England v Scotland: Is International Football’s Oldest Rivalry Really a Rivalry?

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at Internationaled.org

Published: November 10, 2016

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It’s the oldest rivalry in football. England and Scotland are forefathers of the sport, with the first meeting between the two nations dating back to November 1872. That match (which finished in a goalless draw) was played in front of just 4,000 fans on what is now a cricket pitch. On Friday, the rivalry will resume at Wembley in front of a sold-out 90,000 crowd with World Cup qualification on the line.

Seventeen years have passed since the last competitive clash between England and Scotland, when Don Hutchison’s header gave the Dark Blues a 1-0 win over the Auld Enemy at Wembley, although it was the hosts who progressed from the European Championship play-off on aggregate. Friendlies have been played in the time since, but nothing can make up for the fundamental essence of competition. 



And so Friday’s match will bring an edge to a fixture that has been missing for the best part of two decades. But is international football’s oldest rivalry really still a rivalry? Seventeen years is a long time for a rivalry between two teams to lie dormant. At what point does the rivalry fizzle out for good?

They say familiarity breeds apathy, but in the context of a football rivalry, the opposite is true. Club derbies are so fierce because of two clubs’ proximity, with at least two fixtures a season cultivating the rivalry between them to keep it relevant, to give fans more to throw at each other. The same thing doesn’t usually happen in the international game, especially when two countries go 17 years without facing each other in a competitive setting.

However, the indifference felt by both England and Scotland over their most storied fixture could be diagnosed as a symptom of the two countries’ existential crises as footballing nations. The national teams on both sides of Hadrian’s Wall have suffered in recent times, with a sense of apathy setting in. England and Sc...
Article Source: Bleacher Report - International Football

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