Fitba 150

Event at Hampden Celebrating 150th Anniversary of the First International Football Match


by Fraser Cairns

During the 2014 World Cup, I stood at the West of Scotland Cricket Ground, Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow as I was enjoying the Founders Trail. After receiving some education on Rangers first Scottish Cup Final which was hosted at that venue, the tour guide pointed out a plaque that was erected on the side of the club, that stated:

“The World’s first international football match was played between Scotland and England at the West of Scotland Cricket Ground, Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow on St Andrews’s day, the 30th November 1872.”

Immediately, I was in debate with myself. On one hand, I liked the fact that such a significant historical event was acknowledged with merely a plaque. It was a nice “Easter Egg” and standing at the very ground that day become quite eerie.

There was also a part of me that thought we should shout about this more. I have passed by the FA museum in Manchester before, and I was inclined to think that they would commemorate this in a large way. That is, if they had hosted the first international football match.

I was attending the Founders Trail that day, a tour that was researched and brought to you by fans of Rangers Football Club, and I left educated, and wondering more about the origins of the game in Scotland more generally.

The Hampden Collection

Some years later, it became possible that the Scottish National team may leave their historic and iconic ground, Hampden Park. At this point I came across the Keep Hampden Roaring campaign, and subsequently, The Hampden Collection. The Hampden Collection was set up in 2017 and are a group of people who are dedicated to preserving the history and community to celebrate the magnificent story of Hampden Park. They achieve this by uncovering history, and broadcasting the story on various mediums.

My contact there, Graeme Brown, who had experienced a similar moment to myself at WoS Cricket Ground, when he walked into Hampden Bowling club and was told it was the site of the first Hampden. This was before the team moved to second Hampden, or what some of you may be more familiar with, as Cathkin Park. However, there was little evidence for this at the time. The research had not already been done and Graeme set out to find the proof, tell the story but also with the motive that it could preserve the location, as the Hampden Bowling club was struggling at the time, and perhaps never realise the true importance of the heritage site in which they were located.

Graeme and I discussed this on The North Section podcast. Preserving the history of the first Hampden and telling the story of the first International Football match are incredibly important when it comes to celebrating the history of football in Scotland.

You can hear more on Graeme Brown’s discovery in our podcast with him below:

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Scotland 0-0 England, 1872

On St Andrew’s Day, 30 November 1872, teams representing Scotland and England played a 0-0 draw in front of thousands of spectators. This match was a significant moment in the development of international football. The exact size of the crowd that day remains unclear, with estimates ranging between 2,500 and 4,000. All eleven players for the Scotland team were selected from the membership of Queen’s Park FC. This original match provided the ignition switch and launchpad for the explosion of football across Glasgow and Scotland, leading to the trailblazing Scotch Professors taking their beautiful game to the world. 

This match is the foundation stone of modern football, and it is celebrated through our #Fitba150 programme, which ensures that it gains the recognition it deserves. The programme aims to highlight the rich history and achievements of Scottish football and promote the sport’s positive impact on communities across Scotland.

Another foundational club of Scottish football was Clydesdale, which contested the first Scottish Cup Final with Queen’s Park. Clydesdale also played a driving role in the creation of the Scottish Football Association, which was established just five months after the inaugural international match.

Event at Hampden

“The Birth of International Football,” was held at the Scottish Football Hall of Fame on November 24th, 2022. The event was part of the “FITBA150” series of events celebrating 150 years of Scottish football. The event featured a range of speakers, including historians, tour guides and poets who discussed the origins of international football, the development of the game, and the role of Scotland in shaping the sport. Attendees had the opportunity to learn about the history of international football and its significance for the sport as we know it today.

The event also included an exhibition of historical football artifacts, such as old footballs, boots, and jerseys. Attendees had the chance to view these items up close and learn about their significance to the development of the sport. In addition, the event featured a Q&A session hosted by Dr Fiona Skillen with Lindsay Hamilton from The Glasgow Football Tour.

Overall, “The Birth of International Football” event was a fascinating and informative celebration of the origins of international football and its importance in the history of sport. The range of speakers, the exhibition of artifacts, and the Q&A session made it an engaging and interactive experience for attendees. It was a fitting tribute to the 150th anniversary of Scottish football and a testament to the enduring legacy of the sport in Scotland and beyond.

The event also included a visit to the Scottish Football Museum, which is located within the Scottish Football Hall of Fame. The museum contains a vast collection of football memorabilia and artifacts, including trophies, medals, and jerseys from some of Scotland’s greatest footballing moments. Attendees had the opportunity to explore the museum and learn more about the history of Scottish football, making the event a truly immersive experience.

Ravenscraig Pioneers

The event also marked the 50th anniversary of the first women’s international match at Ravenscraig. The historic game took place on May 18, 1972, between England and Scotland, and was witnessed by around 4,000 spectators. The match played a crucial role in paving the way for women’s football in Scotland and across the world, with players such as Rose Reilly and Edna Neillis becoming pioneers for future generations of female footballers. The event at Hampden Park paid tribute to these women and their legacy, and highlighted the significant progress that has been made in women’s football over the past 50 years.

@northsection We were invited to an event at #hampdenpark to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first international football match on #standrewsday ♬ Winter / Chill / R & B_No517 - table_1

The Formation of the SFA in 1873

The formation of the Scottish Football Association is an important part of Scottish football history. The SFA was formed in 1873, making it the second-oldest national football association in the world, after the English Football Association. The formation of the SFA was a significant milestone in the development of football as a global sport.

In 2023, the SFA will be celebrating their 150th anniversary, and they have announced plans to mark the occasion with a new strip. The new kit is set to be unveiled later in the year, and it will pay tribute to the history and heritage of Scottish football. The SFA has also announced a series of events and initiatives to celebrate the anniversary, including a special exhibition, a gala dinner, and various community outreach programs. The celebrations will be an opportunity to reflect on the rich history of Scottish football and look ahead to the future of the sport in Scotland.

The new Adidas Scotland 150 years anniversary kit has been receiving rave reviews. The predominantly navy blue strip features the iconic three stripes on the shoulders, a white V-neck collar, and a subtle tartan pattern in the fabric. The Scottish Football Association crest is embroidered in gold to mark the special occasion. Many fans and critics have praised the kit’s classy design, which pays tribute to Scotland’s football history while also looking forward to the future. The kit is set to be officially launched on March 11, 2023, in a match against Ukraine at Hampden Park.


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