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Football Trivia


 First England dismissal

Alan Mullery of Spurs was the first England player to be shown the red card in an international when he was dismissed against Yugoslavia in Florence on 5 June 1968.

Changing Sides

Alexander Morten, the England goalkeeper when they beat Scotland 4-2 in England’s second official international at the Kennington Oval on 8 March 1873, appeared for Scotland in the first unofficial international between the two counties, the 1-1 drawn on 5 March 1870. 

First All-Foreign International

The first football international played without involving a British side was between the United States and Canada, played in Newark, New Jersey, USA on 28 November 1885.  The Canadians won 1-0.

England’s First Game on Foreign Soil

England played their first game on foreign soil when they beat Austria 6-1 in Vienna on 6 June 1908. 

 First 0-0 Draw in Almost a Century

When England drew 0-0 with Scotland at Hampden Park in the British Home International Championships on 25 April 1970, it was the first time they had played out a scoreless draw since their first ever official meeting in 1872.

Frank Wong Soo

On 3 February 1945 Frank Wong Soo was the first player of Chinese extraction to play for England. Indeed, Frank was the first non-white player of any ethnic background to present England long before Viv Anderson, the first “official” black player, made his debut for England in 1979.   Frank was born in Buxton, Derbyshire, in 1914 and was the son of a Chinese father and an English mother.  He was one of the best inside forwards of the immediate pre-war era, certainly during his time at Stoke City, where he formed part of a legendary team that included players such as Sir Stanley Matthews and Neil Franklin. This famous trio played together in the England team that faced Scotland at Villa Park on 3rd February 1945.

Names on Shirts 

England players first wore their names on the back of their shirts during the 1992 European Championships in Sweden.

 Northern Ireland kept the trophy

The 1983-84 British Championship, exactly 100 years after the first, was the last.  Northern Ireland won the competition, only their third outright success ever in the competition, and kept the trophy.  

First player sent off in a Home International

Billy Ferguson was the first Irish player to be sent off in an international, and the first player from any country to be sent off during the Home Internationals, when Northern Ireland lost 2-0 to England. 1967.

Name Change

Frederick Patey Chappell, who was born in England, changed his name to Frederick Brunning Maddison in 1873, having played for England in the first international in 1872 against Scotland.  However, he had already played for Scotland in the 1-1 draw on 25 February 1871, the third unofficial international involving England and Scotland.

Change of Country

Alexander Morten, the England goalkeeper when they beat Scotland 4-2 in England's second official international at the Kennington Oval on 8 March 1873, appeared for Scotland in the first unofficial international between the two countries, the 1-1 draw on 5 March 1870.

Oldest debut

In 1950-51 Leslie Compton became the oldest player to make his debut for England when he played against Wales aged 38 years and two months. 

Four-way tie

The 1956 Home international championship finished in a four-way tie for the first time, all the teams having three points.   

Fastest Goal

Tommy Lawton of Chelsea scored the fastest England goal in history. He scored after just 17 seconds in England's 10-0 friendly win over Portugal in Lisbon on 27 May 1947.

What’s In a Name?

 Manchester United

Manchester United began life as Newton Heath L & YR in 1878 when a group of workers from the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railways formed a football team. The club entered the Football League in 1892 and began to sever its links with the rail depot, becoming an independent company, appointing a club secretary and dropping the "L&YR" from their name to become simply Newton Heath F.C.  In 1902, only a sizeable donation from J.H. Davies, the managing director of Manchester Breweries, saved the club from bankruptcy.   It was decided at one of the early board meetings that the club required a change of name to reflect the fresh start they had been afforded. Manchester Central and Manchester Celtic  before Manchester United was officially adopted on 26 April 1902.


Southampton F.C began life as St Mary’s YMA.  The club was founded in 1885 by members of St Mary’s Church of England Young Men’s Association.  The club occupied The Dell for over 100 years before moving to its existing St Mary’s Stadium, close to the church where it all began, in 2001. 

