Victorian Football


This fine example of an early football match card, a precursor to the match programme, is from a game played at Hampden Park on 9 October 1875 between Queen's Park and Wanderers. Many of the players on view were Scottish or English internationals, and it was billed by newspapers as an unofficial international match.

Queen's Park were the best and most influential team in Scotland, and were the Scottish Cup champions. It was reported by the London Evening Standard that they had never been beaten. Wanderers were "probably the best English association club", although they were no longer the FA Cup holders. Nevertheless, it was a match that "cannot but be regarded with especial interest".

Among the Queen's Park players were forwards Billy MacKinnon and Harry McNeil, while Wanderers fielded "father of football" CW Alcock and Arthur Kinnaird. According to the Standard, a crowd of 10,000 watched the game, which, if true, would almost certainly make it the biggest-attended game football had ever seen.

The programme card notes that Queen's Park played in black and white stripes, while Wanderers played in white jerseys. In the absence of shirt numbers, the players wore different coloured socks or caps in order to allow spectators to differentiate between them. So the Wanderers player in the cerise and French-grey cap was J Kenrick, and the Queen's Park player in the heather mixture stockings was Robert Neil.

The formations presented on the card are also interesting. Wanderers play a then-familiar 1-2-7 formation, with one back (defender), two half-backs (midfielders), four wingers and three centre forwards. Queen's Park were known to be innovators of "scientific football", and they play a 2-2-3-3 formation, with two backs, two half-backs, three "back-up" forwards, and three "front" forwards.

Play would begin at 3.30 and end at 5, providing a 90-minute playing window with no room for a half-time break. And fans crowding around the pitch were warned: "Please do not strain the ropes".

Queen's Park completely dominated the match, and won 5-0. Wanderers were so overwhelmed that centre forward RL Geaves replaced Harry Chambers in goal. The Standard explained that Wanderers had been poorly represented because "there is great difficulty in getting a team to go so far north."

How did we become football fans? Savage Enthusiasm: A History of Football Fans is the brand new book from Goal Post's Paul Brown, tracing the remarkable evolution of the fan from the earliest origins of the game right through to the present day.
It's available from at the sale price of £10 (RRP £12.99), and from Amazon stores worldwide.

Leave a Comment