The First Men's International
Officially recognised by FIFA as the first international football match ever played, held on St Andrews Day 1872. This was the match that sparked international football.
The Scottish FA was four months away from creation – but that didn’t stop a Scotland team from being formed to face the English north of the border.
Disgruntled at previous attempts to stage an international match between Scotland and England with Scotland sides being comprised of players hailing mostly from the London area, Queens Park FC managed to pull together a team of players to rise to the occasion.
It is estimated between 2,500 – 4,000 spectators turned out to watch the game at the West of Scotland Cricket Club ground, paying one shilling each to be part of such a momentous day in the history of football, and indeed the world.
As the most successful team in Scottish football, most players forming the hallowed squad came from Queens Park, with a few other members hailing from Granville and South Norwood. The England side had been pulled from 9 different clubs, including Sheffield Wednesday, Cambridge University, Crystal Palace, and Notts County.
The Scotland side found fortune in having mostly come from Queens Park – the team was established, gelled, and they knew the mechanics of one another’s style of play.
Two full backs, two half backs, and six forwards made up the Scotland formation, whereas the England side included one full back, one half back, and eight forwards.
The game was tight, with Scotland putting pressure onto the visitors on a pitch suffering from a deluge of rain over the previous three days. Robert Leckie came closest to scoring for Scotland, with a shot hitting the tape that was used to mark out the goals.
The second half was more of a challenge for Scotland, coming under pressure from the visitors, but the final whistle saw the game end goalless.
Despite the lack of goals, spectators were so impressed with the style of play on show. The players received a resounding acclamation and cheers from those lucky enough to be there on this moment in history - with the applause ringing out until the very last player had disappeared from sight.
The game was a huge success, and the quality of football on display received high praise across the media of the time. The Aberdeen Press and Journal referred to it as “the best game ever seen in Scotland”.
115 official men's matches have now been played between Scotland and England – with the last meeting also ending in a draw at the UEFA European Championship 2021. The next chapter in this rivalry will be written in 2023, as Scotland host England in a special 150th Anniversary Heritage Match to mark the historic first meeting between the two sides.