West Ham United

West Ham United was founded in 1895 as the works’ team from the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.  In 1899, the club joined the Southern League Division Two and in 1900 they became a limited company and changed to its present name. 


Everton were founded as St. Domingo F.C. in 1878 in order that people from the parish of St. Domingo's Church could play a sport outside of the summer months (during which time cricket was played). A year later the club were renamed Everton F.C. after the surrounding area as people outside the parish wished to participate

Aston Villa

Aston Villa Football Club were formed in March, 1874, by members of the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel in Aston which is now part of Birmingham. Villa quickly became one of the best teams in the Midlands, winning their first honour, the Birmingham Senior Cup in 1880. 

Manchester City

Manchester City F.C. was founded as St. Marks (West Gorton) in 1880 by Anna Connell and two wardens of St. Mark's Church, who also worked in the nearby iron factory, in Gorton, a district in east Manchester. In 1887, they moved to a new ground at Hyde Road in Ardwick just to the east of the city centre, and were renamed Ardwick A.F.C. to reflect their new location.  Ardwick joined the Football League as founding members of the Second Division in 1892.   Financial troubles in the 1893-94 season led to a reorganisation within the club, and Ardwick were reformed as Manchester City F.C.   


Arsenal were founded as Dial Square in 1886 by workers at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, but were renamed Royal Arsenal shortly afterwards. They renamed themselves again to Woolwich Arsenal after turning professional in 1891. The club joined the Football League in 1893 and won promotion to the First Division in 1904. However, the club's geographic isolation resulted in lower attendances than those of other clubs, which led to the club becoming mired in financial problems and effectively bankrupt by 1910, when they were taken over by Henry Norris.  Norris sought to move the club elsewhere, and in 1913, soon after relegation back to the Second Division, Arsenal moved to the new Arsenal Stadium in Highbury, North London; they dropped "Woolwich" from their name the following year.


In 1882 the Hotspur Football Club was formed by grammar school boys from the bible class at All Hallows Church. They were also members of Hotspur Cricket Club and it is thought that the name Hotspur was associated with Sir Henry Percy who was "Harry Hotspur" of Shakespeare's Henry IV, part 1, and who lived locally during in the 14th century and whose descendants owned land in the neighbourhood. In 1884 the club was renamed Tottenham Hotspur Football and Athletic Club to distinguish itself from another team called London Hotspur.


Sunderland A.F.C. was founded by Glaswegian school-teacher James Allan in  1879, to provide "recreational amusement" for the area's schoolteachers, under the name of 'Sunderland & District Teachers Association'. In 1881, in order to relax financial troubles, the name was changed to Sunderland Association Football Club and non-teachers were allowed to join.

Birmingham City

Birmingham City was founded as an amateur club, the Small Heath Alliance, in the Small Heath area of Birmingham, in 1875. The club were successful within local amateur leagues, and in 1885 they turned professional, making their official debut as Small Heath FC. The club was one of the earliest professional teams in the UK, and it was the very first club to become a ‘limited’ company controlled by a board of directors. At that time, they played as members of the Football Alliance, which was unofficially absorbed into the Football League in 1892. Small Heath became founder members of the Second Division (of the League).  The clubs growing importance necessitated a change of name: they became Birmingham City in 1905. 

West Bromwich Albion 

The club was founded as West Bromwich Strollers in 1878 by workers from George Salter’s Spring Works in West Bromwich. They were renamed West Bromwich Albion in 1880, becoming the first team to adopt the Albion. Albion was a district of West Bromwich where some of the players lived or worked.


The football club was originally formed by Middlesbrough Cricket team players to stay fit during the winter.


Burnley football club began life as Burnley Rovers, a Rugby Club, was switched codes in May 1882 to play association football.  They moved to their Turf Moor home shortly afterwards at the invitation of the town’s cricket club, which is still situated next to the stadium. 

