The game was barely on its feet before rivalry between
the clubs of the East and the West began to assert itself. The next stage in
progression was naturally a test between the representative strengths of the
two districts. As a minor adjunct to the International the Inter-city
series, inaugurated in 1872, was an inspiration that at once made a strong
appeal to the general constituency, and for many years after the
installation of the fixture the districts were keen on the match and very
jealous in the maintenance of their reputation. If the East or West section
in the national team looked numerically out of proportion to the assumed
claims of either city, the injured citizens did not hesitate to let the
responsible parties know about it. As the area of selection expanded, the
tension lessened, and in later days it has been easier to appreciate the
influence of the game as a test or trial match than to discern particular
importance attached to the actual result. In this essential the event has
lost prestige, and as an indication of the relative playing strength of the
two cities it has been largely displaced by the intercourse
between the leading club teams of the East and West, and particularly so
when the championship happens to resolve itself into a direct issue between
an Edinburgh and Glasgow team.
Up to 1876 the Inter-city matches were arranged on the
home and home principle. In that year the designation of the spring fixture
was altered to ' East v. West,' so as to admit of a wider area in the
selection of players on trial for the International match. Since then,
Glasgow has been allowed to retain the autumn fixture as the recognised
annual contest between the two cities, and as compensation in some degree
for lack of the major representative events.
In' the 'seventies the teams were usually so closely
matched that scoring was either very low or there was no scoring at all. The
first match took place at Burnbank, the ground of the Glasgow Academicals,
on 23rd November 1872, and was won by Edinburgh. The teams on that occasion
will bear reproduction as a historic reference.
Edinburgh—A. Ross (Wanderers), J. Patullo (Craigmount),
T. R. Marshall (Edinburgh Academicals), W. St. Clair Grant (Craigmount), J.
Junor (Royal High School), J. A. W. Mein (Edinburgh Academicals), and E.
Thew (Merchistonians), backs ; F. J. Moncreiff (captain), R. W. Irvine, E.
M. Bannerman, J. Finlay (Edinburgh Academicals), A. Buchanan, A. G. Petrie,
and M. Sanderson (Royal High School), C. W, Cathcart and J. H. L. M'Farlane
(Edinburgh University), T. Whittington and B. Hall Blyth (Merchistonians),
J. Forsyth and A. R. Stewart (Wanderers), forwards.
Glasgow — T. Chalmers and W. D. Brown (Glasgow
Academicals), W. H. Kidston (West of Scotland), W. Cross and T. Drew
(Glasgow Academicals), J. B. M'Clure (West of Scotland), and J. W. Arthur
(Glasgow Academicals), backs ; J. K. Tod, H. W. Allan, C. C. Bryce, G. R.
Fleming, J. S. Thomson, J. B. Brown (Glasgow Academicals), J. M'Clure, J.
Kennedy, J. P. Tennent, R. Wilson, A. Cochrane, G. Hunter (West of
Scotland), and J. W. Reid (Glasgow University), forwards.
So far as the series had extended, the fifth Intercity
match, on 5th December 1874, was the most remarkable game between the rival
centres. The older generation was being replaced by younger players. The
occasion saw the introduction to representative football of Ninian Finlay
and J. H. S. Graham, then members of the Edinburgh Academy School team,
Malcolm Cross, Nat Brewis, and G. 'Quinty' Paterson, all but one of whom
played a leading part in the drama of the succeeding decade, and he, the
exception—Paterson—made more than a meteoric flash across the horizon.
Paterson's football embodied most of the requirements of
the type of player currently believed to be best adapted for quarter-back
play. Weight deficiency prevented him becoming a great player, yet, in spite
of his handicap, he is entitled to be regarded as a historic figure and a
prominent member of a class who played an important part in early and
middle-time football. A glimpse of the progress of Loretto may be had from
the presence in the Edinburgh team of three old boys of that school, A.
Marshall, S. Connell, and C. Hawkins.
