Sheffield v Scotland : The Inter-City games 1874-1960

‘There can be no shadow of doubt that the two cities who did the most to further the development of football were Glasgow and Sheffield. Following the first international between Scotland and England in Glasgow on 30th November 1872 the Sheffielders were upset at the English selection claiming that it was nominally London with a couple of provincial players thrown in to keep everyone happy…..

‘….. the men of the cutlery capital saw themselves as the driving force of football south of the border and in light of this assumed snub they issued a challenge to Scotland to play them in a match. The challenge was accepted by the Scots, however the Scottish Hon. Sec. made an amendment to the title of the game which took place at Bramall Lane, Sheffield on Saturday 14th March 1874 it was now deemed as Sheffield v Glasgow. It should be noted however that nine of the Glasgow men had lined up against England in the international played seven days earlier…Of the seven games played during the 1870s Glasgow showed themselves the better exponents of the art with six wins following on after the initial game was drawn. The normal practice during this period was games played in Sheffield to come under ‘Sheffield Rules’ and those played in Glasgow under the rules of the Football Association, therefore the visitors were always at a disadvantage….’

Glasgow v Sheffield A tale of Two Footballing Cities 1874-1960 By Tommy Malcolm

Whilst it was never Sheffield up against all of Scotland, it was more precisely a match between the two football associations of Sheffield and Glasgow. This spread of footballing talent can be illustrated by looking at the players and their clubs who played in the first game and the last game.

First Match : Sheffield 2 Glasgow 2 Bramall Lane 14th March 1874 (Wednesday and Queen’s Park dominate)


W.H. Carr (Owlerton), J. Marsh (Wednesday) , T. Buttery (Exchange), W.H. Stacey (Wednesday) ,J. Housley (Wednesday) , W. Wilkinson (Wednesday) , J.C. Clegg (Wednesday) , J.R.B. Owen (Sheffield FC) , J. Hunter (Wednesday) , R. Gregory (Wednesday) , H.E. Dixon (?).


R. Gardner ( Clydesdale), D. Wotherspoon ( Clydesdale), J. Taylor ( Queen’s Park), J.J. Thompson ( Queen’s Park), C. Campbell ( Queen’s Park), J.B. Weir ( Queen’s Park), A. McKinnon ( Queen’s Park), W. McKinnon ( Queen’s Park), H. McNeil ( Queen’s Park), F. Anderson ( Clydesdale), J.R. Wilson ( Clydesdale).

Last Match: Glasgow 5 Sheffield O 16th November 1960 Celtic Park


Haffey (Celtic), Mackay (Celtic) , Haddock (Clyde) , Wright (Partick Thistle), Harvey(Partick Thistle), Clinton (Clyde, Hilley (Third Lanark), Smith (Partick Thistle), Harley (Third Lanark), Gray (Third Lanark), McParland(Partick Thistle).


Hodgkinson (Sheffield United ), Johnson (Sheffield Wednesday), Megson (Sheffield Wednesday), Lambert (Rotherham United ), Madden (Rotherham United ), Houghton (Barnsley), Webster (Rotherham United ), Craig (Sheffield Wednesday), Pace (Sheffield United), Kettleborough (Rotherham United), Simpson (Sheffield United).

The earliest photograph I’ve been able to find for either team is of the Glasgow team from 1880:

The match on 14th February 1880 is interesting because it was played at the Sheaf Field Ground ; a ground that was opened a few hundred metres south of Bramall Lane and in direct competition with the famous old ground. The Bramall Lane committee and the Sheffield FA haggled over the costs to play their games at Bramall Lane, as seen by this extract from their 1879 Minute books:

Today the Sheaf House pitch is covered with a block of flats but the Sheaf House pub remains.

Map Circa 1903

The 4th February 1880 match report of the day described the Sheaf House pitch as having a ‘decided incline’ and 5,000 spectators saw Sheffield lose one nil to Glasgow with a goal from Fraser in the 25th minute. The teams:


Goal, G Gillespie (Rangers), Backs , J. Phillips (South Western) and A Watson (Parkgrove) ; Half-backs, C. Campbell, captain ( Queen’s Park) A. Dunlop (Rangers), J. Campbell (Queen’s Park), J. Watson (3rd Lanark), J. McAdam (3rd Lanark), M. McNeil (Rangers). A Kennedy (?) E. Fraser (?). Umpire, Donald Hamilton.


Goal, H.N. Moss, Backs W.F. Beardshaw, W. Moss, Half-backs, Jack Hunter, captain, H. Fletcher, forwards, W. ‘Billy’ Mosforth, H. Barber, R. Gregory, H. Evans, J. Ewbank, T. Bishop. Umpire W.E. Clegg.

