Scotland vs England 150 years on

Posted by Frankie Shattock's Shatball Podcast Frankie Shattock on May 26, 2023

Right fellas. Imagine a Scotland in yer heads. A Scotland that leads the world in the fields of science, technology, innovation, all that stuff. With its own legal system, its own stock exchange, printing its own bleedin' bank notes, the whole shebang. A land filled with innovative factories, laboratories, hospitals, Universities, financial institutions, you name it. All packed to the gunnels with well-educated, self-confident Scots who can go out there and make a right success of themselves, mate.

That was the Scotland of 1872, the year of the first bleedin' Scotland vs England football international.

1872 engl v scotland ralston
Scotland's central midfield pivot wins back possession

On a chilly Saturday afternoon in November 1872, it all kicked off. The pitch, at the West of Scotland Cricket Club's ground in Partick, was as heavy as a recently ploughed tattie field. And when the ref that day plonked the ball down in the centre circle, stuck the whistle in his gob and blew, battle commenced in the longest-running football rivalry in history. A rivalry that continues to this day. Un-bleedin'-abated.

I've always wondered: What would it be like to go back in time and watch that game, eh? Would it be much different from today? Well, let me tell ya, the rules were a bit different back in them days, mate. Take the offside rule. It was as simple as they come, but it wouldn't have done many favours for yer attacking football I can tell ya'! In 1872, a player was offside if they were in front of the bleedin' ball when it was played to them. Yeah, you got that right: any forward pass and the defenders arms would be straight up in the air, "OFFSIDE REF!"

And get this, the goalkeeper could handle the ball anywhere on the bleedin' field, no fancy penalty boxes like nowadays. I reckon that would've made the game a whole different kettle of fish, mate.

But one thing that ain't changed is the expectations of the home fans. Yer Scottish contigent. Back then, a final score of nil-nil was a proper disappointment to the locals, just like it would be today. This is the match Scotland just has to win, mate. It's was a matter of pride and all that back then, and its a matter of pride today.