I’m not religious but I’ve always been happy to celebrate Saint Andrew’s day especially as it doesn’t involve having to buy someone a present. Saint Andrew is also the patron saint of Poland, Romania, Ukraine and Russia just in case you are looking for a team [away from these shores of ours] to support at next year’s Euros. Just for the ecumenical record then, only Scotland and Greece have recently disappointed the man who was one of Jesus’ original squad of twelve.
Of course it was on Saint Andrew’s day in 1872 that the world’s first international football match took place when Scotland played England at the West of Scotland Cricket Ground in the Partick area of Glasgow. The game finished goal-less, thanks in part to the heroics of the Scotland goalie and captain Robert Gardner.
From the outset Scotland wore blue jerseys with a lion on it – there was no room for pink in Partick in those days. Apparently a photographer was arranged but he left without taking any pictures because the players would not guarantee to buy any. A year later, a composite team picture was never printed because several of the England players were pulling funny faces. Those Victorian boys, eh? What japesters…
[Source:Scotland The Team by Andrew Ward].
There have now been over a hundred Scotland-England matches but there has only been a goal-less draw on one other occasion – the concluding game of the British Championship at Hampden Park in April 1970. The Scottish goalie that day was Hearts’ Jim Cruickshank who, as well as looking like a Victorian Gentleman at the time, kept clean-sheets in two of his five other caps. It’s worth remembering that the English forwards in 1970 were Jeff Astle, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst – architect of the two-goal hattrick.
So raise a glass if you will, to Saint Andrew, international football and the memory of players like Gentleman Jim.
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