Preston North End 

Originally a cricket club in the 1860s, Preston North End turned to rugby in 1875 when they took a lease on a field at Deepdale.  A year later they switched to association football, and in May 188- the club, impressed by the success of other Lancashire clubs who were playing soccer, formally adopted the association code. 

Sheffield Wednesday

Sheffield Wednesday began life as a cricket club when it was formed in 1920 as The Wednesday Cricket Club (named after the day of the week that they played their matches).  A meeting on the evening of Wednesday 4th September 1867 at the Adelphi Hotel established a footballing side to keep the team together and fit during the winter months. In 1882 the cricket and football clubs parted company; the cricket club would later go out of existence in 1925. The football club turned professional in 1887 after pressure from players threatening to defect to other clubs


Barnsely was founded in 1887 by the Reverend Tiverton Preedy, curate of St. Peters Church on the Doncaster Road.  Although a predominately rugby area, the new club attracted support from across the town and in 1897 the St Peters name was dropped.


In 1877 Victoria Football Club was founded under the auspicious of the Rev. James Wayman.  The name was changed to Blackpool St Johns and consisted mainly of the old boys from the school.  In 1887 a dispute among players led a breakaway from St John’s Football Club forming Blackpool Football Club. Blackpool Football Club was formed on 26 July 1887, after a merger with a breakaway group from the local St. John's Football Club.  

Bolton Wanderers 

The club was founded in 1874 by Thomas Ogden, the schoolmaster at Christ Church.  Originally called Christ Church FC, the club changed its name to Bolton Wanderers in 1877. 

Stoke City

Stoke City F.C., considered to be the second-oldest football league club, was formed in 1863, under the name Stoke Ramblers, when pupils from Charterhouse School formed a football club while apprentices at the North Staffordshire Railway works in Stoke-on-Trent.  In 1878, the club merged with Stoke Victoria Cricket Club, it was at this time that they became simply known as Stoke Football Club.  

Football Firsts

Sheffield Football Club, founded in 1857 in Sheffield by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, is now recognized as the world's oldest club playing association football. However, the club initially played its own code of football: the Sheffield rules. There were some similarities to the Cambridge rules, but players were allowed to push or hit the ball with their hands, and there was no offside rule at all, so that players known as kick throughs could be permanently positioned near the opponents' goal. The code spread to a number of clubs in the area and was popular until the 1870s.  Sheffield currently play in the Northern Premier League Division One South.

Queens Park the oldest Scottish Club founded were founded in 1867.

The corner kick was first devised in Sheffield under the Sheffield Rules in1867. It was adopted by the Football Association in 1872.

The invention of the penalty kick is credited to the goalkeeper and businessman William McCrum in 1890 in Milford, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. The Irish Football Association presented the idea to the International Football Association Board and finally after much debate, the board approved the idea on 2 June 1891.  It was introduced in the 1891-92 season. The first ever penalty kick was awarded to Wolverhampton Wanderers in their game against Accrington Stanley at Molineux on 14 September 1891. The penalty was taken and scored by John Heath as Wolves went on to win the game 5-0.   

The two handed throw in was made compulsory in 1883.

Goal nets were first used in 1891.

Numbered shirts were first worn in the 1933 FA Cup Final between Everton & Man City.

Substitutions during English league matches were first permitted in the 1965-66 season. During the first two seasons after the law was introduced, each side was permitted only one substitution during a game. Moreover the substitute could only replace an injured player. From the 1967-68 season, this rule was relaxed to allow substitutions for tactical reasons. 

Archie Gemmill of St Mirren was the first substitute to come on in a Scottish first-class match, on August 13 1966 in a League Cup tie against Clyde when he replaced Jim Clunie after 23 minutes. 

The first official substitute in a Scottish League match was Paul Conn for Queen's Park v. Albion Rovers in a Division 2 match on 24th August 1966. Previously, on 20th January 1917, a player called Morgan came on for the injured Morrison of Partick Thistle after 5 minutes v. Rangers at Firhill, but this was an isolated case and the Scottish League did not authorisze substitutes until 1966 .

