The story of the world’s first international football match – at a cricket pitch in Partick

Glasgow loves its football – but who knew the beautiful game, at international level at least, had a modest start on a quiet cricket ground in Partick?

The year marks the 147th anniversary of the first ever international football match, between Scotland and England.

The game took place on Saturday, November 30, 1872 at the West of Scotland cricket ground, just off Dumbarton Road – although we’re betting it looked a lot different to any modern day equivalent.
Although the sides had played around five times before in and around the London area, this match is recognised by FIFA as the first full international due to the fact that, for the first time, both teams were independently picked by both their respective FA’s.

The Scotland side, wearing dark blue shirts and a hooded cowl, featured a team entirely comprised of players from Queen’s Park, while the English side (playing with white shirts and caps) had players from nine different sides in its starting 11, with Oxford University fielding three players.
Formation wise, Scotland lined up with two at the back, two in midfield and six upfront, while England went for a formation of one defender, one midfielder and eight forwards.
o substitutions were allowed during the game (it would be a while before they were allowed), although England’s keeper, Robert Barker, did swap positions with an outfield player to try and give his side victory, although it was Scotland who came closest to doing so, with a Robert Leckie shot deemed to have hit the crossbar.

And although the Scottish side were deemed to have an advantage given their players’ sound knowledge of each other’s play, the game ended in a draw, with reports indicating that “neither side obtained a goal.”
Remarkably, the result wouldn’t be repeated between Scotland and England for another 98 years, until the teams battled out a 0-0 draw at Hampden on 25, April 1970.
It’s also interesting to note is that the game started with England’s captain, Cuthbert Ottaway, booting the ball deep into Scotland’s half, like in rugby.

And perhaps, most importantly, the game heralded the birth of the modern game by the Scottish side, who, given the difficulty they were having in trying past the English lines, started passing the ball to each other to try and leave their better players facing fewer opponents.

Proof, if ever it was needed, that Glasgow is the real home of football.