View site in Scots

Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Hecht an Faw

Scotland stertit efter the Muckle Weir bi follaein Ingland’s heidship in objectin tae Germany an her allies haein membership o FIFA. In 1920 Scotland pullt oot in protest an bade oot til 1924.[1]  Thochts anent ither kintras led the FLS in 1921 tae allou that ony player, regairdless o caufgrund, cuid play for Scotland sae lang as thay haed proven Scots parentage. Scotland first played agin fremmit teams in 1929. In spite o inveets tae play ootland, the FAS didna tak ony up til this year. Efter thay baet Ingland 1-0 in Aprile, the Scots gaed roond the north o Europe atween Mey an Juin o 1929. Thay baet Norrowa 7-3 at Birren, Upslo XI 4-0 at Uplso, stood peels wi Germany 1-1 in Berlin, an baet the Netherlands 2-0. The first fremmit teams tae come tae Scotland wis Austrich in Dezember 1933 an Germany in October 1936. Aw throu the 1920s an 1930s Scots clubs gaed roond ither ‘impire’ kintras sic as Austrailie, Canadae an Sooth Africae forby. Hooanever, ae thing that isna weel kent the day, but haes kythed oot o government reports fae thae times, is that the authorities in Lunnon wantit the Ingland team alane tae forder a Breetish political eemage, an sae played Scotland doun, even whan the Scotland team wis the only team oot the Unitit Kinrik that wis daein weel ootland.[2]  Forby this, the Fitba Associe o Scotland follaed its Soothron marra in bannin weemen’s professional fitba in 1921 an it wadna be until the 1970’s that Scotland owerturnt this (see ablow). The grunds gien wis that the siller made at some weemen’s chairity bawins cuidna be accoontit for (never proven) an that it wisna guid for weemen’s health. Mair nor a puckle fowk haes said sensyne that the men wis jist narra-nebbit an blintrin.

In thir days fitba in Scotland wis fair at its hecht conform til hoo weel the national sqad wis daein, an hoo mony fowk wis comin alang tae bawins. On 17 Aprile 1937 149, 547 fowk watcht Ingland get baet wi Scotland 3-1 at Hampden (an anither 10,000 brak doun the yetts an skailt the grund). This is the warld record for fowk at a bawin. In the same month Celtic baet Aiberdeen 2-1 in the Scots Tassie Gemm afore a thrang o 144,303. This set the warld record for fowk watchin twa club sides. It wis in the early an mid 20t century that mony o Scotland’s maist namely fitba players wis born an reared. The war Jock Stein (1922-1985) a collyer that belanged Burnbank in Sooth Lanrik. He stertit oot wi Blantyre Victoria (1940-1942) an syne played for Scotland (1954), but it wis as manager o the national sqad, in 1965 an again in 1978-1985 that his guid name rests. In fact, he is regairdit the day as the maist successfae Scotland manager. Amang the players o heich repute is Jeems ‘Jimmie’ Baxter (1939-2001) regairdit bi mony as ane o Scotland’s best ever players. He belanged Hill o Baith in Fife an stertit wi Raith Rovers (1957-1960), syne wi Glesca Reeners (1960-1965, 1969-1970), a whilie in Ingland, an played for Scotland (1960-1967, kythin 34 times an pittin in 3 hails). He wis a forrit cheil that likit a rare terr, baith on the grund an aff, an wis great guns wi mony players fae teams contrair. Twa ither bodies that hauds records throu the national sqad is Denis Law (b.1940) the Aiberdeen loun that played for Scotland 55 times an jyntly hauds the Scots international record for hails at 30 alang wi Kenny Dalgleish. Law’s club teams wis aw in Ingland, but he played for Scotland throu the years 1958-1974. Kenny Dalgleish (b.1951) is a Glesca boy an is the maist keppit Scots national player, kythin 102 times for Scotland atween 1971 an 1986. Ae ither kenspeckle body fae thae days wis Jeems ‘Jinkie’ Johnstone (1944-2006) that played 515 times for Celtic, hailed 129 times, an wis votit in 2002 bi follaers o Celtic as the club’s best ever player.

