England Football Online
Contact Us Page Last Updated 12 August 2005

England's Opponents: History

First Matches
Last Matches
First Wins
First Losses


England played Scotland in the first international football match at Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow on 30 November 1872.  The rivalry immediately became an annual fixture.  England had played Scotland seven times in all before they first played another opponent, Wales, at The Oval, Kennington in London on 18 January 1879.  The Wales match, too, promptly became an annual affair.  Three years later, on 18 February 1882 at Bloomfield in Belfast, England first played Ireland and that, too, immediately became an annual fixture, Northern Ireland becoming the opponent after the partition of Ireland in 1921.

The annual matches against the other three home countries were soon formalised into the Home International or British Championship.  It was contested annually from the 1883-84 season through the 1983-84 season with intervals of five and seven years during the two world wars--89 times over 101 years although the 1980-81 competition was abandoned when both England and Wales refused to play in Northern Ireland because of the civil unrest there.  

Not until 1908, when they already had played 94 games, did England meet opposition other than the three home countries in an official international match.  That June England toured Continental Europe, playing Austria twice and Hungary and Bohemia once each.  Another Continental tour, featuring two matches against Hungary and one against Austria, followed in late May, 1909, but that was the end of international play outside the British Championship until after the First World War.

Following a five-year hiatus, the British Championship resumed in October, 1919, but it was March, 1923 before England once again met opposition other than the home countries when Belgium became the first foreign side to visit England.



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