#FlashbackFriday - England v Scotland: Part Two - 1898 to 1945

Despite the fact that professionalism turned the tide of this fixture in England’s favour, by the turn of the century, the attitude of the ‘gentlemen’ amateurs didn’t immediately change towards their professional colleagues.  Despite the professionals becoming increasingly prominent on the field of play, It remained a convention with the F.A. that England still had to be captained by one of the ‘gentlemen’ Corinthian amateurs. 

As stated in a quote from the Athletics News publication in 1892: ‘it hardly seems the right thing to our unsophisticated mind for a captain of an international team not to recognize his men on a long railway journey, not to speak to them in any way, to travel in a separate compartment, to dine away from them at the hotel, to leave them severely alone until driving off to the match and generally behave as if he were a superior sort of being’.  Toward the end of the decade, in 1898, for their visit to Celtic Park to play Scotland, the English were captained by Corinthian amateur Charles Wreford-Brown and won 3-1.

One of the famed early English professionals had been Steve Bloomer of Derby County (also a professional Baseball player too, performing at Derby’s Baseball Ground during the summer months), who later told a story of this game in that his captain Wreford-Brown: ‘wore good old fashioned knickers which had side pockets in them’.  England’s goalscorers, Fred Wheldon of Aston Villa and Bloomer himself both received gold sovereign coins which Wreford-Brown which he pulled from his pockets on the field of play after their goals went in.  Bloomer also states that after the game, his captain invited the rest of the team to his separate dressing room for champagne.

The first England v Scotland international of the twentieth century came in April 1900 at Celtic Park, where England were on the receiving end of a 1-4 drubbing by the Scots with a hat-trick for Bob McColl of Queens Park.  In April 1902, England visited Ibrox Stadium to play Scotland.  England needed a win to take the Home International Championship, where the Scots needed just a draw. This would be the first England v Scotland match which would be contested between two wholly professional teams, though would end up being far more noteworthy as the scene of the very first Ibrox Stadium disaster.  The Stadium’s newly built wooden West Tribune Stand had suffered a heavy rainfall the previous evening.


Just six minutes into the game, the stand collapsed and hundreds of fans fell from around forty feet.  It led to the deaths of twenty five people and over five hundred injured.  Incredibly, the match carried on after a brief interruption as the majority of the crowd were not aware of the magnitude of the disaster.  The authorities took the decision that it would be safer for the rest of the match to be played so as not to cause any further panic in what was now an overcrowded stadium.  Many of the players however were aware of spectator deaths.  The second half therefore was played out in a non-competitive spirit and ended in a 1-1 draw.

The match however was to be declared void by the two Football Associations after a meeting of the FA Council at London’s Chancery Lane two weeks later.  One month on, the match was replayed at Villa Park.  All proceeds from the game went to the disaster fund.  Scotland took a two goal first half lead, however England pulled it back with the game ending in a 2-2 draw, meaning that Scotland won the 1901/02 Championship.  England and Scotland held a duopoly on the British Home International Championship until 1902/03.  Going into the final fixture between England and Scotland, Ireland (not yet partitioned between North and South) were level on points with England who needed just a point to secure the tournament.  Scotland stood two points behind in third.


At Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane, Tottenham Hotspur’s Vivian Woodward gave England the lead after ten minutes.  In the second half however, goals for Finlay Speedie of Rangers and Bobby Walker of Hearts gave Scotland a 2-1 away win and a three way tie at the top of the table, which saw the championship shared between England, Scotland and Ireland.  This game would also be the earliest from this fixture to be captured on film; however the footage has since been lost.  The England-Scotland duopoly however would reassert itself again and in April 1906 England would play their first game at a redeveloped Hampden Park. Built after the Ibrox disaster of 1902, special measures were taken to ensure the safety of large crowds within the stadium.