The pitch, already soft, was rendered treacherous by a
fall of rain before the start of play. Nevertheless, the exhibition of
football was declared to have been one of the finest seen in Scotland. It
abounded in stirring incidents. Young Finlay was first to raise the
excitement with a great run, in the course of which he broke clear of the
defence, and seemed to be heading for a score when Malcolm Cross intervened
just in time, and, managing to get hold of Finlay, hung on in spite of the
most vigorous efforts to shake him off.
Cross's great forte lay in the tenacity of his tackling.
Where a bigger man would have bowled an opponent over, Cross tightened his
grip and held on.
A couple of fine runs by W. H. Kidston and J. K. Tod,
neutralised by the strong open work of the Edinburgh forwards, kept the play
in constant motion. Tod had another run from his own ' 25,' but the Eastern
forwards, playing well, were quickly back on the Glasgow line. The Royal
High School forward, A. L. Wood, got across and scored, but too far out for
the success of the kick at goal. Rayner then made a slip, which, but for a
safe tackle of Tod by T. L. Knott, would have been fatal.
That put Glasgow into position, and a vigorous assault on
the Edinburgh line ensued. Ninian Finlay broke up the attack and completely
changed the scene of operations with another great run and drop-kick, which
put the ball in touch a dozen yards from the Glasgow line.
A few minutes later the Edinburgh forwards were
struggling to get over. In the heat of the melee neither set of forwards
stood on ceremony. When C Villars made to struggle across with the ball in
his possession, he was set upon by the defending forwards in a mass, and '
nearly throttled.' They held the fort in those days with doggedness, not to
say desperation. When the siege had been almost raised, 'Quinty' Paterson
took one of his snap drops at goal, and just missed. Carrick, refusing to
touch down, kicked out from behind his own line as much in defiance as
defence. This act, more heroic than discreet, came near to ending fatally,
as the ball was returned and the Edinburgh forwards carried it over the
line, but impetuosity and off-side rendered their effort void.
Time was wearing on, but the culminating point had yet to
be reached. W. Blackwood, one of the Edinburgh full-backs, lost his foothold
on the slippery ground at midfield. Four of the Glasgow forwards were on him
' in a trice,' and G. Heron was off with the ball full tilt and with a clear
field in front. Nothing, it appeared, could possibly prevent a score. The
crowd were already cheering the success, when Ninian Finlay flashed into
sight, and went in pursuit. The shouting increased in volume and the
excitement in intensity as the race between the pair proceeded. Yard by yard
the Academy boy gained, and almost as Heron was stepping over the line his
pursuer was on him, and had him down outside.
One of the old chroniclers described the incident as '
the most thrilling bit of play ever seen on a football field,' and added
that several old International players, Scottish and English, declared they
had never beheld anything like it. Darkness began to fall before the match
was finished, and another slip among the Edinburgh backs threatened danger,
but strenuously as the Glasgow men pressed their advantage they were unable
Some deduction may be drawn from the circumstance that
the most exhilarating game since the introduction of the series should have
synchronised with the advent of so many new and young players. The game is
memorable as being the debut of the greatest half-back in old-time Rugby
football, English or Scottish, Ninian Finlay. The dominating personality of
a schoolboy over old and experienced players, together with the outstanding
influence exerted on the play, induced the generally acceded conclusion that
Scotland had discovered a prodigy.
Malcolm Cross's appearance is equally interesting from
the fact that his football seemed to be the natural complement of that of
Finlay, and in later years the affinity found utterance in current
expression associating in the same breath Malcolm Cross and Ninian Finlay as
unquestionably Scotland's half-back pair. Ten or a dozen years later people
referred in similar terms to the conjunction at quarter of A. R. Don
Wauchope and A. G. G. Asher.
This particular match provides one of the best examples
of the early-day Inter-cities. The game of 1876 is noteworthy as the first
occasion upon which a representative match was played between teams of
fifteen a side. It also witnessed a feat of Ninian Finlay's which was
frequently referred to for many years afterwards. Starting from the
Edinburgh end of the field he beat the entire Glasgow defence, including J.
