Scotland v England was international football’s first fixture – a crowd of 4,000 saw two teams lining up in 1-2-7 and 2-2-6 formations respectively where they would change ends after each goal.
Unfortunately for the fans at the West of Scotland Cricket Ground in 1872, the game finished 0-0 – despite all those attackers.
145 years on, plenty has changed for both Scotland and England – the major one being the fact that these are certainly not the two best teams in the world.
England’s decline from a major force has been gradual. It’s now 21 years since they reached a major tournament semi-final – a very poor return given the money and talent within the English game.
That pales into insignificance compared to Scotland’s, however, who haven’t even qualified for a tournament since 1998 – and have never got beyond a group stage when they have eventually made it to a finals.
While England have underperformed at tournaments, their world ranking has remained steady ever since FIFA introduced it in 1993.
They have never dropped below 21st (in 1995), though their current rank of 13th is as low as the Three Lions have gone since 2000.
Scotland, on the other hand, have gotten worse and worse.
After hovering in the twenties and thirties during the 90s, the disastrous reign of Berti Vogts saw the Tartan Army drop to a low of 86th in 2004 – though they recovered to 14th just three years later.
They now sit in 61st, well below their counterparts from across the border, who they’ll play in Glasgow on Saturday.
That lack of success can be seen in both side’s tournament performances.
Scotland made it to four of the five finals of the 1990s – while they were unable to get beyond the group stages, they were at least able to dine on the top table alongside the world’s elite.
What Scotland fans would do for another tournament visit in the near-future – they haven’t been back since France 1998.
England had two of their best ever performances at Italia 90 and at Euro 96, making it to the semi-finals in each, before twice being denied by Germany.
Since then, however, they’ve failed to live up to their billing, despite possessing a ‘golden generation’ under Sven-Goran Eriksson.
The Three Lions made it to three successive quarter-finals from 2002 to 2006 – but incredibly haven’t won a knock-out game at any tournament since – including a humiliating defeat to Iceland in the last 16 at the Euros last summer.
The gulf between Scotland and England can be summed up neatly by looking at the leagues their players play in.
22 of England’s 24 man squad represent Premier League clubs – and the two who don’t, Ben Gibson and Jermain Defoe, played for Middlesbrough and Sunderland in the top flight last season before being relegated.
Both are likely to remain in the division next term.
Scotland’s shallower talent pool means only seven of their squad are in the Premier League, with a further 11 plying their trade in the Championship.
Unlike the highly rated Defoe or Gibson, it’s unlikely that many of those will be making the step up any time soon.
In Charlie Mulgrew, Scotland even have a League One player, with the former Celtic man turning out for recently relegated Blackburn.
10 of the Scotland squad do play in the Scottish Premiership – though that league is no match for its English counterpart.
|Decade||Encounters||Scottish Wins||English Wins||Draws|
|1970s||11||3 (33%)||7 (64%)||1|
|1980s||10||2 (20%)||6 (60%)||2|
|1990s*||3||2 (67%)||1 (33%)||0|
|2010||3||0 (0%)||3 (100%)||0|
|Pre 1970||86||34 (40%)||31 (36%)||21|
|Since 1970||27||7 (26%)||17 (63%)||3|
|All Time (since 1872)||113||41 (36%)||48 (42%)||24|
So has the tide turned over the past few decades for Scotland?
Over the 113 meetings of these two, Scotland have won 41 (36%) of games, with England edging it at 48 (42%).
Before the start of the 1970s, however, it was Scotland who led on the head-to-heads.
34 of the 86 matches before the start of the 70s went Scotland’s way, shown in Celtic winning the 1967 European Cup with an all Scottish team.
However, it has been one-way traffic ever since.
Just seven of the 27 matches after 1970 have been won by Scotland, with their most recent win coming in 1999 – in a two-legged match that England won on aggregate.
England won their most recent encounter in November 3-0, and will hope for more of the same in Glasgow tomorrow as they attempt to reach next summer’s World Cup.
Victory would put England on the brink of qualification, and surely end any faint hopes that Scotland have – making it 20 years of hurt since the Tartan Army made it to a tournament.
With the gap between the two nations widening, they might have to wait a little longer before getting back to the glory days over the Auld Enemy.