Congreve None 1
Scotland Crawford, Fitzgerald H.Fitzgerald H. Crawford Harrow Chequers and Wanderers 2
Scotland Crawford, RobertRobert Crawford Harrow School, Harrow Chequers and Wanderers 4 1
Scotland Elliot, Edward H.M.Edward H.M. Elliot Harrow Chequers and Wanderers 2
Scotland Ferguson, Harold S.Harold S. Ferguson Royal Artillery 2
Scotland Gladstone, William H.William H. Gladstone Old Etonians and Wanderers 2
Scotland Gordon, George C.George C. Gordon Nomads 1
Scotland Hogg, QuintinQuintin Hogg Wanderers 2
Scotland Inglis, John F.John F. Inglis Charterhouse School and Wanderers 1
Scotland Kennedy, Gilbert G.Gilbert G. Kennedy Wanderers 1
Scotland Kinnaird, ArthurArthur Kinnaird Crusaders and Wanderers 3
Scotland Kirkpatrick, JamesJames Kirkpatrick Civil Service and Wanderers 4
Scotland Lindsay, WilliamWilliam Lindsay Old Wykehamists, Rochester Club and Civil Service 5
Scotland Maddison, FrederickFrederick Maddison Rochester Club and Oxford University 1
Scotland Malcolm, John W.John W. Malcolm London Scottish Rifles 1
Scotland Mitchell, HughHugh Mitchell Royal Engineers 2
Scotland Morten, AlexanderAlexander Morten Crystal Palace and Wanderers 1
Scotland Muir Mackenzie, KennethKenneth Muir Mackenzie Old Carthusians 1
Scotland Muir Mackenzie, MontagueMontague Muir Mackenzie Old Carthusians 1
Scotland Nepean, CharlesCharles Nepean Oxford University and Wanderers 4 1
Scotland Primrose, Gilbert E.Gilbert E. Primrose Civil Service 1
Scotland Primrose, HenryHenry Primrose Civil Service 1
Scotland Ravenshaw, Edward V.Edward V. Ravenshaw Charterhouse School 1
Scotland Renny-Tailyour, Henry W.Henry W. Renny-Tailyour Royal Engineers 1 1
Scotland Smith, Arnold KirkeArnold Kirke Smith Civil Service and Oxford University 2
Scotland Smith, RobertRobert Smith Queen's Park 3
Scotland Stewart, Henry H.Henry H. Stewart Wanderers 1
Scotland Thompson, CharlesCharles Thompson Cambridge University and Wanderers 1

Reaction and the creation of international football

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".[14]

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:

The challenge was eventually taken up by Queen's Park and this match, in 1872 is currently the earliest international football match recognised by FIFA as official international, though at the time it was considered as a continuation of the previous internationals.[15]


  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. ^ Mitchell, Andy. "The birth of international football: England v Scotland, 1870". www.lordkinnaird.com (First Lord of Football - the life and times of Arthur, Lord Kinnaird). Archived from the original on 3 April 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  6. ^ Alcock's references to 'the Tweed' are a shorthand for the Anglo-Scottish border, whose eastern portion follows the River Tweed
  7. ^ Glasgow Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), Thursday, 3 November 1870; Issue 9623.
  8. ^ a b c Glasgow Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), Monday, 7 March 1870; Issue 9415
  9. ^ "The birth of international football: England v Scotland, 1870". First Lord of Football - the life and times of Arthur, Lord Kinnaird. www.lordkinnaird.com. Archived from the original on 3 April 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2011. 
  10. ^ "England's 20 defining matches". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  11. ^ England 1 Scotland 0 Archived 15 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Englandfootballonline. Accessed 28 December 2009
  12. ^ England 1 Scotland 1 Saturday, 25 February 1871 Archived 9 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Englandfootballonline. Accessed 28 December 2009
  13. ^ England 1 Scotland 0 Saturday, 24 February 1872 Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine., Englandfootballonline. Accessed 28 December 2009
  14. ^ Charles W. Alcock, The Scotsman newspaper, 28 November 1870, page 7.
  15. ^ Glasgow Herald on 13 February 1872

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