Scotland 0-0 England, November 30th 1872. Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow.
The game of association football was really taking off in Victorian Britain with the rapidly growing number of clubs around the country and the founding of the FA Cup in 1871. Thus, in the spirit of good natured sporting competition, Scotland and England played the first ever international football match at the West of Scotland Cricket Club in Partick. Four thousand showed up to watch a game which finished goalless. The Scots – whose team comprised entirely of players from the Queen’s Park club – had a first half goal disallowed for the ball clearing the tape (crossbars not being introduced until 1875). On a pitch sodden and heavy following persistent rain for days leading up to the game, England’s more physical side cancelled out the skilful Scottish attack. The two countries met again in London four months later with England running out 4-2 winners.
England 1-1 Scotland, April 12th 1924. Wembley Stadium, London.
The first encounter between the two old rivals at the newly opened Wembley Stadium ended in a 1-1 stalemate in the 1924 British Home Championship. It was a competition won by Wales, leaving England and Scotland in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon in the final match. Aston Villa star Billy Walker scored the equalising goal that earned England their solitary point but couldn’t prevent them from finishing bottom of the table.
Scotland 1-2 England, April 15th 1939. Hampden Park, Glasgow.
In the last Home Championship before the outbreak of the Second World War, just shy of 150,000 were in attendance at Scotland’s national stadium to watch a championship decider that didn’t lack drama. Scotland took an early lead only for England to peg them back mid-way through the second half. Everton’s scoring sensation, and replacement for the great Dixie Dean, Tommy Lawton scored the winning goal with just two minutes remaining. It propelled England to the top of the table on goal difference from Scotland – who would have been outright winners had they held on to the draw – and Wales.
England 9-3 Scotland, April 15th 1961, Wembley Stadium, London.
By now, England/Scotland games had become ‘tasty’ affairs both on and off the pitch. A packed Wembley came to witness what they expected to be a tight game between two sides containing stellar names from the British game; for the English there was Jimmy Greaves, Jimmy Armfield, Johnny Haynes and Bobby Charlton while the Scots fielded the likes of Dave Mackay, Denis Law, Billy McNeill and Ian St. John. The game was anything but close. Walter Winterbottom’s England were three up by half time (the opener coming from Bobby Robson) and the rout continued in the second half, even though the Scots rallied to score three of their own. Greaves – who was at the peak of his powers – bagged a hat-trick while Bobby Smith, his team mate from Tottenham (who won the league and FA Cup double that year), scored twice. For Scotland, the result remains the heaviest defeat suffered by either side in the 144-year history of the fixture.
England 2-3 Scotland, April 15th 1967. Wembley Stadium, London.Embed from Getty Images
Six years on from the roasting they received at the hands of the Auld Enemy, Scotland once again pitched up at Wembley with a strong team in this Home Championship game that doubled as a European Championship qualifier. This time, though, they were expected to struggle against ten of the English XI (Jimmy Greaves replacing Roger Hunt) that were crowned world champions on the same pitch less than a year earlier. Scotland boss Bobby Brown included four players who would go on to win the European Cup with Celtic one month later and two Rangers players who would lose to Bayern Munich in the European Cup-Winners’ Cup final in the same week. Added to this, three legends of Scottish football – Jim Baxter, Denis Law and Billy Bremner – and the upset may not have been as unlikely as it first seemed. England had previously gone unbeaten for 19 matches yet were always chasing the game; Law and Bobby Lennox putting Scotland two up before Jack Charlton pulled a goal back. Jim McCalliog restored the two-goal gap, and even though World Cup hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst reduced the arrears, Scotland held on to claim a momentous victory – one that their supporters claim to this day won them the title of Unofficial World Champions.
Scotland 2-0 England, May 18th 1974. Hampden Park, Glasgow.
The 1970s heralded something of a slump for England on the world stage. World Cup winning manager Sir Alf Ramsey was sacked a month before the Home Championship leaving England in the hands of caretaker Joe Mercer. And to make matters worse Scotland began qualifying for major tournaments – something their neighbours failed to accomplish throughout the rest of the decade. A packed Hampden waved Scotland off to the World Cup in West Germany in this Home Championship decider. Joe Jordan – always on hand with a goal in some of his country’s biggest games – put the home side in front before the pre-match Bovril would have had a chance to cool. Bragging rights were sealed on the half hour with a Colin Todd own goal. The Scots failed to make it past the group stage of the 1974 World Cup, largely due to their inability to hammer whipping boys Zaire.
England 1-2 Scotland, June 4th 1977. Wembley Stadium, London.Embed from Getty Images
Once again Scotland marched south – well, the fans did as many of their star players were based in England – to rout the Three Lions on their own turf. A dominant display by the likes of Graeme Souness, Kenny Dalglish, Bruce Rioch and Danny McGrain was barely reflected in the final scoreline. A jubilant Tartan Army, who had flooded London and Wembley itself, let exuberance get the better of them perhaps fuelled by far too much Tennent’s Super Strength on the trains and buses down to the capital and on their congregation in places like Trafalgar Square. Thousands spilled onto the pitch at the final whistle, ripping up pieces of grass and taking them home, and breaking the goal posts in delight at what they’d just witnessed. The images of flared-trouser wearing Scots jubilantly invading English territory remain as distant as they do iconic.
Scotland 0-2 England, May 27th 1989. Hampden Park, Glasgow.
For reasons of safety, the Home Championship was cancelled in 1984. Hooliganism and trouble stalked the fixtures and travel to Northern Ireland in particular was considered too dangerous in the heat of inter-Union bitterness. The Rous Cup, an invitational competition named in honour of the former head of the FA and FIFA Sir Stanley Rous, pitted England and Scotland against some of South America’s best nations. It was a short-lived competition with this particular game being the penultimate to be held in its name. Bobby Robson’s England triumphed thanks to goals by the beautifully-mulletted Chris Waddle and the shaven-headed Steve Bull. It would be a whole seven years before the two countries met again – at Wembley during Euro ’96, when football came home and Gazza recreated the infamous ‘Dentist’s Chair’ drinking game in his goal celebration.
England 0-1 Scotland, November 17th 1999. Wembley Stadium, London.
Both nations could only secure runners-up spot in the Euro 2000 qualifying groups which then made it necessary to go through the dreaded play-offs to reach the tournament. Four days earlier, England took what seemed a decisive 2-0 first leg lead away from Hampden Park courtesy of two goals by Paul Scholes. The Scots – on paper a supposedly much weaker team – went to Wembley with little hope but to keep the aggregate score down. With very little to lose, Craig Brown’s men set about Kevin Keegan’s complacent England side rendering them toothless and disjointed. When Gateshead-born Don Hutchison headed his adopted nation into a half time lead, the nerves began to jangle for the English contingent both on the pitch and in the stands. Although the Scots were dominant for the remainder of the game, they couldn’t find the all-important equalising goal that would possibly have seen a total England collapse and Scotland’s qualification at their expense.
Scotland 1-3 England, November 18th 2014. Celtic Park, Glasgow.Embed from Getty Images
This friendly match was played out with a political narrative as the backdrop; the Scottish Independence Referendum having taken place two months earlier and the Remembrance Day Poppy/Celtic Park issue having filled plenty of column inches in the days and weeks leading up to the contest. Having bombed out spectacularly at the World Cup in Brazil just a few months earlier, England put their oldest rivals to the sword, looking faster and more accomplished. Wayne Rooney – closing in on Bobby Charlton’s England all-time scoring record – netted twice in his country’s first visit north of the border for 15 years.
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