We board our carriage and head for Kennington Oval via the Vauxhall Bridge. I hand The Morning Post to James Hogg, which contains an excellent match preview, including the names of the ‘English players and Scotchmen of the metropolis’.
“Mr W. H. Gladstone M.P. is most likely to play for Scotland?”, said James.
“Yes, he was born in Wales, eldest son of the current Prime Minister and has Scottish grandparents. The Scotland team is handpicked by the Football Association, live in London and only need a tenuous association with Scotland.”, I replied.
“R. Smith and J. Smith of Queen’s Park, Glasgow?”
My smile widens.
“Yes, James moved down last year and joined his brother in London. Two mighty players of Queen’s Park.”
We arrive at The Oval and clamber out into the rain and strong wind. Charles Alcock’s masterstroke of involving a high profile politician has attracted a large crowd.
As we stand at the side of the pitch, we overhear a conversation, “Three of Scotland’s best players are missing, including Gladstone, who is unable to play due to his Government duties. This should be an English rout.”
My blood boils. This highly anticipated match could turn into a public humiliation.
At twenty-five minutes past 3 o’clock, the match kicked off by England.
I whisper a short prayer.
———————————- © Graeme Brown 2019 ————————————-