Tuesday 14 December 2010

140 years ago

140 years ago this last week a significant event took place for our game of Rugby Football, that three months later would ensure that Raeburn Place would be forever recorded in the history of the game. On the 8th of December 1870 a letter (below) appeared in the pages of “The Scotsman” and “Bell's life”, a London magazine, inviting footballers from England to participate in a match played by the “Rugby Rules”. The captains of five senior Scottish clubs signed the letter.


There is a pretty general feeling among Scotch football players that the football power of the old country was not properly represented in the late so-called International Football match. Not that we think the play of the gentlemen who represented Scotland otherwise than very good - for that it was so is amply proved by the stout resistance they offered to their opponents and by the fact that they were beaten by only one goal - but that we consider the Association rules, in accordance with which the late game was played, not such as to bring together the best team in Scotland could turn out. Almost all the leading clubs play the Rugby code, and have no opportunity of practicing the Association game even if willing to do so. We therefore feel that a match played in accordance with any rules other than those in general use in Scotland, as was the case in the last match, is not one that would meet with support generally from her players. For our satisfaction, therefore, and with a view of really testing what Scotland can do against an English team we, as representing the football interests of Scotland, hereby challenge any team selected from the whole of England, to play us a match, twenty-a-side, Rugby rules either in Edinburgh or Glasgow on any day during the present season that might be found suitable to the English players. Let this count as the return to the match played in London on 19th November, or, if preferred, let it be a separate match. If it be entered into we can promise England a hearty welcome and a first-rate match. Any communication addressed to one of us will be attended to.

We are, etc.,

AH Robertson, West of Scotland FC - F Moncreiff, Edinburgh Academical FC - B Hall Blyth, Merchistonian FC - JW Arthur, Glasgow Academical FC - JH Oatts, St Salvator FC, St Andrews

As one might expect, the Association people and FA ignored the challenge, but an acceptance on behalf of the rugby-playing clubs in the London area was received from BH Burns, Secretary of Blackheath. So, in Edinburgh, a committee of six - HH Almond (Loretto), JW Arthur (Glasgow Accies), BH Blyth (Merchistonians), A Buchanan (RHSFP), Dr J Chiene (Edinburgh Accies) and FJ Moncreiff (Edinburgh Accies) was formed to make the necessary arrangements and agreed the match was to be played on the Academical ground at Raeburn Place on Monday, 27 March 1871.

To be continued..............


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