1876 Scotland v Wales football match
The first international match for the Wales national football team took place on 25 March 1876 when they played Scotland at Hamilton Crescent, Partick, the home ground of the West of Scotland Cricket Club. The match was also the first time that Scotland had played an international fixture against a side other than England.
|Date||25 March 1876|
|Venue||Hamilton Crescent, Partick|
|Referee||Robert W. Gardner (Scotland)|
The match was organised by Llewelyn Kenrick who had founded the Football Association of Wales (FAW) only a few weeks earlier. The Welsh team was selected after a number of trial matches were held at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham following adverts being placed in several sporting journals for Welsh players or players with more than three years residence to come forward. The FAW selected the side and Kenrick was appointed captain for the fixture. As the more experienced team, Scotland dominated the match and claimed a 4–0 victory in front of a crowd of 17,000 people, a record for an international fixture at the time, with goals scored by John Ferguson, James Lang, Billy MacKinnon and Henry McNeil.
The two nations have met frequently following the first match, playing against each other every year in friendly matches until 1884 when the British Home Championship was introduced. The Championship was an annual tournament, meaning that Scotland and Wales played a fixture every year until 1984, apart from when competitive football was suspended during the First and Second World Wars. In total, they have now played over 100 matches in both competitive competitions and friendly matches against each other with Scotland recording 61 wins to Wales' 23 as of their last meeting in March 2013.
Scotland, along with England, is the joint oldest international football team in history and the first official international association football match was played between the two sides on 30 November 1872 (although this had been preceded by a series of "unofficial" matches in the previous two years played at The Oval), following which Scotland and England met annually in a series of friendly matches. By the time their fixture against Wales was organised in 1876, Scotland and England had played each other on five occasions in official matches.
Club football was well established in Scotland with the founding of Queen's Park in 1867, although the earliest Scottish club is believed to be the Foot-Ball Club of Edinburgh founded in 1827. The Scottish Football Association (SFA) and the Scottish Cup had also been founded in 1873.
In Wales, association football had struggled to gain recognition with rugby the preferred sport, especially in the south. Football clubs were establishing in North Wales – Druids and Wrexham were both founded in 1872. It would be over twenty years before football became established in the south, as Cardiff City were founded in 1899 and Swansea Town as late as 1912. There was no recognised league or cup football until 1877 when the Welsh Cup was introduced and the first league was not founded until the start of the 20th century when the Welsh Football League was created. The clubs would instead have to arrange friendly matches between themselves on an ad hoc basis.
In January 1876, a London-based Welshman, G Clay-Thomas, placed an advertisement in The Field newspaper proposing that a Welsh team be formed to play Scotland or Ireland at rugby. Llewelyn Kenrick of the Druids club saw the advertisement but decided that the international match should be Association football. Kenrick told "The Field" that the footballers of North Wales accepted the challenge and he advertised for players:
"Test matches will take place at the ground of the Denbighshire County Cricket Club at Wrexham for the purpose of choosing the Cambrian Eleven. Gentlemen desirous of playing are requested to send in their names and addresses."
Scotland were selected as the opponents, meaning Wales became the first team they had faced in an international fixture other than England. The newly formed Football Association of Wales (FAW) had hoped for the match to be played in Wales however, Scotland rejected this due to scheduling issues but did agree to a second fixture to be played the following year in Wales. Concerns by the FAW over financing the team's trip led to an appeal for public donations to raise money.
To be selected, the players had to be born in Wales or had taken up residence in the country for at least three years. Although Kenrick corresponded with several Welsh clubs and the Universities to raise a team he was criticised for allegedly overlooking players from the south, publishing most of his notices in English sports journals such as The Field and Bell's Life. C C Chambers, captain of Swansea, wrote a letter to the Western Mail in which he commented, "[...] there must be some sort of error, and that the team to play Scotland is to be selected from North Wales only. I shall be happy to produce from these parts a team that shall hold their own against any team against any team from North Wales" H. W. Davies, the honorary secretary of the South Wales Football Club also noted that he believed that "very few, if any, players (in the south) knew that a match [...] had ever been thought of, much less that a date had been fixed".
Despite these objections, Kenrick and the FAW pushed ahead with their plans and, once applications had been received, the FAW organised a number of trial matches at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham which took place in February 1876. The first match was played between players from Druids and Wrexham. The third trial match was organised on 26 February 1876 against a combined Oswestry team, made up of players from the town's football clubs, but was disrupted when six of the eleven players who were scheduled to play failed to turn up, leading to other local players who had travelled to watch the match taking their place. Four trial matches were held in total; further dates were postponed as the ground was being prepared for the upcoming cricket season.
