Crouch and Sutton take a trip down memory lane to where it all began for international football

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This is where it started, where international football was first played: the West of Scotland Cricket Club in Partick, a burgh in Glasgow‘s west end. 

On November 30, 1872, England played Scotland and the seed for what is now a multi-billion-pound industry was planted. 

There will be razzmatazz against Montenegro at Wembley on Thursday when England celebrate their 1,000th match, but on a dank Friday morning, Sportsmail’s Peter Crouch and Chris Sutton visited the scene of game No 1. Dominic King and Kieran Gill made notes. 

Peter Crouch (left) and Chris Sutton (right) went back to where international football all began

Peter Crouch (left) and Chris Sutton (right) went back to where international football all began

A bronze plaque at the West of Scotland Cricket Ground in Glasgow honours that first match

A bronze plaque at the West of Scotland Cricket Ground in Glasgow honours that first match

HISTORY

HOW IT ALL BEGAN 

Scotland 0-0 England

Scotland (2-2-6): Gardner; Ker, Taylor; Thomson, J Smith; R Smith, Leckie, Rhind, MacKinnon, Weir, Wotherspoon (all Queen’s Park FC). 

Reserves: Broadfoot, Keay.

Selector: Robert Gardner.

England (1-2-7): Barker (Herts Rangers); Greenhalgh (Notts Co), Welch (Wanderers); Chappell (Oxford Uni), Maynard (1st Surrey Rifles), Brockbank (Cambridge Uni), Charles Clegg (Sheffield Wed), Smith (Oxford Uni), Cuthbert Ottaway (Oxford Uni/Old Etonians), Chenery (Crystal Palace), Morice (Barnes).

Reserve: Holden.

Selector: An FA committee.

Umpires: Charles William Alcock (Eng) & Henry Norris Smith (Sco).

Referee: William Keay (Sco).

Attendance: 4,000.

High on the wall of the pavilion is a plaque, marking this proud cricket venue’s place in history. 

Before the conversation starts, Crouch and Sutton study the inscription on it and looking towards what is now the outfield.

SUTTON: You can feel it, can’t you? The history. You try to imagine what it might have been like. I like looking at the names of the players involved. I’ve read accounts of the match. There was a VAR moment apparently… Scotland thought they’d scored but the striker was offside by half a millimetre!

CROUCH: (laughing) I bet England still got booed off!

SUTTON: (looking at an iPad) I’ve found a report of it online. The line-ups say the Scots played 2-2-6 — two full-backs, two half-backs, and six forwards. England played seven forwards and the referee was Scottish!

CROUCH: (incredulous) How on earth did this finish 0-0?!

SUTTON: When I told a friend I was coming here, he told me it was the only ground in the area that was surrounded by a fence. Scotland picked only Queen’s Park players. Just imagine if Scotland had picked players from other areas as well. They probably would have pumped England, wouldn’t they? Do you think it caught on after this? Bearing in mind it was a 0-0 draw, do you think the crowd went away happy?

CROUCH: What’s amazing is you come here, the home of the first international and you try to think about that day. But then you go to a game at Wembley, 90,000 fans and everything that entails. It’s unbelievable how football has evolved.

England's first taste of international football came in Partick, Glasgow, against Scotland

England’s first taste of international football came in Partick, Glasgow, against Scotland

DREAMS

Every child who kicks a ball wants to play for their country one day. They have those aspirations because of what happened on this expanse on Peel Street, tucked in behind rows of Georgian houses. 

The point is not lost on either of these two former England players.

SUTTON: International football is still the pinnacle. Winning the World Cup is the greatest achievement above anything else — above anything you can win with your club. Any young player aspires to play in a World Cup.

My first memory of England was the 1982 World Cup. Bryan Robson scored after 27 seconds against France, didn’t he? The kit… that tight red shirt. 

Terry Butcher played. He was always someone I really looked up to. He was like a god, so to meet and work with him subsequently was so special. What was your first memory?

CROUCH: The 1990 World Cup, all day long. That was what sold football for me, really. I remember it all. Mark Wright’s goal against Egypt, David Platt against Belgium, Gary Lineker’s penalties against Cameroon. Italia ’90 was the best thing. I thought we were going to win it. 

The trip north of the border has brought nostalgia of former England teams out of the pair

The trip north of the border has brought nostalgia of former England teams out of the pair

That made me fall in love with football. Then there was the music. World In Motion — the greatest England song of all time, without doubt. We sing along to Three Lions but World in Motion, with John Barnes rapping, is the one.

SUTTON: Growing up in a little village outside Norwich, as a youngster all I wanted was to play for Nottingham Forest and England. That was what I aspired to do. I never thought I would actually do it, mind. Then I stumbled on my career, got a lot of Under 21 caps, captained them. Then I got my full England cap… and I made a total a*** of it.