Referee W.P. Dix

Wednesday’s Jimmy Lang (the world’s first ever professional footballer) was probably left out of the Sheffield line up for political reasons as he had played for Glasgow in an earlier match. Author Mark Metcalfe from the website takes up the story:

James Joseph Lang, born in Glasgow in March 1851, a Scottish FA Cup runner-up in 1874, made his debut on Saturday 25 November 1876 for The Wednesday at home against Hallam FC, the second oldest club in the world. The game, which ended 1-1, saw Tom Butler put Wednesday ahead from a pass by Lang who, reported the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent,  “is the celebrated player who has been one of the representatives of Glasgow v Sheffield. He has come to reside here, and will we believe assist the Wednesday team in their cup tie against Kimberworth on Saturday next.” Lang played a very good game against Kimberworth with frequent match references to his dribbling skills. Wednesday won 1-0. Lang, who had lost his eye whilst working at John Browns Clydeside shipyard in 1869, had been given employment by Wednesday official Walter Fearnhough in his Sheffield knife-making firm in Garden Street where with no job responsibilities he was free to concentrate on playing football. He later returned to Scotland to again reach the Scottish FA Cup final with Clydesdale before moving permanently to Sheffield and winning a number of local honours including three Sheffield Challenge Cups. He played in the Owls first FA Cup tie. According to the Sheffield Wednesday historian Jason Dickinson “Lang was a skilful and energetic attacker.” Lang had represented Glasgow in the third annual inter-association match against Sheffield and Hallamshire on 19 February 1876. The game, played at Bramall Lane, attracted a 6,000 crowd who saw the Scots win 2-0 with both goals coming from Peter Andrews, of Glasgow Eastern. For sometime now football historians have speculated whether Andrews was in fact the first paid footballer. Andrews joined Sheffield Heeley and made his debut on Thursday 2 November 1876, away to Thursday Wanderers in the Sheffield (Football Association) Challenge Cup. The subsequent match report in the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent states “The Heeley Club, in addition to their own excellent team, had secured the services of Peter Andrews, one of the Glasgow XI who visited Sheffield last season.” Andrews is later referred to as ‘the cannie Scot” and he clearly plays well in a thrilling match won 5-4 by Heeley. On 30 December 1876 Andrews, who played once for Scotland, represented Sheffield away to London in an Inter-association encounter. Andrew’s side actually met Lang’s in the final of the Challenge Cup on 10 March 1877 at Bramall Lane. Wednesday, 3-0 down at half time, eventually won 4-3 in extra time in a game of great excitement. Earlier in the season both men had played – and scored – for the Sheffield FA side that walloped Manchester FA 14-0 on 24 February 1877. 

The image below shows the representative Sheffield team in scarlet shirts, ready for the Inter-City match of 1882:

The Sheffield FA must have resolved their financial issues with the Bramall Lane committee by 1882 as the 11th of February match went ahead at the usual stadium and for the first time since the Inter-City series had commenced the Sheffield team won (by 3 goals to 1). The team was built around five of the Wednesday team who had reached the FA Cup semi finals (Tommy Cawley is mis-captioned with Burton Star FC). Sheffield’s goals were scored by Billy Mosforth, Cawley and Marples, with the Scottish goal coming from Wylie.

Glasgow V Sheffield 1899 Hampden Park (Cathkin Park)
Sheffield Line Up (White shirts) :Langley; Massey Middle Row: Hall; Layton; Field; Frith (trainer) Front Row: Haigh; Davis; Hutton; Needham; Spiksley; Crowshaw

Image courtesy of

Glasgow 1 Sheffield 0 – 25 April 1906 Played at Meadowside Park
Image courtesy of Picture Sheffield Archive
Sheffield v Glasgow 21.10.1912 – A 1 all draw

Image courtesy of Picture Sheffield Archive

Sheffield 7 Glasgow 2 14/9/31
Sheffield 3 Glasgow 4 23/10/33
Glasgow 4 Sheffield 1 Ibrox Park 2nd November 1932

In total 68 matches were played in the Inter-City series:
Glasgow: 33 wins (168 goals);
Sheffield: 23 wins (123 goals);
12 draws.

I have the programme from the penultimate Inter- City games played in Sheffield on the 11th November 1959.

The match ended as a one all draw with Kettleborough and Matt Gray scoring.

Having survived the start of the Football League and the two world wars it was fixture congestion that caused the end of the long running series. The advent of floodlight games appeared initially to offer a solution, but it was also a boon for European competition from 1955 onwards and a game that was once considered by Scotland to be more important than matches with Ireland and Wales was consigned to the history books. The last ever match took place at Celtic Park on the 16th November 1960 and 7,000 fans saw Glasgow win by five goals to nil.

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