Soccer England vs. Scotland

By Woodland Soccer Team •  Updated: 05/24/22 •  8 min read

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The rivalry between England and Scotland is the oldest in soccer, as it can be traced back to when the two teams met in the first international soccer match held in 1872. The Scottish have had an immense desire to beat the English in soccer for a long time, and many Scottish journalists refer to the English as the ‘Auld Enemy,’ specifying their immense hatred for the English.

There have been many great rivalries in soccer, but the one between England and Scotland is one of the most competitive ones as they have been playing the sport for the longest time. The rivalry may have lost some of its shine in recent years, more specifically since the 1970s, mainly because the annual fixtures between the two countries stopped in 1989.

The Historic Rivalry between England and Scotland

Matches between England and Scotland have been marred with crowd trouble with supporters of both sides involved in nasty scenes. That is part of the reason why so many people say that the rivalry between England and Scotland is one of the worst ones in soccer. However, that has died down in recent times as the two hardly play any matches nowadays. Part of the reason why the annual fixture between the two nations was stopped was due to the crowds getting out of control and committing atrocious acts like storming the field and stripping the goalposts.

However, that can be said of all historic rivalries as there are bound to be ugly scenes when people involved in the great sport despise each other to an extent that it surpasses the boundaries of the game. Newspapers have reported that for millions of people on both sides of the border, the game represents the chance to have the ultimate victory over their enemy. It’s this kind of sensationalism that gets people riled up and gives new life to the rivalry that spans over a century.

By the early 1870s, the Secretary of the Football Association had issued challenges publicly in numerous Scottish newspapers, which invited Scottish players to play a match with the English national team, and it would be labeled as an international match. The newspapers openly invited all Scottish players to play against the English and show them who had the better players among the two sides.

There were five matches that were played between the two sides, and even though they aren’t officially recognized by FIFA as official matches, they still represented the first time these two countries played soccer matches against each other. The matches are well known for being the first international matches ever played and for matches where the teams had tactics for their opponents.

These international matches did a great deal of good in popularizing soccer amongst Scottish clubs, as by the 1870s, there were ten soccer clubs in Scotland. The first official match between England and Scotland was played in 1872 and was watched by a crowd of 4,000 people, but it ended in a 0-0 draw between the two bitter rivals.

Famous Matches Played Between England and Scotland

A historic rivalry such as the one produced between England and Scotland in soccer was bound to throw up some famous matches. There are plenty of results between the two bitter rivals that would cause you to reflect upon the intense nature of the games. The best matches between the two sides took place when they were playing against one another almost every year from the year 1884 to 1984 as part of the British Championships, where Wales and Northern Ireland also participated.

From 1984 to 1989, the matches between England and Scotland were played under the name of the Roux cup and it saw the two nations go head to head against one another. The British Home Championships also saw the teams play matches, which were labeled qualifiers for the World Cups in 1950 and 1954 and the European Championships in 1968. Now, let’s get to the juicy part, which are the famous matches played between England and Scotland throughout their history.

1. 1928: England 1 – 5 Scotland “Wembley Wizards”

The 1928 match between England and Scotland saw the Scottish side thump their English counterparts 5-1 and it was a scoreline that reflected their domination over their opposition. The newspapers were quick to give accolades to the Scottish team and dubbed them as the “Wembley Wizards,” such was the level of domination on show by the Scottish side. The match was part of the British Home Championship and saw the English side humbled by their Scottish counterparts.

2. 1961: England 9 – 3 Scotland “Heaviest Defeat”

If the previous match saw the English side humbled, they got their revenge in 1961 as the English side thumped their Scottish counterparts. Their display was filled with such domination that it led to calls for the old English stereotype that Scottish keepers were bad and couldn’t save goals. However, the English players downplayed that and said that it was the overall quality of their forward play that was the main contributor in the heaviest defeat suffered by Scotland against England and there was very little that Scotland goalkeeper Frank Haffey could do about the result.

3. 1967: England 2 – 3 Scotland “Unofficial World Champions”

England had won the world cup in 1966 and were the world champions, but it did not discourage their Scottish opposition, who saw it as a challenge. They were undefeated in 19 games and Scotland were massive underdogs going into the match. However, Scotland took an early lead through Denis Law, and was 2-0 up with twelve minutes remaining when Bobby Lennox scored a second goal.

England had been hampered by the fact that their player Jack Charlton had been injured in the game and they were unable to substitute him. They played with Charlton as an auxiliary forward for the game, and he scored the goal that got England back into the match. Such was the domination of the Scottish in this match that Jim Baxter was seen doing “Keepie Uppies” as Scotland toyed with their English counterparts late in the game.

After achieving victory, the Scottish would then playfully claim that they were the unofficial champions of the world. However, it was ultimately England that would go on to qualify for the European Championship in 1968 due to results from other matches.

4. 1977: England 1 – 2 Scotland “Crowd Trouble Mars the Game”

The 1977 match between England and Scotland was marred by crowd trouble late on in the game, as the spectators took to the field after Scotland’s win. They invaded the pitch and ripped up large sections of the ground, even ending up tearing down the goalposts. New Scotland manager Ally MacLeod saw the match as a great triumph as his team managed to build some optimism behind their push to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in 1978. The defeat was a death knell for the English manager Don Revie which meant he was quickly relieved of his managerial duties.

5. 1996: England 2 – 0 Scotland “European Championship”

The two bitter rivals, England and Scotland, met again in the European Championships in 1996. The match was being played seven years after the end of the annual fixture between the two sides in 1989. The two sides had been drawn together in the same group and the match took on greater importance as both England and Scotland managed to draw their opening fixtures against Switzerland and Netherlands. The match was well contested between the two sides in the first half, though Scotland had the better chances.

However, the game turned on its head with the introduction of Jamie Redknapp, and it was soon followed by a goal scored by Alan Shearer, who headed England into the lead. Scotland got a lifeline soon afterward when they were awarded a penalty kick, but the English goalkeeper David Seaman saved Gary McAllister’s penalty, which deflated the Scottish side. Paul Gascoigne would soon score the second goal for England as they managed to finally win a game in the group. England would qualify from the group, but Scotland would bow out of the European Championships on goals scored.

Final Thoughts

Nowadays, England considers games against Argentina and Germany to be more important than their historic rivalry against Scotland. That mainly has to do with the fact that Scottish teams don’t have the players they once did, such as Denis Law, who dominated the soccer landscape.

England’s biggest win in this fixture was their 9-3 win in 1961, and on the other hand, the biggest victory that Scotland had in this fixture was the 7-2 they recorded back in 1878. The largest crowd attendance in European history was also recorded between a fixture involving England and Scotland. With such a massive history between these two sides, it can be safe to say that soccer matches involving England and Scotland are historic and the next fixture between them will be sure to be legendary.

Woodland Soccer Team

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