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Scotland in the first international football
match at Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow on 30 November 1872. The rivalry
immediately became an annual fixture. England had played Scotland seven
times in all before they first played another opponent,
Wales, at The Oval, Kennington in London on 18 January 1879. The Wales match, too, promptly became
an annual affair. Three years later, on 18 February 1882 at Bloomfield
in Belfast, England first played
Ireland and that, too, immediately became an
annual fixture, Northern Ireland becoming the
opponent after the partition of Ireland in
The annual matches against the other three home countries
were soon formalised into
the Home International
or British Championship. It was contested annually from the
1883-84 season through the 1983-84 season with intervals of
five and seven years during the two world wars--89 times over 101 years although
the 1980-81 competition was abandoned when both England and Wales refused to
play in Northern Ireland because of the civil unrest there.
Not until 1908, when they already had played 94 games, did
England meet opposition other than the three home countries in an official
international match. That June England toured Continental
Europe, playing Austria twice and
Bohemia once each. Another
Continental tour, featuring two matches against Hungary and one against
Austria, followed in late May, 1909, but that was the end of international
play outside the British Championship until after the First World War.
Following a five-year hiatus, the British Championship
resumed in October, 1919, but it was March, 1923 before England once again met
opposition other than the home countries when Belgium became the first foreign
side to visit England.
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