#Fitba150 – 2022

On 4th May 2020, The Hampden Collection Team emailed the West of Scotland Cricket Club enquiring about their plans to celebrate the 150th anniversary of international football. They say, ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’, and we set about making sure the world recognised ‘Game One’ as a Scottish invention. We called our programme of events ‘#Fitba150’, and sent this email two years, six months and twenty-six days ahead of 30th November 2022, Scotland’s Patron Saint’s Day, St Andrew.

Remember those numbers; they are important.

Scotland has played the beautiful game for over six hundred years; and football became so popular, King James I of Scotland banned it. Archery boards were set up at the end of each village to promote military training and stamp out the rise of football, with a fine levied of 4d or 4 pence for any man, woman or child, who defied the King’s order. Any other sport may have died, but in Scotland, this sport thrived and embedded itself in the population’s bloodstream.

Many reading this article will be wondering what year did this take place?

This ban took place in medieval Scotland. A country steeped in footballing tradition, where you will find the following world’s first:

The first time football is mentioned in law was in Scotland: The Football Act of 1424

The world’s oldest football is showcased at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum, dating from the 1540s, after being found during renovations of the Queen’s Chamber of Stirling Castle in the 1980s.

The earliest record of women’s football is when a Scottish Minister records his frustration at parishioners breaking the Sabbath in 1628.

The world’s first rulebook promoting the passing game of ‘fitba’ is called Vocabula, written by Aberdeen Schoolmaster, David Wedderburn, in 1633.

The world’s first football club was created in 1824 by John Hope of Edinburgh. If you are the first, then you must be called ‘The Foot-Ball Club’, and that’s what John Hope called it.

Queen’s Park Football Club organised the world’s first international football fixture; where Scotland played England, on St Andrew’s Day 1872.

The first unofficial women’s international football match was held at Easter Road, Edinburgh in 1881, where Scotland played England.

Scots set up the first three football leagues in the world:

William McGregor, Braco Perthshire – English Football League in 1888

Peter Fairly, Renton, Dunbartonshire – Scottish Football League in 1890

Alexander Watson Hutton, Gorbals, Glasgow – Argentinian Association Football League in 1893

The first official women’s international football match is held at Ravenscraig Park, Greenock in 1972; where Scotland played England.

All these footballing trailblazers come from a country of 5 million, representing 0.06% of the world’s footballing nation of 3.5 billion. These facts are lost in the spin of today’s ‘Planet Soccer’, where everyone consumes their football through two other Scottish inventions – the telephone and the television. When today’s children look for the home of the world’s biggest sporting phenomenon, there is only one place they need to find it.

Scotland is the home of football.

But this is a story you may never have heard. The greatest story never told. Over 14 days of Scotch Professor Fortnight, our #Fitba150 programme of ‘pals, poets and pioneers’ regaled the story of not just Scottish Football, but World Football. ‘No Scotland, No Party’ – as the Tartan Army sing.

Over four events, we have told the story of the footballing trailblazers, both men and women, dubbed ‘Scotch Professors’, who have fought bans to make history.

We have showcased how Cricket and Football are intertwined at the dawn of association football in Glasgow, and leads to the explosion of the world’s biggest sporting phenomenon.

We have sat in Scotland’s Hall of Footballing Legends and described the birth of the men’s and women’s game through poetry, archaeology and presentation.

We have showcased Scotland’s only footballer to win the World Cup, a legend once called Ross, to cover up her femininity in the male-dominated world of the 20th Century, who defied all the odds to lift titles in France, Italy and a World Cup. Her name is Rose Reilly; the best living example of the Scotch Professor.

We have told the story of the Hampden Parks, those once lost and forgotten, which slept for over a century under a bed of roses, a Bowling Club and a Cricket Club, and why they are the world’s most important football stadiums.

We had one message. When the Hampden Lion wakes; the world will know it.

And so what about the two, two and six. On St Andrew’s Day 1872, Scotland organised a football match at the West of Scotland Cricket Ground with tactics and set a formation of 2-2-6, and faced an England team who went out with using 1-1-8. The Scottish passing and running game, created by Scottish culture, faced an English dribbling game for the first time. The match finished 0 – 0; however Scotland holds the upper hand from the most important draw in footballing history. The Scotch Professors of 1872 ignited the footballing world, and showed how the game could be beautiful. Scotland passed, moved and combined.

Does this sound familiar?

Scotland took this passing and running, combination game to England, Wales and Ireland, before embarking on a global tour of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, USA, Canada, Spain, Australia and Japan. They never stopped, and on St Andrew’s Day 2022, 22 children of Hyndland Primary School reenacted the world’s first international football match, in front of the most celebrated fans on the planet, who were holding their own 150th birthday party. The Tartan Army.

Today’s youth took to the hallowed ground of ‘West of Scotland Cricket Ground’ on their Patron’s Saint’s Day, showcasing the beautiful game as it was intended. Free, fun and inclusive, and played for the sake of playing, forever encased in the world’s most important football team’s motto, Ludere Causa Ludendi. To you and me, the organisers of ‘Game One’ were Queen’s Park Football Club. Queen’s Park is Scotland’s oldest association football club, and the grand architects and master stadium builders of the modern game.

Only one country in the world has the crown jewels of the world’s biggest sport, along with the pioneers of 1872 and 1972, who created era-defining moments of both the men’s and women’s beautiful people’s game. Scotland, and the Scotch Professors. They are the acorns of the world’s biggest sporting phenomenon, and are responsible for a forest of mighty oaks, covering the world in their genius, who subtly integrated their gift into the local culture.

The roots of the forest lead back to Football’s Square Mile, in the heart of Glasgow’s Southside, where the cradle of Association Football rests. One day the UNESCO stars will shine upon it; with the recognition it deserves. We are stopping the proverbial ‘footballing bus’, and The Hampden Collection’s mission is to tell this story over the next decade, and rewrite Scotland back into the football history books, as the founders of the beautiful game. We have created the world’s biggest open-air football museum and we invite the entire footballing nation of 3.5 billion people to walk around it. We will tell you this story, and let you make up your mind.

We must thank everyone who supported us in creating these free events – Clydesdale Cricket Club, Queen’s Park Football Club, Scottish Football Association, West of Scotland Cricket Club, Glasgow Caledonian University, QTV, and the Association of Tartan Army Clubs. We have shown what is achievable with the support of great institutions and a Scotch Professor’s mentality.

And the key message from this tale. We are doing this through the written word and laying down a foundation for everyone to build upon. We know the Scotch Professors in the sky are cheering us on, and guiding us along to tell their story, as they embark on the biggest football comeback tour of all time, and of course, during the first-ever Winter World Cup.

So how do we sum this up? The Hampden Collection Poet-In-Chief, Julie McNeill, penned a poem called ‘Small Acorns’, based on a photo of West of Scotland Cricket Ground taken the night before the big event. 

Never give up. Live out your dreams, and one day they will come true.

Slàinte Mhath from The Hampden Collection Team

Hampden Collection HQ, 
Football’s Square Mile,

Fitba150 – Film & Photo Theatre

Event No. 1 – The Forgotten Hampden – Held at Clydesdale Cricket Club – 17th November 2022

Event No. 2 – The Birth of International Football – Held at Scottish Football Hall of Fame – 24th November 2022

Event No. 3 – The 150th Anniversary of International Football – Held at West of Scotland Cricket Ground – 30th November 2022

Event No. 4 – Rose Reilly Masterclass – Held at Glasgow Caledoninan University – 30th November 2022

And if you think this is cool – then wait till next year!

Thanks to EVERYONE!