First British club to enter the European cup was Hibs in 1955.

The first period of extra time played in an FA Cup Final was in 1875, when the Royal Engineers and Old Etonians drew 1-1.  The Engineers won the replay 2-0. 

The first football team to war shin guards was Nottingham Forest, in 1874. They were invented by their centre forward Sam Widdowson, who wore them outside his socks. 

Interesting Facts...

When dense smog threatened their match against Bolton in November 1951, Arsenal erected fluorescent green sightscreens at both ends of the pitch to make the goals more visible.

Charlie Tully scored direct from a corner for Celtic against Falkirk in the Cup during the 1952-53 season.  The kick had to be taken because the crowd had come on to the pitch, so Tully repeated the feat.  

Floodlights, pioneered by several clubs in friendly matches, were first used in the FA Cup on 28 November 1955 for a second round replay between Carlisle and Darlington at Newcastle.  The first League match to be played under lights was between Portsmouth and Newcastle on 22 February 1956.  The game was held up for 30 minutes when the fuses failed.  The first floodlight League came in Scotland was on 7 March at Ibrox, when Rangers beat Queen of the South 8-0.

Denis Law, at Huddersfield, was the youngest person to play for Scotland at the age of 18. He scored a goal on his debut, a 3-0 win against Wales in October 1958.

Jeff Hall, the Birmingham and England defender, died of polio a fortnight after being taken ill in March 1958.  The publicity surrounding the death of the 29-year-old left-back, who had never lost a game while playing for England, was instrumental in persuading the public to participate in a mass inoculation scheme to combat the disease.  

Joe Baker of Hibs became the first player at a Scottish club to represent England.  He scored in his debut as England beat Northern Ireland 2-1 on 18 November 1959. 

Denis Law’s move from Huddersfield to Manchester City in March 1960 was the first transfer between British clubs to exceed £50,000. 

Borough United, of the Northern Welsh League, and the Welsh Cup holders were the first non-League team to win a European tie when they eliminated Sliema Wanderers in the first round of the European Cup Winners Cup.  They drew the home game 0-0 and then won 2-0 in Malta.

In July 1964 John White the legendry was killed by lightinh at the age of only 27 while sheltering under a tree during a thunderstorm at Crews Hill golf course, Enfield.

Keith Peacock was the first substitute to be used in the League when he came on for Charlton Athletic during their Second Division match against Bolton on 21 August 1965.    At the end of the season the League decided that it was impossible for the referee to decide when a player was genuinely injured and a substitution should be allowed.  So the rules were changed to allow substitutions to be made for any reason. 

Everton bought Alan Ball from Blackpool in August 1966 in the first six-figure transfer between English clubs.   

Mark Lawrenson was the only English-born player in Liverpool’s F.A. Cup winning team of 1986.  Lawrenson was born in Preston.  Ironically he played his international football for the Republic of Ireland.

Totteham Hotspur are not only the sole non-league club to win the FA Cup since the formation of the Football League, but at the celebration dinner in 1901 they tied blue and white ribbons on the handles of the trophy, a custom which has since become a tradition.

Aston Villa played their first-ever game in March 1875 against a rugby team called Aston Brook St Mary’s. One half was played under rugby rules, the other under Association football rules.

Doncaster Rovers were originally formed in 1879 to play a match against the Yorkshire Institute for the Deaf and Dumb.

James Henry Forrest, who played for Blackburn Rovers from 1884 to 1890, was the first professional footballer to play for England against Scotland. 

The referee’s whistle, the Acme Thunderer, invented by Birmingham toolmaker Joseph Hudson in 1884, is still used to this day.

The first goal in League football is generally considered to be by Jack Gordon of Preston North End – though some dispute this as their opening match of the first Football League season on 8 September 1888 started three-quarters of an hour after the other matches.

Goal nets were designed by an engineer from Liverpool called John Alexander Brodie.  The first time nets were used for the goals in an FA Cup Final was 1891.

