Scotland first to rule the Kingdom

British Home Championship 1923
© Getty Images

Rivalries have always been fierce amongst sides within the United Kingdom, but it was on March 1884 that Scotland could officially call themselves the best of isles, triumphing in the inaugural British Home Championship.

A 4-1 win over Wales at Caithkin Park in Glasglow sealed a perfect tournament for the Scots, having already beaten Ireland 5-0 in the opening game of the tournament, before a 1-0 triumph over England. A brace by John Kay, with additional goals from to Joseph Lindsay and Francis Shaw, saw the title finish in the northern realm of the kingdom.

The tournament ran for 100 years, breaking only for the two World Wars and in 1980/81 due to unrest in Northern Ireland. Scotland won it outright on 24 occasions, while sharing the crown 17 times, leaving them only behind England – with 34 won and 20 shared – in the final standings. It also acted as qualification for the FIFA World Cup™ in 1950 and 1954, as well as part of process for reaching the UEFA European Championships.

It brought some eventful moments for the Scots, including handing England their first defeat in 1967 after being crowned World Cup winners – with a 3-2 win at Wembley also earning Scotland the Home Championship. There was also an iconic pitch invasion following another victory ten years later, where fans famously broke the cross bar of one of the goals.

However, arguably the most memorable was in 1950, and is maybe one Scotland will be less fond of recalling. After FIFA sought to have the British nations competing at their first World Cup, qualifying places were offered for the top two finishers in the Home Championship table. However, the Scottish FA declared that they would only be competing at the global showpiece in Brazil if they were the best side in Britain.

With first place being decided by a showdown between England and Scotland – which since 1890 had become the traditional final game of the tournament – it all came down to a meeting at Hamden Park, Glasgow (though England had announced they would be travelling even if they had finished second). After a goalless first-half, Roy Bentley of Chelsea put England ahead, and when no reply could be found Scotland were forced to wait four more years before making their World Cup debut.