British Home Championship

From Academic Kids

The British Home Championship (also known as the Home International Championship) was an annual football competition contested between the UK's four national teams, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (Ireland before 1921-1922), from the 1883-1884 season until the 1983-1984 season.



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 practical. To remedy this, the four associations met in Manchester on December 6th 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 they still perform 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 January 24th 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). Initially the winner of the competition was seen as the best team in the world, though as football developed globally this tag was dropped. 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 demise, including the tournament 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 to epidemic levels, the Troubles in Northern Ireland (civil unrest led to the 1981-1982 competition being abandoned) and England and Scotland's desire to play against 'stronger' teams (the English and then Scottish FAs initiated the end of the competition in 1983 by announcing they would not enter after the 1983-1984 Championship). Ironically, the 'weaker' teams that England and Scotland wanted to stop playing excelled in the final Championship: Northern Ireland won it and Wales finished second. The British Home Championship trophy remains at the Irish Football Association's headquarters in Belfast.

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. It has been suggested that a reborn Championship could replace the international friendlies played by the UK teams between competitive fixtures, which some view as pointless. Many see the qualifying competition for the World Cup 2006 (in which England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been drawn in the same group) as an important test bed to the viability of restarting the competition.

Format and rules

The competition was contested with each team playing the other three once each (making for a total of three matches per team and six matches in total). Generally (but not always), the teams would play 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 would play them away the next).

A team would receive 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). From the 1978-1979 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 April 5th 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, incredibly, 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.

1967: Scotland become 'World Champions'

The 1966-1967 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 April 15th. 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 jubliant Scottish fans, who were quick to jokingly declare Scotland the 'World Champions'.

1977: Wembley pitch invasion

Once again, the 1976-1977 Championship came down to the final game between England and Scotland at Wembley on June 4th. Scotland won the game 2-1, making them Champions. Like 1967, a pitch invasion by the overjoyed Scottish fans followed, but it was now the height of hooliganism and things turned nasty: the pitch was ripped up and one of the crossbars was broken. This match, along with the Heysel Stadium disaster, is often cited as the apogee of British football hooliganism.

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 on the UK mainland in Liverpool or Glasgow. The entire 1980-1981 Championship was held in May 1981, which coincided with a large amount of civil unrest in Northern Ireland surrounding the Maze Prison hunger strikes. 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

  • 1883-1884: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1884-1885: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1885-1886: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1886-1887: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1887-1888: Flag of England England
  • 1888-1889: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1889-1890: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1890-1891: Flag of England England
  • 1891-1892: Flag of England England
  • 1892-1893: Flag of England England
  • 1893-1894: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1894-1895: Flag of England England
  • 1895-1896: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1896-1897: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1897-1898: Flag of England England
  • 1898-1899: Flag of England England
  • 1899-1900: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1900-1901: Flag of England England
  • 1901-1902: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1902-1903: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland / Missing image
    Flag of Ireland

  • 1903-1904: Flag of England England
  • 1904-1905: Flag of England England
  • 1905-1906: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1906-1907: Flag of Wales Wales
  • 1907-1908: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1908-1909: Flag of England England
  • 1909-1910: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1910-1911: Flag of England England
  • 1911-1912: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1912-1913: Flag of England England
  • 1913-1914: Missing image
    Flag of Ireland

  • 1914-1919: Suspended due to World War I
  • 1919-1920: Flag of Wales Wales
  • 1920-1921: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1921-1922: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1922-1923: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1923-1924: Flag of Wales Wales
  • 1924-1925: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1925-1926: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1926-1927: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1927-1928: Flag of Wales Wales
  • 1928-1929: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1929-1930: Flag of England England
  • 1930-1931: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1931-1932: Flag of England England
  • 1932-1933: Flag of Wales Wales
  • 1933-1934: Flag of Wales Wales
  • 1935-1936: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1936-1937: Flag of Wales Wales
  • 1937-1938: Flag of England England
  • 1938-1939: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland / Flag of Wales Wales
  • 1939-1946: Suspended due to World War II
  • 1946-1947: Flag of England England
  • 1947-1948: Flag of England England
  • 1948-1949: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1949-1950: Flag of England England
  • 1950-1951: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1951-1952: Flag of England England / Flag of Wales Wales
  • 1952-1953: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1953-1954: Flag of England England
  • 1954-1955: Flag of England England
  • 1955-1956: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland / Flag of Wales Wales / Flag of Northern Ireland Northern Ireland
  • 1956-1957: Flag of England England
  • 1957-1958: Flag of England England / Flag of Northern Ireland Northern Ireland
  • 1958-1959: Flag of England England / Flag of Northern Ireland Northern Ireland
  • 1959-1960: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland / Flag of Wales Wales
  • 1960-1961: Flag of England England
  • 1961-1962: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1962-1963: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1963-1964: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland / Flag of Northern Ireland Northern Ireland
  • 1964-1965: Flag of England England
  • 1965-1966: Flag of England England
  • 1966-1967: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1967-1968: Flag of England England
  • 1968-1969: Flag of England England
  • 1969-1970: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland / Flag of Wales Wales
  • 1970-1971: Flag of England England
  • 1971-1972: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1972-1973: Flag of England England
  • 1973-1974: Flag of England England / Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1974-1975: Flag of England England
  • 1975-1976: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1976-1977: Flag of Scotland Scotland
  • 1977-1978: Flag of England England
  • 1978-1979: Flag of England England
  • 1979-1980: Flag of Northern Ireland Northern Ireland
  • 1980-1981: Abandoned due to civil unrest in Northern Ireland
  • 1981-1982: Flag of England England
  • 1982-1983: Flag of England England
  • 1983-1984: Flag of Northern Ireland Northern Ireland

Total wins

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

See also

Football in the United Kingdom: Matches between the UK teams since 1984

External links

Template:Football in the United Kingdom


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