The redeveloped Hampden Park was the biggest and most technically advanced stadium in the world.  It would remain the World’s biggest stadium until surpassed by the Maracana Stadium in Brazil ahead of the 1950 World Cup.  The 1906 fixture would be the first England v Scotland game where the attendance would surpass six figures, as a crowd of 102,741 saw the Scots inflict a 1-2 defeat on England, which meant that the British Home International Championship would be shared between England and Scotland.  The England-Scotland duopoly however would be fully broken in 1906/07.  After a 1-1 draw between England and Wales at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, the Welsh topped the group, with England standing two points behind in second place.  A win for England in their final fixture against Scotland at Newcastle’s St. James’s Park would see the Championship shared between them and the Welsh.


This game would be the earliest surviving footage available of an England v Scotland fixture, as the Movietone newsreel would capture the tie.  Scotland took the lead with an own goal from Blackburn’s Robert Crompton after two minutes.  England equalised with a goal from Steve Bloomer three minutes ahead of half time, however with no further scoring the game finished in a 1-1 draw, meaning that the Welsh won the Home International Championship for the first time. 

By 1908, the Scotland v England fixture at Hampden Park saw the attendance balloon to 121,452 spectators who witnessed a 1-1 draw between the sides.  This would be a World record for gate receipts, however this figure too was surpassed again four years later, when a crowd of 127,307 saw Scotland draw 1-1 again with the Auld Enemy at Hampden Park.  The last English victory before the outbreak of the First World War occurred in April 1913 with a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge.  The final game ahead of hostilities came one year on at Hampden Park, with a 3-1 victory for the Scots, which was however ultimately meaningless as Ireland secured their first ever Home International Championship after a 1-1 draw with Scotland at Windsor Park in Belfast three weeks prior.  Football generally would cease during the First World War, as did the British Home International Championship.  There would however still be wartime internationals between England and Scotland, the first of which took place at Goodison Park in May 1916 where England ran out 4-3 winners. 

The next meeting between England v Scotland would occur at the same venue in late April 1919, after the Armistice with the Germans.  A series of matches between the Home nation sides called ‘Victory Internationals’ to celebrate the end of hostilities occurred.  Scotland led 2-1 at half time, though an England equaliser in the second half secured a 2-2 draw.  One week on, the two sides met again at Hampden Park.  England ran out 4-3 winners in front of a crowd of 80,000.  In 1920, the Home International Championship returned after a six year hiatus.  That year’s England v Scotland game took place at Hillsborough in Sheffield.  After taking a 2-1 lead a quarter of an hour into the game, England went 2-4 down by half time. A second half fight back however saw England run out 5-4 winners.  This however would be England’s last victory for the next seven years. 

In the meantime, the first England v Scotland game to take place at Wembley occurred in April 1924.  The Welsh had already sown up the Championship after a 1-0 win over Ireland in Belfast three weeks prior.  England in the meantime had failed to secure a win throughout the championship.  The Scots took the lead five minutes ahead of half time, after a shot from Willie Cowan hit the post and rebounded against England goalkeeper Ted Taylor for an own goal.  On the hour England were level, when Sunderland’s Charlie Buchan headed across goal, with Aston Villa’s Billy Walker slotting away the equaliser, with the match ending in a 1-1 draw.  England however finished bottom of the group table for the first time in the history of the home international championship.

In 1925, England and Scotland went into the final fixture between the two sides at Hampden Park level on points.  Two goals for Airdrie’s Hughie Gallacher gave Scotland a 2-0 win in front of a crowd of 92,000 and secured that year’s Home International Championship.  Ahead of Scotland’s visit to Old Trafford in April 1926, Scotland had already sown up the Home International Championship after a 4-0 win over Ireland in late February and a hat-trick for Hughie Gallacher, now of Newcastle United.  Scotland finished with a 100% record after a 1-0 win over England courtesy of a goal from Huddersfield’s Alex Jackson.  England in contrast finished the tournament bottom of the table with just one point.

