1900 British Home Championships

British Home Championship

The British Home Championship (also known as the Home International Championship) was an annual football competition contested between the United Kingdom's four national teams, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (Ireland before its partition) from the 1883-84 season until the 1983-84 season.

Overview

By the early 1880s, the development of football in the United Kingdom was gathering pace and the four national football teams of the UK were playing regular friendlies against each other, with nearly every team playing all the others annually. At the time, the football associations of each Home Nation (The Football Association (England), the Scottish Football Association, the Football Association of Wales and the Irish Football Association) had slightly different rules for football, and when matches were played the rules of whoever was the home team were used. While this solution was workable, it was hardly ideal. To remedy this, the four associations met in Manchester on 6 December 1882 and agreed on one uniform set of worldwide rules. They also established the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to approve changes to the rules (a task that it still performs to this day).

The new rules meant that formal international competitions could now easily be devised. Thus, at the same meeting, the associations formalised the annual friendlies and the British Home Championship - the world's first international football competition - was born.

The Championship was held every football season, starting with the 1883-1884 season (the first ever match seeing eventual winners Scotland beat Ireland 5-0 away on 24 January 1884). The dates of the fixtures varied, but they tended to bunch towards the end of the season (sometimes the entire competition was held in a few days at the end of the season). The rise of other international competitions, especially the World Cup and European Championships, meant that the British Home Championship lost a lot of its prestige as the years went on.

However, the new international tournaments meant that the Championship took on added importance in certain years. The 1949-1950 and 1953-1954 Championships doubled up as qualifying groups for the 1950 and 1954 World Cups respectively and the results of the 1966-1967 and 1967-1968 Championships were used to determine who went forward to the second qualifying round of Euro '68.

The British Home Championship was discontinued after the 1983-1984 competition. There were a number of reasons for the tournament's demise, including it being overshadowed by the World Cup and European Championships, falling attendances at all but the England v Scotland games, fixture congestion, the rise of hooliganism, the Troubles in Northern Ireland (civil unrest led to the 1980-1981 competition being abandoned), and England's desire to play against 'stronger' teams. The fate of the competition was settled when the (English) Football Association, swiftly followed by the Scottish Football Association, announced in 1983 that they would not be entering after the 1983-1984 Championship. The 'weaker' teams that England (and Scotland) no longer wanted to play excelled in the final Championship: Northern Ireland won it and Wales finished second. The British Home Championship trophy remains the property of the Irish FA.

The Championship was replaced by the smaller Rous Cup, which involved just England, Scotland and, in later years, an invited guest team from South America. That competition, however, ended after just five years.

In recent years, there have been many proposals to resurrect the British Home Championship, with advocates pointing to rising attendances and a significant downturn in football-related violence. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish football associations are keen on the idea, but the English association are less enthusiastic, claiming that they agree in principle, but that fixture congestion makes a revived tournament impractical.

Therefore, the Scottish Football Association, the Football Association of Wales and the Irish Football Association, with the Republic of Ireland's Football Association of Ireland, have pressed ahead and are organising a tournament similar to the British Home Championship. The 4 Associations Tournament, between Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, is being launched in 2011.

Format and rules

Each team played the other three once each (making for a total of three matches per team and six matches in total). Generally, the teams played either one or two matches at home and the remainder away, with home advantage between two teams alternating each year (so if England played Scotland at home one year, they played them away the next).

A team received two points for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss. From these points, a league table was constructed and whoever was top at the end of the competition was declared the winner. If two or more teams were equal on points, that position in the league table was shared (as was the Championship if it occurred between the top teams). In 1956, all four teams finished level on points and for the only time the Championship was shared four ways. From the 1978-79 Championship onwards, however, goal difference (total goals scored minus total goals conceded) was used to differentiate between teams level on points. If goal difference could still not separate them, then total goals scored was used.

Famous moments

1902: Tragedy at Ibrox

The Scotland v England match of 5 April 1902 will always be remembered for the Ibrox Disaster of 1902. The match took place at Ibrox Park (now Ibrox Stadium) in Glasgow. During the first half, a section of the terracing in the overcrowded West Stand collapsed, killing twenty-six and injuring over 500. Play was stopped, but was restarted after twenty minutes, with most of the crowd not knowing what had happened. The match was later declared void and replayed at Villa Park, Birmingham.

