A ticket stub from the first international association football match: Scotland v. England on 30 Nov. 1872.

Football in the mid-19th century was a scattered, disorganized affair, especially when compared to the institutionalised football organizations of today. England had formed a football association in 1863 and adopted rules that allowed only the goalkeeper to handle the ball, and only then inside his marked area. Scotland, on the other hand, still allowed all players to handle the ball. As the English game became more organized following the FA’s formation, Scotland’s football remained disorganised.

Despite the lack of rules, many Scottish teams began to emerge. The oldest and most well-known of the Scottish teams was Queen’s Park, a team that was founded in 1867 and took the bold step of joining the FA in 1870. At first these Scottish teams played only friendlies, but when the FA staged the first FA Cup in 1871/72, several Scottish teams entered the competition, including: Cowlairs, Partick Thistle, Queen’s Park, Rangers, and Third Lanark.

Queen's Park 1873-74

A photograph of the Queen’s Park FC team of 1873–74.

As the sport of football continued to grow, the call for more uniform rules began to grow as well. The need for established rules became even more necessary with the advent of international competition. The first ever international association football match occurred on 30 November 1872 when Scotland–comprised completely of Queen’s Park FC players–faced England at Hamilton Crescent in Partick, Scotland. The game was played to a nil–nil draw, but it signaled the continuing growth of football.

Within weeks, Queen’s Park FC took it upon itself to place an advertisement in a Glasgow newspaper. Seven clubs responded to the advertisement, and on 13 March 1872 seven of the original eight clubs met to form the Scottish Football Association. The original eight Scottish FA clubs were: Clydesdale, Dumbreck, Eastern, Granville, Kilmarnock, Queen’s Park, Third Lanark, and Vale of Leven. At the 13 March meeting, the seven attending clubs (Kilmarnock posted a letter detailing their intent to join the SFA) resolved together that:

The clubs here represented form themselves into an association for the promotion of football according to the rules of The Football Association and that the clubs connected with this association subscribe for a challenge cup to be played for annually, the committee to propose the laws of the competition.