30th November 1872

Scotland hosts the world’s first ever international football match

A crowd of 4000 watched Scotland play England in the first official international association football match.

“A match at football between eleven English players and the same number of Scotch was played on the West of Scotland Cricket Ground at Partick on Saturday afternoon, in presence of a large number of spectators,” reported the Dundee People’s Journal of 7 December 1872. “At the close, time was called, with no goal to either side. The Englishmen were on the average twelve stones, and the Scotch ten stones. It was allowed to be the best game ever seen in Scotland.”

Rugby and football confused

Four days earlier – on 3 December – the Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette’s report had opened with the weight of the teams, noting that “the Englishmen, as usual on these occasions, turned out the heavier team, their average weight being over 11 stones, while the Scotchmen scarcely averaged 10.”

It seems likely that this interest in the relative weights of the teams was due to readers being more familiar with rugby, in which weight can be an advantage, than football.

The Gazette continued, “as many of our readers must be ignorant of what the Association game is, we may explain that in place of the number of technicalities that make the Rugby game so confusing to those not well up in it, the object of the Association is merely to get their ball between the post of their opponents’ goal, and under the tape, not over, as in the Rugby game. The hands or arms are not to be used on any pretence, except by the goal-keeper to defend his goal.” It allowed that “although the rules are much simpler than those of Rugby there is still as much room for skill…”

The goal that wasn’t a goal

At one point, a Scottish player launched the ball at the English goal, and it glanced off the crossbar, being only narrowly saved by the English goalkeeper, who knocked it high so that it passed above the goal.

“The spectators cheered enthusiastically, under the impression that a point had been scored for Scotland,” reported the Glasgow Herald of 2 December 1872, “but the umpires ruled that no goal had been obtained, as the ball had gone over instead of under the tape.”



Other events that occured in November

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