For anyone under the age of 35, matches between the two countries that invented the game of football and who staged what’s regarded as the world’s first ever football international in 1872, have been few and far between. But if you grew up before the mid-1980’s, when for a variety of reasons the fixture unfortunately fell into disrepute, the game was always one of THE highlights of the season – no matter which country you were supporting.
To highlight how important the fixture was, the only matches that were typically always shown live on television every year, until the advent of regular televised live league games in England in the mid-1980’s, were the English and Scottish FA Cup Finals plus the England v Scotland match. Even the European Cup Final did not get a guaranteed live television screening, unless a UK side was playing.
Wednesday 14th August 2013, sees the first match to be played between the oldest opponents in international football history since the 1999 play-off games for the 2000 UEFA Football Championship. The match is to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the English FA, and Scotland have sold nearly 18,000 tickets to members of the Scotland Supporters Club.
London can expect an invasion of Scotland fans – although nothing to match the numbers that travelled in the 70’s and 80’s. In this article we will look at a few of the connections between Queen’s Park Rangers and Scotland.
The formation of Queen’s Park Rangers:
Jack McDonald was born in Glasgow in 1869 and left Scotland for London with his sister, two brothers as well as his widowed mother. He was a pupil at D (later Droop) Street Board School, now Queen’s Park Primary School.
McDonald had become a member of the Boys’ Brigade and in 1885 he and his friend Fred Weller suggested forming a football team and with the approval of the vicar, Sidney Bott, St. Jude’s Institute FC was created. The following year the club merged with Christ Church Rangers and Queen’s Park Rangers were formed.
Whether the officials of the new club realised that they had created a team that fused the names of two of the then top clubs in Glasgow we will never know, but it has to be likely that they did know this – as they also probably realised that the club’s green and white hooped shirts, adopted a few years later, were the colours of another top Glasgow side – Celtic.
England 2 Scotland 1 – Monday 29th April 1901 at the National Athletic Ground, Kensal Rise:
Like a great many London sides at the time, Rangers had several Scots amongst their professional playing staff. A match was arranged between the team members, with some amateurs guesting for both sides.
The match kicked off at 5.45pm and the players were responsible for selling the tickets with the proceeds going to club funds. This was the end of QPR’ second full season as a professional club (the decision to turn professional having been taken in a meeting at St. Jude’s Institute Hall on 28th December 1898) and money was very tight – hence the game being arranged. The England team took the lead through Downing who beat Newbigging, the Scotland goalkeeper.
The half-time score was 2-0 to England after Humphrey had added a second goal after the ball rebounded off Newbigging. Ronaldson scored for Scotland in the second-half and the game finished 2-1 in front of over 3,000 spectators.
After the match the players and officials made the short walk to the William 1V pub on the Harrow Road for an evening billed as “Song, Story and Smoke”. Jock Campbell, Bellingham and Christie sang and the Willesden Chronicle of 3rd May 1901 reported that “the company broke up at a late hour”. Coach Jock Campbell was quoted as saying that he was considering an offer from Third Lanark and that he might return home to Scotland. At the end of the season Rangers left Kensal Rise to move to Latimer Road.
Queen’s Park Rangers 8 Anglo Scots 3 – Thursday 5th May 1938 at Loftus Road:
This was Wally Barrie’s benefit match. Barrie was a right-back born in Kirkcaldy in 1909. He grew up a stone’s throw from Starks Park, the home of Raith Rovers. His first juvenile club was Thornton Hibs and he then signed part-time professional terms with Hibernian. After two years with the Edinburgh club, he moved to London to join West Ham. A year later he signed for QPR in 1932.
Barrie played 157 league games for the R’s plus 42 for the reserves during his six years at Loftus Road. In 1938 the club decided not to renew his contract, but Barrie was awarded a benefit game that saw QPR beat a team of Anglo Scots 8-3.
Queen’s Park Rangers Youth 1 Scotland Youth 1 – Wednesday 27th March 1968 at Loftus Road:
QPR line-up: Kelly, Finch, Gillard, Sibley, Moughton, Wilson, Wallis, Glover, Clarke, Sanderson, Barrett
The match was billed as a QPR Youth v Scotland Youth game, but a number of older first team players were drafted into the R’s side due to injury. Wilson scored for Rangers in the 1-1 draw. Gerry Francis was included on the team sheet but did not play. Seven years later Francis had what was undoubtedly his best game for the England team when he scored 2 goals versus Scotland in the 5-1 win at Wembley.
The Rangers goalkeeper Mike Kelly went on to coach England from 1984 to 1990 and he also married Pat Clement, the QPR and England player Dave Clement’s widow after his tragic suicide in 1982.
The Scotland team included Asa Hartford and Tommy Craig, who both went on to become full-internationals.
QPR players who became Scotland Internationals:
The two QPR players who made their Scotland debuts as QPR players and who went on to make the most appearances for Scotland and Queen’s Park Rangers are Jamie Mackie and Don Masson.
Don Masson was 29-years-old before he gained the first of his 17 Scottish caps. Regarded by some of the Scottish media as too old for the national side, eventually Masson’s performances for Rangers during the 1975-6 season proved simply too good for Willie Ormond to ignore and he received his call-up for the Home internationals in April 1976 after impressing Ormond in the 2-0 home win versus Leeds United.
That win left QPR top of the old League Division One – after they had completed their fixtures. Masson made his debut for Scotland versus Wales at Hampden Park, this was two days after Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Wolves that had finally pipped QPR for the title.
Masson scored his first goal for Scotland versus Northern Ireland in his next game and then on 15th May 1976, scored again with an excellent equalising header versus England in a match now largely remembered for Scotland’s second goal when Kenny Dalglish put the ball through Ray Clemence’s legs for the winner that gave Scotland the British Home International trophy.
Jamie Mackie signed for QPR from Plymouth Argyle in the summer of 2010 and was a stand-out player in the Championship winning team in the first-half of that season until he broke his leg at Blackburn in the FA Cup 3rd Round tie. By that time he had already been selected for Scotland, making his debut in Prague in the 0-1 defeat to the Czech Republic and then playing 4 days later in the unlucky 2-3 home defeat to Spain at Hampden. To date, Mackie has achieved 9 caps and scored 2 goals for Scotland.
To close, let’s not forget Joe Jordan. 52 caps for Scotland, currently Harry Redknapp’s head coach at QPR and the only Scotland player to score in 3 World Cup finals – 1974, 1978 and 1982.
Thanks to Steve Russell, Steve Smith, Peter Asher, Peter Lupson (author of ‘Thank God for Football’) and Gordon Macey, for their assistance in producing this article. I hope that keen R’s fans Bill Burnett and Eric Stuart from Aberdeen will be happy come 10.30pm tonight !