James Smith

James Smith was the elder of the first two brothers to play international football and also to do it in the same match. He was already aged twenty-eight at the time of that game in November 1872. In fact at twenty-eight he was the oldest of all the players on the field that day. 

Born in 1844 in Aberdeen, his Banchory-born father was a gardener for the Earl of Fife first at Braemar, his mother born in Crathie, and then at Innes House in Urquhart by Elgin. It led to him being educated, like his brother and several of Queen's Park's founders, at Fordyce Academy by Banff, from where he first moved to Glasgow for work. There in 1867 he joined on the foundation of the football club in the city's southern suburbs, serving for two years as Treasurer. But at the time of the 1872 game, whilst retaining membership of his and Scotland's first club, he was staying in London, after briefly being Captain moving south in 1871, working as an artist supplies salesman and turning out for South Norwood, which had been founded just the previous year. Indeed in November 1871 he was already listed as a reserves for the fourth of the five unofficial internationals held in London between 1870 and 1872 and as a player for fifth, although in the end he did not take part.  

But back to the official international. In that first one in 1872 he, although with a reputation for impetuosity, was steady but unremarkable yet the return fixture was played the following year he did not feature, his younger brother filling his shoes. But he continued to feature for South Norwood until 1876 and, most importantly, when his brother emigrated in 1873 he took over the roles as the link-man between the English FA in London and Queen's Park and just formed Scottish Football Association. Whilst in 1873 and 1874 no Scots team played in the English FA Cup, Clydesdale, presumably organised by James, entered in 1875 but had to allow none other than South Norwood to walk-over. And in November 1876 Queen's Park itself entered.       

But by then James Smith was dead. Over the summer of 1876, perhaps already unwell, travelled north to the family home, East Lodge on the Innes House estate. And it was there he died of "Brain Disease" and "Apoplexy" on 20th September, to be buried in the Urquhart Burial Ground at the age of just thirty-two.

Birth Locator:

1844 - Aberdeen


Residence Locator(s):     

Fordyce Academy

Innes House, Moray


Grave Locator:

Urquhart Graveyard, Moray


Other Sources:


And there is always Andy Mitchell's inestimable: 

Scottish Sports History


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