On This Day in Football: The British Home Championship kicks off


On this day in 1884, the inaugural British Home Championship kicked off in Belfast with Scotland achieving an emphatic 5-0 win over Ireland.

The 1880s saw international football being played on a regular basis. England and Scotland had already established a footballing rivalry since 1872 and were joined by Wales and Ireland in 1876 and 1882, respectively. In 1882, the governing bodies from the four Home Nations held a meeting to arrange an international tournament. At that time the four countries played football using slightly different rules. Therefore, when matches were played, the away team had to adhere to the rules of the home team. This was neither ideal nor feasible as it presented too many complications.

So the football associations from the four countries met in Manchester on 6 December in 1882 to standardize the rules and establish a uniform set of international laws. This meeting also led to the formation of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body that determines the Laws of the Game.

The inaugural Championship saw Ireland host the first game at the Ulster Cricket Ground in Belfast. Around 2,000 fans were in attendance as Scotland hammered the Irish by 5-0. William Harrower of Queen’s Park put the Scots ahead in the 12th minute before Rangers striker James Gossland doubled their lead in the 30th minute. John Goudie made it 3-0 at the hour’s mark to pile further misery on the Irish. Harrower and Gossland added two more towards the end to complete a 5-0 drubbing.

The Scots went on to win the inaugural competition by finishing two points ahead of second placed England. Wales and Ireland finished third and fourth respectively.

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