Scotland - Founders of Modern World Football

Great Britain v Rest of the World 10th May 1947

In 1946, the Home Nations rejoined FIFA. Small woo. They should have been in at the foundation of the world body but, as it was foreigners who created it and England invented world football - yes they did and everyone knows it - they would not take part.

We start on the 21st May 1904, in Paris. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association was founded by France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Germany sent a telegram but are not considered founding members. The first President was Robert Guérin: a journalist with Le Matin and secretary of the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques. The USFSA had organised the 1st football championship in 1894.

The Home Nations were invited but - guess what? - Lord Kinnaird of the EFA rejected it. I know: you’re as shocked as I am. We know that England was full of Exceptionalism and ‘proud’ of its role as rulers of the world. What was the excuse for the SFA, who agreed to this course of action? A parcel of rogues, as Rabbie Burns would have said.

The Home Nations joined 14th April 1905 and then left again in 1919 because the ‘defeated’ countries from WWI were still in FIFA. They rejoined and then left again in 1928 over amateurism. Without the Home Nations, FIFA had to learn how to do tournaments. If anyone wants to tell me how politics and sport should not mix, now is your chance.

FIFA managed quite well as - guess what again? - other countries were able to run sports clubs, leagues and competitions. Amazing. It is getting boring but - the Home Nations joined - again - in 1946, with FIFA almost bankrupt after WWII. Hampden’s celebration match 10th May 1947 brought everyone together - for the Home Nations to learn that they were no longer top dogs.

A Great Britain team met a Rest of Europe team. Carlo Parola: Juve and Italy defender played that day and gives some idea of the ferment in Glasgow.

‘In the middle of the town one could scarcely move, and the outskirts swarmed with people; Hampden Park was sold out.’

Here comes the kick in the love spuds. Parola calls the opposition the ‘English International team’. BTW they trained at Troon. At least he mentions the ‘deafening crowd’. Even though they lost 6-1, he says the Glasgow football papers claimed him as ‘the first centre-back in Europe’ and lauded his trademark bicycle kick. Apparently Chelsea offered him £15k signing-on fee.

The only Scots starting for the game were Archie Macaulay, Billy Steel and Billy Liddell. The team played in Scotland’s blue. The match celebrated the Home Nation’s return to FIFA after 27 years of sulking. FIFA got the £35k gate receipts. I am also told that this deal meant that the Home Nations joined FIFA as separate countries, when they were nothing of the sort.

The match score is one of the statistics I hate. It tells us nothing, although the keen eyed will note that the Rest of Europe’s goal was scored by Gunnar Nordahl: one of the Grenoli Trio (Gunnar Gren and Nils Liedholm) who powered AC Milan in the 1950s.

Giving History a Sporting Chance