S. Carrick, the International full-back, who had never previously failed to
bring down his man.
At the thirteenth attempt Glasgow won her first
Inter-city match in 1881. The Edinburgh team had J. P. Veitch at full-back,
and the Loretto schoolboy, G. C. Lindsay, at half-back. The Institution,
then coming into power, were represented by A. Philp, Sorley Brown, R.
Ainslie, R. Maitland, and D. Somerville. Sorley Brown scored for Edinburgh
by a good run, and Robb, a Glasgow Academical forward, before half-time, got
an equalising try for Glasgow. In the second half, D. Y. Cassels, the
Glasgow captain, got the winning try, from which C. W. Dunlop lacked a goal.
The first victorious Glasgow fifteen were: D. W. Kidston (Academicals), A.
J. W. Reid and C. W. Dunlop (West of Scotland), J. A. Neilson (West of
Scotland) and C. Ker (Academicals), D. Y. Cassels (captain), D. M'Cowan, A.
Walker, R. Adam (West of Scotland), R. B. Young, J. Lang (Glasgow
University), J. B. Brown, R. A. Kerr, W. A. Walls, G. H. Robb (Academicals).
This success was preliminary to a lengthened period of
Glasgow superiority somewhat humiliating and rather distracting to
Edinburgh. One explanatory reason of Eastern failure advanced was to the
effect that Glasgow's smaller number of clubs and limited resources in
players enabled the Western teams to operate with a degree of combination
unattainable in the more detached Edinburgh construction. It is certain that
during the best days of the West of Scotland club team the Glasgow sides
worked more cohesively and smoothly than those of the metropolis. All
Edinburgh could claim from the opening of the 'eighties till the close of
the 'nineties was four wins in a run of twenty years. Even in 1883 the
abnormal individual playing strength of a side containing A. R. Don Wauchope,
C. Reid, T. Ainslie, W. A. Peterkin, J. P. Veitch, John Tod, T. W. Irvine,
had enough to do to beat a Glasgow team that contained five International
men to Edinburgh's eleven.
Edinburgh did not win another match till 1887, and then
by exertion of the influence which appeared to confirm the theory of club
domination. The Edinburgh Academicals at the height of their power under C.
Reid had five men, M. C. M'Ewan, T. W. Irvine, A. T. Clay, T. B. White, and
Reid himself in the forward division. A. R. Don Wauchope and H. J. Stevenson
represented high striking force behind the scrummage. R. G. MacMillan and A.
N. Woodrow were on the Glasgow side from which was extracted satisfaction
for previous disappointments by the accumulation of 2 goals and 3 tries,
representing the highest score and the heaviest defeat of the series so far.
The ground of the West of Scotland at Partick held the
dismal reputation as the burial-place of Eastern hopes and prospects for
many years. There are indeed cheerier spots in Scotland than this portion of
Glasgow in the descending gloom of a murky afternoon in December, and among
the many excuses for Edinburgh's repeated failures none were more common
than those imputed to the influence of the pitch at Partick and its
environment. It may be as interesting to mention one or two of the side
issues of the game of 1888 as to record the almost inevitable Glasgow
victory. J. Marsh, one of the trio of Edinburgh 'half-backs,' of whom the
other two were H. J. Stevenson and R. H. Johnston, was a Lancashire man
attending Edinburgh University. Occasionally he played for the University,
but was more closely identified with the Institution. In fact, he was a
regular member of the Institution team. Marsh owns the unique distinction of
having played for Scotland against Ireland and Wales, and for England
against Ireland. In fifty years of football no one has been able to find an
acceptable definition of national qualifications. While the Inter-city match
retained its identity as purely a test between the two cities and before it
assumed the character of a 'Trial' match, there was no compunction about
including English, Irish, or Welsh players if it were thought advantageous
to do so. A score or more of men not qualified for Scotland have played in
the Inter-city game. The most anomalous case of recent time was that of J.