The twenties were a poor decade for England in the Home International Championship; however one semi-victory came in 1926/27.  In front of 111,214 fans at Hampden Park, Scotland took the lead with a goal from Alan Morton of Rangers three minutes into the second half, however an equaliser from Dixie Dean on sixty five minutes was followed by a winner from the Everton forward to give England a 2-1 win – their first win north of the border for twenty three years and their first ever victory at Hampden Park

The victory left them on level points with Scotland, meaning that the Home International Championship for 1926/27 would be shared between England and the Scots.  The following season however would see a dire campaign for England.  After a 0-2 defeat to Ireland in Belfast in October 1927 and 1-2 defeat to Wales at Burnley’s Turf Moor a month later the English were anchored to the foot of the table.  The Welsh had sown up the Championship with a 2-1 away win over Ireland in early February.  England and Scotland therefore would be playing off for the wooden spoon at Wembley at the end of March 1928.  This would also be the first England v Scotland game covered by BBC Radio, with future Arsenal boss George Allison providing second half commentary (the BBC earlier on that day also covered the Boat Race) This was Scotland’s third visit to the Empire Stadium and saw the beginnings of the ‘Wembley Clubs’ where working class Scots would spend the two years between fixtures saving for the next trip to London.

Eleven special trainloads of supporters travelled from Glasgow to London on the Friday night before the game.  A post-war booklet on the history of Wembley Stadium commented that: ‘all Scotland seemed to come to town for that match, and the fans actually brought their own scaling ladders to make sure of getting into the stadium. As a result of this, Wembley afterwards became a barbed wire fortress’.  Scotland took the lead after three minutes with a goal from Huddersfield’s Alex Jackson.  Just ahead of half time, Alex James of Preston North End doubled the Scots’ lead.  Mid-way through the second half, James and Jackson struck again to put the Scots four goals up.


Jackson completed his hat-trick with four minutes left to play.  England pulled back a consolation goal in the final minute from Huddersfield’s Bob Kelly.  The English however completed a disastrous Home International Championship for 1927/28 without a single point.  A 5-1 win for the Scots saw them christened the ‘Wembley Wizards’.

England ended the decade going into the 1929 tie with Scotland Hampden Park on the back of victories over both Wales and Ireland.  The Scots however were level on points after 7-3 away win over Ireland at Belfast.  England’s visit to Hampden therefore would effectively be a play off for the Championship.  This too would be the first England v Scotland game covered by BBC Radio live in its entirety.  In front of a crowd of 110,512, the Scots went down to ten men after an injury to Alex Jackson however they sealed a 1-0 win with a last minute goal scored direct from a corner from Aberdeen’s Alec Cheyne

Cheyne’s goal was credited with creating the famous ‘Hampden Roar’ as allegedly, Alex Jackson – one mile away from Hampden at Glasgow’s Victoria Infirmary – could hear the crowd’s cheer as the goal went in.  This 0-1 defeat rounded off a terrible 1920s for the Three Lions in the Home Internationals, in contrast to Scotland who either won outright or shared seven championships during that same decade.  In the following decade ahead of the Second World War the English would return to winning ways, while Scotland – where England would still find great difficulty picking up an away win - would not be seen as quite so dominant as they were during the 1920s.


In 1929/30 England however would win their first Championship during the inter-war period.  Both England and Scotland had won their first two games in the 1929/30 Home International Championship and the England v Scotland tie the following April would again be the championship decider.  England this time went in at half time four goals up with two from West Ham’s Vic Watson as well as one from Ellis Rimmer of Sheffield Wednesday and Arsenal’s David Jack.  In the second half, Jimmy Fleming of Rangers pulled one back before a second goal for Rimmer put England 5-1 up.  Just past the hour, Fleming added a second however the Scots couldn’t prevent a 5-2 win for England and the three lions taking the Championship with a 100% record.

