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16 October 2014

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The first international football match

Scotland v England in 1903


The atmosphere worked its way onto the pitch and the game was conducted in a friendly manner (the introduction of shin pads to the game was still two years away) and there were few contentious decisions for the Scottish referee to make.

On a pitch that was heavy due to the rain that had watered Glasgow over the previous three days, the smaller and lighter Scottish side pushed their English counterparts hard. The advantage that the Scots had with their team being drawn from Queen's Park was negated by the way that the English team came together, dispelling fears that their unfamiliarity of playing alongside each other would be an issue.

The crowd, whilst witnessing the first official meeting between the countries, were denied the pleasure of the first goal. That would come the following year at the Oval when England enjoyed a 4-2 victory over the travelling Scots. The next time that Scotland and England would meet without generating a goal was 1970 at Hampden Park.

The Scottish captain, Bob Gardner, who would play a further four times against England and lose only once, had been responsible for team selection. The future Scottish Football Association president had that year made the switch from forward to goalkeeper. He kept goal for his country for the whole match unlike his English counterpart, Robert Barker, who decided to join the action outfield when he switched with William Maynard.

Scotland face England in 1905


In an age when playing with six or seven forward players was normal, the team selection of Bob Gardner almost paid off as Scotland came closest to victory. In the final stages of the match Robert Leckie sent in a shot that landed on top of the tape that was strung between the two posts to represent the crossbar. It was as near as either side would come and the match yielded no goals but it was the start of a rivalry that continues to generate passion when the countries meet.

Scotland: Bob Gardner, William Ker, Joseph Taylor, James Thompson, James Smith, Robert Smith, Robert Leckie, Alexander Rhind, William Muir MacKinnon, Jamie Weir, David Wotherspoon (all Queen's Park)

England: Robert Barker (Hertfordshire Rangers), Ernest Greenhalgh (Notts County), Reginald Welch (Wanderers), Frederick Chappell (Oxford University), William John Maynard (1st Surrey Rifles), John Brockbank (Cambridge University), Charles Clegg (Sheffield Wednesday), Arnold Kirke Smith (Oxford University), Cuthbert Ottaway (Oxford University/Old Etonians), Charles John Chenery (Crystal Palace), Charles John Morice (Barnes)

Written by: Paul Mitchell

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