H. D. Watson, who played for Edinburgh, and thereby one would have thought
carried the seal of Scotland as a representative player, yet he took the
field on the English side in 1914. The subject of qualifications is so
interminably interwoven with inconsistencies that it is easier to get into
it than once in to see a way out. Glasgow, in the match in question, played
an old Blairlodge International half-back, W. F. Holms, who was connected
with the West of Scotland, Edinburgh Wanderers, Collegiate, and Clydesdale
clubs. Rugby Glasgow always included Greenock and Paisley. Holms was a
Blairlodge boy of no fixed football habitat.
When Edinburgh won in 1889 Glasgow scornfully imputed the
victory to an accident or to the providential intervention of a miracle.
What happened was that G. R. Aitchison, the old Craigmount boy and Wanderers
quarter, dropped a goal, a thing they said he had never done in his life
before. Some even affected to be surprised to know that he could drop. It
added to the irony of the situation to know that J. D. Boswell, who could
get dropped goals where no other man could, was playing for Glasgow. Exactly
ten years passed before Edinburgh won another Inter-city match.
Edinburgh received a heavy thonging in 1891. M. M. Duncan
was injured and placed the side under handicap, but allowing for this,
Glasgow had the more capable team. It was a first-rate Western forward
division, including three of a very clever type, J. Auld, J. M. Bishop, and
Hugh Ker, and also a very sound Glasgow University International man, W. A.
Macdonald, with J. D. Boswell at the head of affairs. They were still
playing aliens, as represented by R. D. Stokes (Ireland) in the Edinburgh
pack, and F. D'Arcy Thomson (England) in the Glasgow half-back line. C. G.
Newton, an Edinburgh Academical who was playing for the West of Scotland at
that time, was full-back for Glasgow. In the club matches of the time
between the 'West' and the Edinburgh Academicals, C. G. Newton played
full-back for the 'West,' and his brother, D. G. Newton, full-back for the
Academicals. A first-rate pair they were too.
By the middle of the 'nineties the representation had
assumed a decided change, but not the results. J. D. Boswell, H. J.
Stevenson, and the Orr brothers had gone out of the game. G. R. Turner, from
Stewart's College, had come on to the Edinburgh side as full-back. Hamish
Forbes and Robin Welsh of the Watsonians were in the half-back line. W. R.
Gibson (Royal High School) was the forward leader, and the strength of
Edinburgh University football at that time was indicated by the presence of
H. Stevenson (half), Lloyd Roberts (quarter), W. J. N. Davis and Griffiths
(forwards) —all 'aliens.' The Neilson brothers were playing for Glasgow,
also T. L. Hendry and W. Dykes of the Clydesdale, George Muir (Kelvinside
Academicals), R. C. Greig (Academicals), J. N. Millar and J. H. Couper of
the 'West.' The collection may be accepted as a tolerably fair
representation of the players of the time.
A. B. Timms, then playing for the Wanderers, obtained his
first representative honour in the Edinburgh Inter-city team of 1895.
Similarly, Mark Morrison made his debut in the higher grade of football. H.
O. Smith, A. Balfour, and J. Muir maintained the Watsonian forward
connection, and G. O. Turnbull had added one more to the heavy Merchistonian
contribution to Western football. The game is only worthy of record as the
first draw that had taken place in fifteen years. The players were wading
and plunging through snow and slush in one of the most dismal of many dismal
days at Partick.
Two of the most noted 'quarters' of their day, J. I.