In 1930/31, England again won both their opening two fixtures in the Home International Championship and in the process scored nine goals.  The best Scotland could manage in contrast was two draws.  At the end of March in front of a mammoth crowd of 131,273 (then a World record attendance figure), goals for Motherwell’s George Stevenson and Celtic’s Jimmy McGrory gave Scotland a 2-0 win and saw the 1931/32 Championship shared between the two sides.  In 1931/32, once again England and Scotland had won both games, meaning the England v Scotland fixture would again decide the Championship.  England managed a comprehensive 3-0 win at Wembley with goals from Aston Villa’s Pongo Waring, Sheffield United’s Bobby Barclay and Derby’s Sammy Crooks.  The YouTube video on right hand side also provides a recording of a commentary on the game from future Arsenal boss George Allison.

The England-Scotland duopoly on the Home International Championship would be broken again in 1932/33.  By the time that England visited Hampden Park to meet Scotland, Wales had already sealed the Championship after a 4-1 win over Ireland, following on from a 5-2 away victory over Scotland at Edinburgh’s Tynecastle.  Despite the fact that neither side could seal the Championship, the world record for gate receipts would be broken again after 136,259 fans turned out for the occasion. A goal for Jimmy McGrory ten minutes from time gave the Scots a 2-1 win.  Incredibly, Wales would retain the Championship in 1933/34, after a 2-1 away win over England in November 1933 at St. James’s Park in Newcastle.  England completed their fixtures with a 3-0 win over Scotland the following April in front of 92,363 spectators at Wembley.  On the Scoresheet for England would be Arsenal’s Cliff Bastin with a superb thirty yard drive, Eric Brook of Man City and Derby County’s Jack Bowers

By early April 1935, England topped the Home International Championship table with four points and needing just one further point to secure the championship, while Scotland were two points behind needing a win.  A crowd of 129,693 saw Scotland run out 2-0 winners, with two goals from Derby County’s Dally Duncan which saw the Championship shared between England and the Scots.

Twelve months on, Scotland topped the table by one point over England, after the three lions were defeated 1-2 to Wales at Wolverhampton’s Molineux.  England took a one goal lead after Middlesbrough’s George Camsell scored on the half hour.  The Scots however equalised with a penalty from Tommy Walker of Hearts, with a 1-1 draw meaning that Scotland would win the Championship outright for the first time in seven years. 

By April 1937, Wales had already secured the Home International Championship one month earlier.  The highest ever attendance for an international football match in the whole of Europe, with a crowd of 149,415, saw England take the lead five minutes before half time with a goal from Stoke City’s Freddie Steele.  In the second half however, the Hampden roar made all the difference as Preston North End’s Frank O’Donnell equalised for the Scots.  Two goals in the last ten minutes for Bob McPhail however gave the Scots a 3-1 win. England had already sown up the Home International Championship of 1937/38 by the time Scotland visited Wembley in April 1938.  Tommy Walker however put Scotland one up after six minutes.  There would be no further scoring as the Scotland left Wembley for the last time before the Second World War with a 1-0 win.  This game would also be noteworthy as being the first ever televised international Football match shown anywhere in the world, as the match was covered live in full by BBC Television.  

England’s last pre-war visit to Hampden Park came in April 1939.  The live television coverage of a year prior would not be repeated, but the game would be covered in full on the wireless through the BBC's National Programme.  Scotland sat joint top of the table level with a Welsh side who defeated 4-2 at Ninian Park the previous October.  A Scotland victory would hand them the Championship and the Scots took the lead with a goal from Preston’s Jimmy Dougal on twenty minutes.  Twenty two minutes into the second half, England equalised with a goal from Huddersfield’s former Arsenal star Pat Beasley.  With two minutes to go, Everton’s Tommy Lawton secured a 2-1 victory for England – their first at Hampden Park for twelve years.  The upshot of this was a three way tie in which England, Scotland and Wales would share the last pre-war Home International Championship.

The Second World War broke out on 3rd September 1939 and the football season immediately halted as a result.  Several wartime friendlies however did occur between England and Scotland during World War Two, the first just three months into the war at Newcastle’s St. James’s Park in front of 15,000 spectators (attendances were limited to ensure the safety of crowds in the event of an air raid).  The gate receipts for this fixture raised funds for the Red Cross.  The England side were based entirely in the North of England, however kicked off the game with just nine men due to a car accident involving two Man City players – Eric Brook and Sam Barkas. 