For the final squad, Kenrick appointed himself as captain and selected six players from his own club, Druids, including Dr. Daniel Grey who was born in Scotland but had moved to Wales after obtaining his medical licence. Two players from local rivals, Wrexham, and one from English club, Oswestry were also selected. Usk-born William Evans of Oxford University was the only player from South Wales selected, with the others all from North Wales, other than John Hawley Edwards who was born in Shrewsbury in England and had previously represented the England national football team in 1874. Edwards was a fellow solicitor and member of the Shropshire Wanderers. Amongst the original selection were two players from Newtown, William Pryce and R.O. Evans, but neither were able to travel and withdrew. In Scotland, there was considerable interest in the team that would be arriving to play in the match, newspapers reporting rumours that Beaumont Jarrett and Thomas Bridges Hughes may feature for the Welsh side.
All eleven players selected for Wales were amateurs, comprising "two lawyers, a timber merchant, a student, a soldier, a stonemason, a physician, a miner, a chimney sweep, an office worker and an insurance company employee."
H. McNeil 70'
The players from both sides travelled together from their hotels in Glasgow to the match in a Horsebus and were greeted by a large crowd along the nearby highway. As Wales were an unknown team, the match drew a large crowd with the grandstand at the stadium being nearly full. Spectators were charged half-a-crown for entry and the crowd at pitch side was described as "very thick". In an attempt to see over the crowd, spectators climbed onto the roofs, parked taxis and horse buses and a nearby verge was filled with viewers. The official attendance of the match was recorded at 17,000, a new world record for a full international fixture, but some reports believe the number may have been even higher as between one and two hundred further spectators managed to gain access to the ground during the first half after a fence collapsed, allowing more people to enter.
Wales played in a plain white shirt with the Prince of Wales's feathers on the chest with black shorts while Scotland wore blue shirts and white shorts. Each player wore a different colour of socks in order for the crowd to recognise each player and the list of colours was included in the match programme. Like the Welsh, the Scots fielded six players from one club (Queens Park) and three of their players were making their international debut: James Lang, Moses McNeil and Robert W. Neill. Both teams played a 2–2–6 formation; i.e. two fullbacks, two half backs and six forwards.
Scotland captain Charles Campbell won the coin toss and choose to play "downhill" but with the sun in their faces. The Welsh kicked off the match at 3:40pm, but the Scots soon gained possession and proceeded to attack the Welsh goal with the Welsh having to defend solidly, William Evans being called on early on to "save the fortress" and send the ball upfield. The Welsh players were unable to break out of their own half and their forwards passing game was described as "not much understood". The Scots had a goal disallowed after Joseph Taylor scored direct from a corner. On the 40th minute, Lang's centre was caught by David Thomson in the Welsh goal, but John Ferguson "seeing an advantage, jumped forward with remarkable suddenness" thus forcing Thomson to drop the ball which was "kicked home" "amid great cheering" from the Scottish crowd.
After the half-time interval, the game became rather one-sided and the Scots ran in a further two goals (from Lang and MacKinnon) within ten minutes of the restart but Wales were unable to threaten any answer in return. The Welsh goal survived further scares until Henry McNeil completed a fine move upfield by Ferguson and Thomas Highet to end the scoring. The match report concluded: "Of the Welsh players, the backs, Evans and Kenrick, showed decidedly best, and Williams was not unfrequently good in his play". Of the Scottish players, all of whose play was considered "quite fine", Ferguson, Henry McNeil, Moses McNeil, Highet and Sandy Kennedy were mentioned as "deserving of praise for the pluck they displayed."
After the match, the Welsh visitors were hosted by the Scottish Football Association with dinner at McRae's Hotel on Bath Street. The SFA chairman toasted the Welsh side and praised their "unflinching determination" during the match despite the defeat and Welsh captain Kenrick also gave a speech.
Wales would not play another international match for nearly a year when they played a second fixture against Scotland on 5 March 1877 at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham, becoming the first international match to be played in Wales. Six of Wales' original side kept their places in the team and they gave a much improved performance as Scotland won the match 2–0. Scotland themselves had only played one match between the fixtures, losing 3–1 to England two days prior to the second match and traveling straight to Wales after the match. The two countries continued to meet each other in friendly matches once each year in February or March until 1884 when the British Home Championship, which involved England and Ireland, was inaugurated.
Scotland and Wales then met each year, other than when war intervened, until 1984, when the British Home Championship was abandoned. The two countries have also met in World Cup qualifying matches for the 1978 and 1986 tournaments, and were placed in the same group for the qualifying tournament for the 2014 World Cup. The Scots won the first 13 matches against Wales, with the first draw coming in 1889. It was not until 1905 that the Welsh claimed their first victory, defeating the Scots 3–1 at the Racecourse Ground. Since the two World Cup qualifying matches in 1985, the countries have met five times. The most recent was on 12 October 2012, when Wales won 2–1 in a World Cup qualifier.
The full record between the two countries is as follows:
|British Home Championship||89||50||17||22||198||107|
|World Cup qualifiers||6||2||3||1||6||6|
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