In the 20t century ilka team, in ilka airt, haed its ordnar follaein. In thae days the follaers o a fitba team belanged tae the kintra roonaboot. The war even bardies tae handsel the club an sqad. Ae poyem fae the 1930s, for instance, speaks o the auld follaers (noo deid) o Hert o Midlothian. The fitba makar ‘Passing on the Cemetery of Dalry on a Match Day’ praises the team:

   Rangers' licht blue or Celtic's green

    Would be a sicht for oor sair een

    But Herts alane oor herts could haud

     in the cauld cley that we are clad [3]

The war fitba ballants wrutten for follaers tae sing fae the stauns tae kittle up thairsels an the sqads. Aiberdeen wis aye at the hert o a strang tradeetion o ballants whaur bothy ballants sic as ‘Come Awa The Dons’ wis weel kent at the end o the 1950s:

I’m an Aiberdeen supporter

and I gang tae ilka game

follow them for miles an’ miles

fan they’re awa frae hame [4]

Scotland evitit the Warld Tassie (anither continental novation) for a guid while but did stert tae tak pairt makkin it tae the hinmaist roond for the first time in 1954 afore lossin 1-0 til Austrich an takkin a 7-0 paikin aff Uruguay. In thae days the FAS wis makkin a puckle chenges that wad bring fitba in Scotland tae mair or less the wey it is the day. For instance, the Scots League Tassie wis stertit aff in 1946, an in Dezember 1955 floodlichts for bawins wis alloued tho Hampden haedna nane biggit til 1961. In coorse, floodlicht grunds alloued fitba at nicht, an weekdays, efter the dargin day, an mony fowk walcomed this. The gledsome follaers o Aiberdeen sung:

And, noo Pittodrie’s floodlit

Ye’ll see them day and nicht

And in their nylon sarkies

they mak a bonny sicht  [5]

The end o the 1960s wis a guid time for Scots fitba. The Scots win (3-2) ower Ingland - the warld heids - at Wembley on 15 Aprile 1967 - wis a rare bawin, an ane that follaers o Scots fitba aye thinks back on. Thon Ingland team wis mair or less the same sqad that baet Wast Germany the year aforhaun. In this gemm Jimmie Baxter played at keepie-up while jinkin the Inglis players. In ae blink he stoppit an sut doun on the baw jist tae gar them greet, an ordnar fowk back in Scotland thocht the warld o him. This wis follaed up whan Celtic baet Inter Milan 2-1 in Leisborn in Mey 1967 tae become the first Unitit Kinrik team tae win the European Tassie.

The Victorians wi thair nories o whit wis or wisna ‘proper’ lookit doun thair nebs at the thocht o weemen playin fitba tho a Breetish Ladies fitba club wis aroond in 1895. Helen Matthews an ithers haed furdert weemen’s fitba in Scotland fae 1881, an the war bodies sic as the Leith Ladies team in 1938,[6]  but the ban on weemen pittin on professional teams haed come in fae 1921. In 1971 EUEFA pit the question til a vote an 31 kintras tae 1 votit tae hae professional leagues for weemen. Ae kintra – Scotland – haed votit agin this, tae the shame o the auld, unkennin men in blazers. In 1971 the Scots Weemen’s Fitba Associe wis foondit an the first offeecial weemen’s international wis played oot agin the Auld Inemie at Greenock Morton on 18 November 1972, but Scotland got baet 3-2. Amang the players wis Edna Neillis (1953-2015) an Rose Reilly. Efter thay baith spak oot agin the national sqad’s amateur coach, in 1975, the FAS banned them fae Scots fitba. Syne Neillis played her gemm in Fraunce an Italy but shuid be done mense in her ain kintra as ane o the first weemen in the professional gemm in modren times. In 2016 the Scotland Weemen’s team wis rankit 21st in FIFA Weemen’s ratings. The manager is a Swaid cryed Anna Signeul (b. 1961) that took ower in 2005, but no lang syne she annoonced that she wad staun doun efter the UEFA Weemen’s Euro in the simmer o 2017. The maist keps (191) haes gane tae Gemma Fay (b.1981 Perth) that’s a keppie an the captain. The tapmaist hailer is Julie Fleeting (b.1980 Kilwinnin) at 116 hails an wi 121 keps.

Tho fitba wis aye faurben wi mony fowk, the 1960s an 1970s seen the nummers o peyin hauns drappin aff a guid bittie. Atween 1960-1 an 1980-1 nummers drappit fae 3,987,788 tae 2,527,183.[7]  Mair an mair players wis awa til Ingland whaur thay cuid lift better pey. On tap o this, invasions o grunds wis mair common gettin - an sae wis the fechts atween follaers. In seekin for mair siller the clubs brocht sponsorship intae the League gemm fae 1970, an in 1977 Hibernian wis the first club tae hae adverteezin steikit tae thair players’ sarks. As the 1970s wure on the FLS an FAS stertit tae look at new weys o feshin-on the foonds an laws o the gemm.


[1] Peter J Beck, Scoring For Britain: International Football And International Politics 1900-1939, (London, 1999), p.83.

[2] Peter J Beck, Scoring For Britain, pp.117, 263.

[3] Crampsey, Scottish Football League, p.153.

[4] James Wright, The Bon Accord Colelction Of Bothy Ballads, (Glasgow, 1961), pp.22-23.

[5] Ilk, pp.22-23

[6] Jarvie an Burnett, Sport, Scotland And The Scots,p.13.

[7] Crampsey, Scottish Football League, p.289.