Gillespie (Edinburgh Academicals) and L. M. Magee, Irish International,
played together for Edinburgh in 1897. W. P. Donaldson, Lorettonian-Oxonian
and 'West' man, was to have occupied one of the corresponding positions in
the Glasgow team, but was unable to play. The Edinburgh Academicals, very
strong at that time, supplied the full-back, J. M. Reid, two of the three
halves, A. W. Robertson and A. M. Bucher. The Edinburgh forwards had the
worst of the grabbing for the ball in the scrummages. There was no rule at
that time against ' feet up,' and often a quarter had to make three or four
attempts before he was able to get the ball into the scrummage. The Glasgow
team played the smarter game, and their quarters, J. Cameron (Clydesdale)
and J. Wingate (Kelvinside Academicals), to general surprise, outshone
Gillespie and Magee, very largely, however, due to the circumstance that the
one pair was continually in possession of the ball and the other pair had to
get along as best they could without it.
The turn of the tide came in 1898, and synchronised with
the period of Edinburgh Academical-Edinburgh University football which
produced the remarkable International team of 1901. From 1898 up to the war
year, Glasgow had only one win—-that of 1905—and afterwards had to wait
sixteen years for another. At the beginning of the century, the Western
players were competing with very strong back play against which they could
not successfully contend. The same conditions repeated themselves in the
years immediately preceding the war, when the Edinburgh game behind the
scrummage benefited by a strong infusion of the Myreside influence. When
Edinburgh beat Glasgow heavily in 1909 the work of the Watsonian centre, A.
W. Angus, and the Edinburgh Academical, J. H. D. Watson, produced the finest
football in the match and appeared to point to an International wing of
great potency. It was not, however, persevered with, and later Watson was
allowed to pass over to England. Mainly in an endeavour to induce
combination behind the scrummage, Glasgow in 1913 selected the entire
Glasgow Academical back division with the exception of the full-back and the
Glasgow High School International wing player, J. B. Sweet. The experiment
was quite a success, and the work of the Western three-quarters, T. Stout,
J. R. Warren, A. D. Laird, and J. B. Sweet, was rather better than that of
the Edinburgh line. Glasgow would have drawn the game but for a freakish bit
of football that left J. C. M'Callum, from near midfield, to score from a
ball rolling detached and far astray inside the Glasgow '25.'
The 1920 match produced one of the best games that has
been played between the two cities in postwar times. The teams contained
quite an exceptional number of clever players in the back divisions. R. S.
Simpson, E. B. Mackay, W. C. Johnstone, Arthur Browning, and R. H. L. Donald
represent as high a standard as Glasgow has attained at almost any stage in
the series, while on the Edinburgh side conspicuous ability will be
recognised in A. T. Sloan, J. Hume, and E. Maclaren, all of whom
distinguished themselves in International football. For that matter so
likewise did J. W. S. M'Crow, who, however, suffered a rapid decline in form
accelerated by war service. Edinburgh's only superior point in the game was
derived from the work of the half-backs, A. T. Sloan and J. Hume.
After nearly fifty years' association with the ground of
the West of Scotland club at Partick, the site of the Inter-city fixture was
transferred in 1922 to the Glasgow Academical field at Anniesland. A
reversal of fortune followed the change, and after a long interval of years
Glasgow succeeded in winning. It was a very good game, in which the Glasgow
Academical back division, strengthened by the High School wing player A.
Browning, displayed the better football. Edinburgh lost ground in the
half-back play of J. A. R. Selby and Gow Brown, compared with that of J. C.
Dykes and J. B. Nelson, whose success was contributed to by the 'hooking' of
R. A. Gallie. Edinburgh had two good wing three-quarters, E. H. Liddell and
J. H. Carmichael, but they were not well supplied with the ball. Two
well-matched teams of normal Inter-city grade played an even draw in 1928,
but in 1924 an Edinburgh side, ill-balanced and conspicuously weak in parts
both in the scrummage and out of it, was well beaten forward and over-run
behind by a carefully adjusted combination of Glasgow Academical and High
School players. Two of the Edinburgh backs, D. Drysdale at full-back and R.
M. Kinnear, centre three-quarter, alone offered real resistance and stood
comparison with the best of the Glasgow backs.
The game appeared to demonstrate the law of results
applicable to the series that the balance inclines to the city possessing a
successful and dominating club team.