The first official football match between England and Scotland, which is the oldest international fixture, took place in 1872. Ahead of the World Cup qualifying match between the two sides at Hampden Park today (Saturday), Chris Lyles delves into the history of one of sport’s keenest rivalries.
- England and Scotland have played each other on 113 occasions, with England winning 48 times and Scotland 41. Of the 24 draws, only three have been goalless.
- From 1884 until 1984, the fixture formed part of the annual British Home Championship – with the exception of 1973, when an extra game was arranged to celebrate the centenary of the Scottish Football Association.
- One of the goalless draws came in the very first official fixture, which took place on (St Andrew’s Day) 30 November 1872 at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow, the home of the West of Scotland Cricket Club. The Scotland team consisted entirely of players from Queen’s Park, the most pre-eminent Scottish club of the time. The match was witnessed by a crowd of 4,000 people, who each paid a shilling for the pleasure.
- Scotland’s record margin of victory was 7-2 in 1878, but one of their most notable triumphs came in 1928 when their “Wembley Wizards” ran England ragged in a 5-1 win. Alex Jackson scored a hat-trick for the Scots while Alex James bagged a brace. It was later observed that “the traditional enemy, Scotland, came to Wembley and gave the Sassenachs a first-class lesson in the art of playing football”.
- Another famous Scotland win was a 3-2 victory at Wembley in April 1967. On the basis that England had lifted the World Cup against West Germany the previous summer, Scots everywhere declared that the win made them unofficial world champions.
- England’s most emphatic success was a 9-3 thumping of their arch rivals at Wembley in 1961. It is fair to say that Frank Haffey, the Scotland goalkeeper, did not cover himself in glory. So much so it was his final match for his country and he later moved to Australia where, after retiring as a footballer, he became a cabaret singer and a stand-up comedian. It certainly enabled him to distance himself from post-Wembley jokes like: “What’s the time? Nearly ten past Haffey” and “Haffey past nine”.
- The fixture at Wembley in 1977 made front-page headlines, though the most eye-catching action happened after the game itself. With Scotland having won 2-1, thousands of tartan-clad Scotland supporters invaded the playing area, where they tore up large sections of the pitch and ripped down the goalposts.
- The most famous goal in the long history of the fixture is quite possibly the one scored by England’s Paul Gascoigne at Wembley in the 1996 European Championship finals, a game England won 2-0. Gazza’s strike, after he had flicked the ball over Scottish defender Colin Hendry, was followed by the curious “dentist’s chair” celebration.
- Scotland’s last victory was a 1-0 win at Wembley in 1999 in a European Championship qualifying play-off tie. England, for their part, have won the three past matches.