AC Milan was founded by Englishman Alfred Edwards in 1899.  They still keep the English version of the name Milan rather than the Italian ‘Milano’.

When Liverpool won the League in 1906, they became the first team to secure the Championship having been promoted the year before. 

Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow, which opened in 1903, was the largest stadium until 1950 when the massive Maracana was built in Rio de Janeiro.  

The first live televised match in England was played between Blackpool and Bolton at Bloomfield Park on 9 September 1960.  Bolton won 1-0.

Substitutes for injuries were first introduced for League matches in 1965.  In August 1965 Bob Knox became the first substitute to score a league goal when he came on for Barrow against Wrexham.  Later that season Knox also replaced an injured goalkeeper and became the first substitute to save a penalty. 

The first substitute in an FA Cup Final was West Bromwich Albion’s Dennis Clarke who replaced team mate Tony Kaye in the Midland club’s 1-0 win over Everton in 1968. 

George Best used television evidence to show why he should avoid suspension at an FA disciplinary hearing in 1971.  This was the first time a player used TV footage to escape a band. 

The first match to be decided on penalties in England was the semi-final of the Watney Cup between Hull City and Manchester United on 5 August 1970.  The game finished 1-1 and United ended up winning 4-3 on penalties.

Former Scottish international winger Jimmy Delaney pulled off a unique treble in 1954 when he won a Cup-winners’ medal with Derry City in Northern Ireland, having already won a Scottish Cup medal with Celtic in 1937 and an FA Cup medal with Manchester United in 1948. 

Northern Ireland enjoyed their first win at Wembley (3-2) on 6 November 1957.

A record crowd for a friendly match, 104,493, saw Eintracht Frankfurt beat Glasgow Rangers 3-2 at Hampton Park on 17 October 1961.

When Frank Saul was sent off against Burnley at Turf Moor on 4 December 1965, it marked the end of a proud and probably unique record for Spurs, who had not had a player dismissed in a League match since 27 October 1928. 

Glasgow Rangers broke the transfer record between Scottish clubs by a massive £40,000 when they signed striker Colin Stein from Hibs for £100,000 at the end of October 1968.

Tommy Docherty managed three clubs in six weeks: he resigned from Rotherham on 6 November 1968 to take over at QPR, but walked out on them a month later after a row with the Chairman, and became Aston Villa’s manager on 18 December. 

The goalless draw between Scotland and England at Hampton on 25 April 1970 was the first in the series since the very first match between the two counties in 1872. 

Trevor Hockey (Aston Villa) became the first Welsh player to be sent off in an international, on 26 September 1973 in Poland. 

Sunday soccer was launched in England on 6 January 1974 with four FA Cup ties, the first being Cambridge v Oldham at 11am. 

The first Irish League football match to be played on a Sunday took place on 7 September 2008. The 2,500 spectators saw Glentoran beat Banger 1-0.

Albert Tennant signed on for Chelsea in November 1934, and made his League debut in May 1947. 

Juventus adopted their famous black and white stripes in 1903 after one of their committee members visited England saw Notts County turn out in those colours. 

In April 1908 Newcastle United fan Gladstone Adams  drove down to Wembley in a 1904 Daracq-Caron motor car, to see his team play against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup final. On the way back from the cup final, snow kept getting on the windscreen and Gladstone had to keep getting out of the car to clear it. This experience led to his invention of the windscreen wiper. 

When Rangers lost 3-2 to Hibs in the Scottish Cup quarter-final in 1896, keeper John Bell took it very personally.  Blaming himself for the defeat he changed without speaking to anyone, and walked away from the ground, never to return.

In 1892 Aston Villa keeper Dunning found an unique way of wasting time as Stoke, who were desperately seeking an equaliser, were awarded a penalty.  Dunning kicked the ball out of the ground.  By the time it was retrieved, the referee had had to blow for time.  The rules were subsequently changed to permit an extension of time to allow penalties to be taken.


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