Monday, 24 September 2012

Hamilton Crescent - the beginning of a beautiful game

      Hamilton Crescent is a cricket ground in the Partick area of Glasgow. But this article is not about cricket. The place is where the first international associacion football game took place.
       The year is 1872. Football is already one of the important sports around both universities and working classes around the UK. The recently created Football Association was lead by  Charles Alcock. As a way to promote competitiveness he organized a few games between teams representing England and Scotland, but players of both teams were chosen only among those living in the London area. The Scottish were not happy with that, because football was already well developed in the country and they considered having better representatives. There were other problems, mainly the fact that the rules of the game were not firmly established all around the island. Then Alcock sent a challenge via the newspaper and the leading Scottish club at the time - Queens Park Glasgow accepted it.
        So, on 30 November 1872 at 14.00 it finally happened - England and Scotland met on the field of Hamilton Crescent to play  an official game. The Scottish team ended up consisting entirely of players of Queens Park, although they had hoped to field a few others - it turned out they were unavailable, after all football was all amateur at that time. They wore dark-blue shirts and shorts and the team was selected by the goalkeeper and captain (teams did not have coaches at the time) The English team was made up from players of 9 different clubs, selected by Alcock himself and wore white shirts and red caps (yes, caps!).
       The game was delayed  for 20 minutes because of fog. The quicker Scottish players dominated the first half, but got tired and in the second half the physically strong English were more active. The English goalkeeper at some point exchanged places with a field player; he just wanted some chance to score. Contemporary accounts about the style of play are almost non-existent, however judging from other games it can be assumed that the Scots were more combinative and the English style was more individualistic. As can be expected on the heavily flooded field - the match ended in a goalless draw : 0-0.
      A few years later with the growing popularity of football the Scottish national team moved to Hampden Park and the crescent was used exclusively for cricket. Currently it is the home ground of the cricket club West of Scotland.

Coordinates: 55° 52′ 20.69″ N, 4° 18′ 31.89″ W
Google Maps
Wikipedia article on the game

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