1950: World Cup qualification

As stated above, the 1949-50 British Home Championship was used as a qualification group for the Football World Cup 1950, with the teams finishing both first and second qualifying. England and Scotland were guaranteed the top two places and World Cup qualification with one match to go, when the Scottish Football Association declared that it would only go to the 1950 World Cup if they were the British champions. Scotland played England at Hampden Park on 15 April in the final game and lost 1-0 to a goal by Chelsea's Roy Bentley. Scotland finished second and withdrew from what would have been their first-ever World Cup appearance.

1967: Scotland become 'World Champions'

The 1966-67 British Home Championship was the first since England's victory at the World Cup 1966. Naturally, England were favourites for the Championship title. In the end, the outcome of the entire Championship rested on the final game: England v Scotland at Wembley Stadium in London on 15 April. If England won or drew, they would win the Championship; if Scotland won, they would triumph. Scotland beat the World Cup winners 3-2. The match was followed by a large, but relatively harmless, pitch invasion by the jubilant Scottish fans, who were quick to jokingly declare Scotland the 'World Champions', as the game was England's first defeat since winning the World Cup. The Scots' joke ultimately led to the conception of the Unofficial Football World Championships.

1977: Wembley pitch invasion

Once again, the 1976-77 Championship came down to the final game between England and Scotland at Wembley on 4 June. Scotland won the game 2-1, making them champions. Like 1967, a pitch invasion by the overjoyed Scottish fans followed, but this time extensive damage ensued: the pitch was ripped up (although it was going to be relaid after the game) and taken back to Scotland in small pieces along with one of the broken crossbars.

1981: the unfinished Championship

The Troubles in Northern Ireland had affected the British Home Championship before, with things turning so hostile that Northern Ireland often had to play their 'home' games in Liverpool or Glasgow. The entire 1980-81 Championship was held in May 1981, which coincided with a large amount of civil unrest in Northern Ireland surrounding the hunger strike in the Maze Prison. Northern Ireland's two home matches, against England and Wales, were not moved, so both teams refused to travel to Belfast to play. As not all the matches were completed, that year's competition was declared void with no winner. It was the only time in the Championship's history, apart from during World War I and World War II, that it was not awarded.

List of winners

Year Champions Second Third Fourth
1883-1884
1884-1885
1885-1886 /
1886-1887
1887-1888
1888-1889
1889-1890 /
1890-1891
1891-1892 /
1892-1893
1893-1894
1894-1895 /
1895-1896
1896-1897
1897-1898
1898-1899
1899-1900 /
1900-1901
1901-1902
1902-1903 / /
1903-1904 /
1904-1905 /
1905-1906 /
1906-1907
1907-1908 /
1908-1909
1909-1910 /
1910-1911
1911-1912 /
1912-1913 /
1913-1914
1914-1915 Cancelled due to World War I
1915-1916
1916-1917
1917-1918
1918-1919
1919-1920 /
1920-1921 /
1921-1922 /
1922-1923
1923-1924
1924-1925 /
1925-1926
1926-1927 / /
1927-1928
1928-1929 /
1929-1930
1930-1931 /
1931-1932
1932-1933
1933-1934
1934-1935 / /
1935-1936 /
1936-1937
1937-1938 /
1938-1939 / /
1939-1940 Cancelled due to World War II
1940-1941
1941-1942
1942-1943
1943-1944
1944-1945
1945-1946
1946-1947 /
1947-1948
1948-1949
1949-1950 /
1950-1951
1951-1952 /
1952-1953 / /
1953-1954
1954-1955
1955-1956 / / /
1956-1957 /
1957-1958 / /
1958-1959 /
1959-1960 / /
1960-1961
1961-1962
1962-1963
1963-1964 / /
1964-1965
1965-1966
1966-1967
1967-1968 /
1968-1969
1969-1970 / /
1970-1971
1971-1972 /
1972-1973
1973-1974 / /
1974-1975
1975-1976
1976-1977
1977-1978
1978-1979
1979-1980
1980-1981 Abandoned due to civil unrest in Northern Ireland
1981-1982
1982-1983
1983-1984

  • When teams finished in a joint position, the level teams are listed in order of best goal difference

Total wins

  • 54 England (including 20 shared)
  • 41 Scotland (including 17 shared)
  • 12 Wales (including 5 shared)
  • 8 / Ireland/Northern Ireland (including 6 shared)

References

See also

External links

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