As a result of the accident, Brook suffered a fractured skull and due to an inability to head the ball as a result, was forced to retire from the game.  England made up the numbers with two local Newcastle United players who attended the match as spectators – one of whom, Tommy Pearson, was actually a Scottish international.  The other player, Henry Clifton, would get himself on the scoresheet, alongside Everton’s Tommy Lawton as the England side ran out 2-1 winners.  Six months later, the two sides met at Hampden Park in front of 75,000 spectators.  The two sides played out a 1-1 draw. 

In February 1941, England would meet Scotland again at St. James’s Park, this time however southern based players were included within the squad.  England however crashed to a 2-3 defeat.  What was ironic about this 1941 Wartime friendly however was an appearance on the England side of a player with the Christian name of Adolphe.  The son of a Norwegian mariner, Adolphe Hansen was born in Bootle and started his career at Liverpool before transferring to Chelsea in 1938.  At some time during the 1930s Hansen unsurprisingly adopted the first name of ‘Alf’ instead of his birth name.  The match at St. James’s Park would be the first of three during this calendar year.  In early May 1941, in front of 78,000 spectators at Hampden Park, an England side which included Joe Mercer, Stanley Matthews and Denis Compton managed a 3-1 win over a Scotland side which included future Liverpool manager Bill Shankly.  Five months later, England managed a 2-0 win over Scotland at Wembley, with both sides introduced to Prime Minister Winston Churchill ahead of the kick off.

In January 1942, England met Scotland again at Wembley on a frozen pitch in front of 64,000 spectators, with the gate receipts going towards Russian aid, as the Soviet Union would be fighting off an invasion attempt by Hitler’s Nazis.  England inflicted a three goal defeat on the Scots side, which included both Bill Shankly and future Man United boss Matt Busby.  Goals for Sheffield United’s James Hagan and two goals for Everton’s Tommy Lawton meant a 3-0 win for England.      

In April 1942, England met Scotland at Hampden Park in front of 91,000 people.  A Tommy Lawton hat-trick wasn’t enough to prevent England crashing to a 4-5 defeat.  The following October, England played out a 0-0 draw with Scotland at Wembley.  In 1943, there would be two fixtures between England and Scotland.  In April, in front of 105,000 spectators at Hampden Park goals for Denis Compton, Dennis Westcott and two for Raich Carter gave England a 4-0 win.  Six months later at Manchester’s Maine Road goals for Raich Carter, Stanley Matthews, two for James Hagan and four for Tommy Lawton gave England a thumping 8-0 win over the Scots. 

In February 1944, the two sides would meet this time at Wembley Stadium.  Goals for Raich Carter, Tommy Lawton, Joe Mercer, two for James Hagan and an own goal for Archibald Macaulay gave the English a 6-2 victory

Two months later at Hampden Park, with a crowd of 133,000 witnessing a 3-2 win for England with goals for Raich Carter and two for Tommy Lawton.

The following October back at Wembley, there would be another 6-2 victory for England with goals for Brentford’s Leslie Smith, West Ham’s Len Goulden, Sunderland’s Raich Carter and a hat-trick for Everton’s Tommy Lawton which pushed England’s goal tally to twenty seven in just five games against the Scots.  There would be two more meetings between England and Scotland before VE Day.  At Villa Park in Birmingham, two goals for Stan Mortensen aided a 3-2 victory for England in early February 1945.

The final wartime fixture between the two sides occurred in Mid-April, just two and a half weeks before Germany’s surrender.  In front of a crowd of 133,000 at Hampden Park, goals for Leslie Smith, Stanley Matthews, Raich Carter, Robert Brown and two for Tommy Lawton meant a thumping 6-2 away win for England.  The Post-war Story of the England v Scotland fixture meanwhile will continue in part three of this series of articles, which will feature ahead of England’s return fixture at Hampden Park next June.