The Scots Football Historians' Group

Today, 30th November 2022, the Scots Football Historians' Group becomes "live". The date is deliberately chosen, for two reasons, both symbolic. The first is that it is St. Andrews Day, with Burns Night one of two that are uniquely both Scottish at home and Scots elsewhere. The second is that, as the twenty-second World Cup with its sixty-four international encounters is taking place three and half thousand miles away , precisely one hundred and fifty years ago the first such meeting of footballing nations took place and in Scotland, in Glasgow at the still existing Hamilton Crescent cricket ground. Indeed, although it was a 0-0 draw, the first of many since, it can easily be argued that without that specific game none of what is taking place over a month in the Middle East would be happening at all. Whilst the birthplace of Association Football, forever England, could even then have raised a representative team in a moment, without opposition the game might have withered on a still very slender vine. That it survived is very largely due to a group of eleven young men, amateurs all, a Glasgow-suburbs club team in essence, who were ploughing a very lone furrow North of the Border, which took on the challenge from the South, were expected to be drubbed, with tactical nous acquitted themselves remarkably and instead sparked an explosion in enthusiasm that continues to this day worldwide. Those eleven young men, 

Robert Gardner

William Ker and Joseph Taylor,

James Thomson and James Smith

Robert Smith, Robert Leckie, Alex Rhind, Billy Mackinnon, Jerry Weir and David Wotherspoon

and with them the story of the SFHG begins. Over the last few years through the worldwide research of a small number of thorough football historians in Scotland and elsewhere a deeper understanding and therefore an alternative interpretation of the history of the "Beautiful Game", of Soccer has emerged. There is no doubt that Association Football was an English invention, an amalgam of several traditions and codes from various parts of that country. But it was in large measure not the versions, albeit to the same rules, that became firstly that of the working-man and was within two generations taken round much of the World and within little more than a third to the entire globe. That was the then very much pre-eminent "Scottish Game", the seeds of which were actually sown on that day at the very end of November 1872. 

We know, through research old and modern, where all of the "Class of 72" were born. They came from a number of corners of our country. We know where all but one of them rest, five in home soil from Cambuslang to Inverness, five like so many of our fellow countrymen in foreign fields, England, the United States, Australia and South Africa. But each one deserves to be properly recognised and physically honoured as a group and individually and that at least in spirit that is what we did last evening. In these modern times where communication is more often than not virtual we all sat down together for the first time and had a dinner to mark the importance of the event of precisely a century and half ago, all those in football that have followed on since and what might be described as our formal foundation. And we did it in the presence of special guests, Colin and Alex Taylor, the great-great grandsons of Joseph Taylor, on the right of the unprecedented full-back pairing in that first Scotland team and later President of the club team that formed it, not the first but arguably the footballing World's most important club team, Queen's Park.    

So what now? The object of the SFHG is three-fold - to continue and enlarge the research done on the Scots contribution to the World game and post it here on-line, to honour again on-line and wherever possible physically, at home and abroad, those many Scots who have made important contributions to that same World game and in Scotland itself to encourage the exploration by all those interested of Scotland's remarkable, indeed pivotal contribution to the same. To do that we begin with the creation of a series of virtual, footballing trails, The History Ways, that can also be physically traced, if you wish and as we have done. See below.  

And finally we hope that our work will catch the attention, as it has already again both at home and abroad, of still more descendants of those same contributors, and encourage them to come forward to accept proudly accolades due to their forebears.


Just under six hundred Scots have until the Second World War, the football history, in which we are most interested, played for the national team. But, of course, not at the same time. They were days when international games took place but in nothing like modern numbers. Today Kenny Dalglish hold the record for appearances with 102 but then it was Alan Morton with thirty-one. His was an international career that lasted twelve seasons but it is just one of the stories that we consider still worth telling. For others, click HERE.


It can never be said that Scots football, that is the game in Scotland, the Scottish game, and the sport as carried by Scots round the globe in head and feet, was a slow burner. It exploded both here and there. Within half a decade of 1872 and one club at home teams were numbered in hundreds and within another five years Scotsmen were playing and, importantly, organising football from Wales to Canada in one direction and China in the other. It was a contagion and stories of its spread are HERE.


PThe story of Scots and football, indeed of Scots and soccer more generally, is littered with games literally of pivotal consequence. The Glasgow international of 1872 was just the first. But there would be many others, several of those of the first World Cups to 1950 and in between many more, in Britain and Europe but notably also in Africa and the Americas, both South and North. As we and football historians around the World uncover more and more detail accounts are added to and can be found HERE.

Where they are

From the World's first official football international played in Glasgow in 1872 and the beginning of the Second World War almost six hundred Scots-born players turned out for the national team plus a number who were born elsewhere. Most lived out their lives on and are buried in Scottish soil and one of our aims here at the SGHG has been to trace and track them and their last resting places so that the contributions of as many as possible to our national game can continue to be recognised, honoured, marked, maintained and, perhaps, become places of quiet pilgrimage. To that end we begin with the six cemeteries/crematoriums, where more are buried or were cremated than any others. They are:

                   Woodside, Paisley                                    Warriston, Edinburgh                           Vale of Leven, Alexandria, Dunbartonshire 

                  Cathcart and Linn, South Glasgow        Dumbarton, Dunbartonshire               St. Peter's, Dalbeth, Glasgow                         

But, of course, as has been the way of Scots from all walks of life movement abroad has been frequent and in many cases permanent so trace and track is not confined to our immediate frontiers. Indeed, two English locations stand out as the final resting place, the burial or cremation, of a remarkably large number of our own. Those places are:

Liverpool and Greater Merseyside

Tyne-, Wear- and Tees-side   

 To see who is to be found where simply click on the individual resting-place and then, for their personal stories, on the names listed.  

History Ways

And across Scotland and, indeed, the World the origins and influences of Scots and their football at home and abroad are to be found everywhere. And sometimes they are in concentrations that can be linked to form a series of trails that will lead you both though histories and places that are unique to our and the World game, to us, ours, you and yours.   


The Highland and Moray Trail

The Gareloch to Cardross Trail

The Leven Trails
The Cart Trails
The Glasgow Southside Trail

The Loudoun Trail


The Anfield Trail

The Tyne, Wear and Tees Trail

The Irish Trail

The Spanish Trail
The Italian Trail

Scottish Sport History   

If there is one there is one web-site that has been an inspiration for what the SFHG is trying to provide, comprehensive research into fitba', our football, at home at abroad, it is Andy Mitchell's Scottish Sport History. Since 2012, so for more than a decade, he has produced a veritable stream of impeccably accurate articles and books on many aspects of Scottish sport and Scots in it. It is he, for example, who rediscovered the grave in London's Kew of Andrew Watson. And, although he is not a member of the SFHG, he is seen by us with regard to football as very much a "fellow traveller". So, if you have not done so, please visit his site now by clicking below on: 

Andy Mitchell's Scottish Sport History

And perhaps youse also have more information to add or personal stories to relate. If so, please contact us on:


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