The tournament started as far back as in 1884, at the time of it’s running the oldest competition in international football. To find the first match between England and Scotland you have to go as far back as 1872, and after that a schedule of internationals between the home nations gradually developed.
The games in those days took place between January and April. A tournament of six games between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, later N. Ireland. The talk of a championship came around 1890, but had to wait until 1935 to see a trophy handed over to the winner, winning the tournament.
The British Home Championship also worked as a qualifier for World Cup’s and Euro’s in some of the years after World War II, used for the 1950 and 1954 World Cup’s and for the 1968 Euro’s. The standard of the teams were high and for the 1958 World Cup all Home Nations qualified in a 16 team tournament, which showed the quality of football at time in the UK.
The Championship had it’s troubles over the years with disasters, unrest and hooliganism, pitch invasions and so on, seeing a number of N Ireland home games played in Glasgow and Liverpool instead of being arranged at Windsor Park in Belfast.
The last game of the tournament was arranged in the spring of 1984, Scotland and England could win the tournament if one of the nations won the clash at Hampden Park, but it all ended in a draw, seeing N Ireland as winners on goal difference and surprisingly seeing Wales 2nd with all teams ending on three points.
England won the Championships 54 times, Scotland with 41 wins, Wales 12 and Ireland / N Ireland winning on 8th occasions. The tournament was of course not held during the two world wars, and also not in 1981, due to unrest in N ireland, but besides that held in every year from 1884 to 1984.
A number of Shoot Magazine issues from their start in 1969 until 1984, had great color covers from those memorable games taking place. You often did see debutants also entering the competition and given their debuts in full international football.
Despite losing the importance, with the World Cup’s and Euro’s, getting the attention and the importance, you had the interest and a clash between Scotland and England would never be dull, and full of nerve, with club teammates coming up against each other for those two major nations. It was also a great chance for N Ireland and Wales to see how they could do and compete against those two others and of course being those Davids against Goliats.
In those years from 1969 to 1984 as we could read and collect pictures from Shoot Magazines a number of players covered the first page. In 1970, Danny McGrain and Martin Peters made the cover, in 1972, Peter Lorimer and Roy McFarland covered the front page. Later pictures from those great games were used as covers, seeing the likes of Asa Hartford, Mick Channon and several other former stars of the Home Nations. It was always as we could remember highlights of rivalry.
Football today would probably not allow more games in this particular time of the year with club football given more and more importance, and this would probably be seen as vaste of time, and not of any importance as the players used would be those also playing in those great competitions of Europe and of course other internationals.
A number of games from that particular tournament has great nostalgic affection and one to remember is the clash at Wembley in 1975, when England terrorized Scotland, winning the game 5-1. Another remarkable result came in 1980 when Wales trashed England 4-1, with Mickey Thomas and Leighton James both goalscorers for Wales and Phil Thompson also scoring for Wales, with an own goal on the day.
You could go on and on, and of course find so many highlights that you would like this tournament to return, because it’s of great historical value and to also a path for many stars to the next big stage, Euro’s and World Cup’s.
Since the end of the British Home Championship, England might have seen some rise with a number of great teams reaching as far as semi’finals of the Euro’s and World Cup’s, Wales with that Semi in 2016, and also their single qualification to another championship. Scotland managed with clever management to “keep possession” and play at a number of World Cup’s and Euro’s in the years after, but at the moment seeing great decline on the international scene. N Ireland made it to the 1986 World Cup, and later palying their only finals in the Euro’s of 2016.
As those teams faced each other every season, you seldom see a game between the British Home Nations anymore, and those rare occasions are few. The Rous Cup was arranged for a few years and those games were of course interesting, but the cup fell and as a season event British Home clashes in football became history.
As a tournament, an interesting watch, and of course would have got a lot of attention with rivalry in place, you could easily fancy those games coming back, but with the schedules today and the way of life, hardly thinkable.