Sport of the Nation
The title of this post refers not to the various degrees of devotion displayed for Les McKeown, Lorraine Kelly and James McAvoy, but to the so called Beautiful Game – football (even now the World Cup 2010 is but a distant memory, this is a game some folk – football widows and widowers alike – may still be fed up with).
Whilst carrying out research for the Portrait of the Nation sport exhibition – Sporting Life – I was stunned to learn how important a role the Scots had in the development of the modern game.
Football in all its forms will be represented in the exhibition – from the festival Ba’ Games of Scotland to possibly the world’s first football club, founded in Edinburgh in 1824 and onwards to the explosion of association football from the 1870s and its subsequent place in the Scottish consciousness as the spectator sport.
Queen’s Park Football Team was the first ‘modern’ club to be formed in 1867. In the 1870s Scottish clubs were formed in numbers and these wanderers, crusaders, rovers and rangers soon found themselves playing for the Scottish Cup from 1873. The world’s first international football match, between Scotland (all of which were Queen’s Park players) and England, was played in Glasgow in 1872 with the result being a 0-0 draw. It was during the course of this match that those first international football spectators and paparazzi bore witness to the combination and passing play of the Scots. This was a more scientific approach to the game than the English technique of individualistic dribbling with the ball and brought the Scots much success in the 1870s and 80s. A large number of Scottish players, known as the Scotch Professors, were drafted into English teams in order to spread this style of play.
The perfect 2010 World Cup Final to bring the Scottish heritage of the game full circle would have been Uruguay versus Spain – the oldest football teams in both these countries were founded by Scots. Other countries where Scots had a major influence in the introduction of the game include Brazil, Argentina, China, Sweden, Denmark, Mexico, Austria, Trinidad and Tobago and Canada. The Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park is a must-see attraction and I must thank Richard McBrearty for all his help in sourcing football images in preparation for Sporting Life.