Scotland v England 1872

There so many crucial games in the history of modern world football, but this one stands the test of time. It was the game where Scotland demonstrated a way of playing that would be copied by every country on earth.

It was played between a team picked by the Queen’s Park FC of Glasgow and a team picked by a football association founded in London by a small group of ex-public school boys. That this Association eventually became national is another story.

There is only one image from the time and no photographs. The Daily Graphic got their Dumbarton born artist to depict nine scenes which might give their readers and idea of how the game was played.

As the England team was primarily made up of Greater London ex-Public schoolboys, they played a dribbling game where the individual was crucial. Passing was not only not attempted, it was seen as a form of cowardice by these guys.

The Scotland team was made up of men who were members of the Queen’s Park club of Glasgow. Since their foundation in 1867, they had been perfecting their talents in dribbling, passing and running. This was and always had been the Scottish way.

Imagine the extraordinary surprise when the game kicked off and an English player went to tackle a Scot: only for the Scot to pass the ball, in a deliberate fashion. The team then moved down the pitch in a scientific manner.

This is no surprise. In goal for the first half was Robert Gardner. It was he who had given out cards before the Hamilton Gymnasium game in 1869. Cards on which players’ positions were. This was the QPFC way. Plan. Practice. Prepare.

The game finished 0-0. The score is irrelevant. The English players will have returned to their clubs with stories of the scientific game the Scots had played. Over the coming 30 years, everyone would learn to play the way of the Scotch Professor.

So What? Why has this game been misrepresented by almost every football history, ever written?

I’ll tell you why. Because the facts of the game cannot be analysed to show that England invented football.

Why did Charles Alcock (Liar Extraordinaire) suggest a game, to the Scottish newspapers.

Alcock had a lot of problems. He ran an Association (founded 1863) which had clubs playing all sorts of different rules. The biggest danger came from Sheffield, where all the oldest teams in England played. They already had rules and a different code to the London Rules.

In the 1872 he was obliged to pick players from the Midlands and the Universities. They all played different versions of football Rules. The only Sheffield Rules man: Charles Clegg was ignored by the upper class chaps in the rest of the team who refused to talk to him. He was merely middle class.

All this is ignored in the general histories. What is reported is the letter Alcock wrote, challenging Scotland to a game. He used the following phrase:

‘In Scotland, once essentially the land of football, there should still be a spark left of the old fire...’

Very clever. Scotland used to play football but they don’t anymore. This is why he is the liar extraordinaire. He must have known that Scotland had been playing regular football for hundreds of years. Not Mob Football - which is not football. Proper football.

This set the narrative for the next 150 years. Lie upon lie to show how England apparently invented a Scottish Game.
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Giving History a Sporting Chance