THREE LIONS

Sutton was the 1,084th player to represent England when he went on as 79th minute substitute against Cameroon at Wembley (game 740) in November 1997. Rio Ferdinand made his debut as a sub in the same game, replacing Gareth Southgate. 

Crouch became No 1,139 when he faced Colombia (game 828) in May 2005. Their international careers took very different paths.

CROUCH: What happened for you to make an a*** of it?

SUTTON: I refused to play for the England B team. Glenn Hoddle was the manager at the time. I was playing for Blackburn under Roy Hodgson. I came on against Cameroon then in the subsequent two months before the next squad, I played well. I thought I’d be in the starting line-up. Glenn put me in the B squad, so I phoned him up and told him where to shove it. It wasn’t the smartest move, really. I was hot-headed and that was that.

I remember Robbie Fowler in my one game… had he squared the ball for me, as he should have, I would have scored and that might have changed everything! So let’s blame Robbie!

CROUCH: I grew up not far from Wembley. Me and one of my mates used to look at the Twin Towers — you could see it from his top bedroom. So to play there later for England, to see my dad in the crowd… my debut and winning the FA Cup in 2006 were the two proudest days of my career.

Sutton (left, in 1999) admits he regrets his behaviour which cost him a run with England

Sutton (left, in 1999) admits he regrets his behaviour which cost him a run with England

Sitting in the cricket clubhouse, Sportsmail's resident experts reflect on their England careers

Sitting in the cricket clubhouse, Sportsmail’s resident experts reflect on their England careers

My debut was nuts. New York, playing in the Giants Stadium — quite apt for me, actually (bursts out laughing). I felt that was the best way in, away on an end-of-season tour. Making my debut in our country, in front of everyone, I might have been more nervous.

Out in America, an end-of-season thing, there wasn’t a lot riding on it. It eased me in and that helped. I felt comfortable. I played well. Then the next season I felt ready to go. I was an England player. Sven (Goran Eriksson) was manager. I remember there were two games on the tour. I said to myself: ‘If I can play in both of them, at least I won’t be a one-cap wonder!’ That was genuinely what I thought. Then I got injured for the first one against America! But I managed to play and thankfully went on to win 42 caps. It’s different to anything else, isn’t it?

SUTTON: There are nerves, pressure. I wanted to give Glenn something to think about. After the game, I thought: ‘That’s the start!’ But, as I said, I made a total a*** of it. I try to forget it but it’s a massive regret. I’m absolutely convinced I would have got more caps had I not been so stupid.

CROUCH: You know, I regret how everything finished with England for me, too. I had been in every squad for five years. The season leading up to Euro 2012 I’d done really well. It was my first year at Stoke and I’d scored 14 goals.

Then Roy Hodgson called me. ‘You’re not in the squad,’ he said. ‘I’m taking Andy Carroll but I want you to come to the friendlies because of all the lads in the Champions League final.’

Chelsea were facing Bayern Munich so they had players missing and Wayne Rooney was out, too. He wanted me to come to the friendlies then go home. I said: ‘No. I’m not doing that. I told him to take someone else.’ So that was similar to you, Chris. I should not have said that.

Crouch (right) got his international career started in the United States and achieved 42 caps

Crouch (right) got his international career started in the United States and achieved 42 caps

A kickabout followed with Crouch (left) and Sutton (right) on the famous site where it all began

A kickabout followed with Crouch (left) and Sutton (right) on the famous site where it all began

SUTTON: Regardless of what happened, growing up, playing for England was what every kid wanted to do. I know kids now look at the Champions League but the 1966 team is still the one everybody talks about. Nobody has done it since. That’s still the dream if you’re a young Englishman.

CROUCH: The scale of playing for England at a World Cup is insane, like in Germany in 2006. The whole world stops to watch. I think we felt that. I was sat there in the dressing room before our first group game, looking at all these household names, and I’m thinking, ‘I’m starting here — in a World Cup’. 

That’s possibly the most nervous I’ve been before a match but also the most excited. What a team we had — Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, Joe Cole, Michael Owen. We should have won a World Cup.

SUTTON: Is that something you talk about, when you get together? The regret of not winning a tournament?

CROUCH: (noticeably quiet) Yeah. Going out on penalties to Portugal in the quarter-finals in 2006, when Wayne got sent off. We were better than Portugal. We should have beaten them. There’s definite regret.

For Crouch (middle), there is still regret from England's World Cup exit to Portugal in 2006

For Crouch (middle), there is still regret from England’s World Cup exit to Portugal in 2006

At the 2010 World Cup, I was a spare part. The funny thing was I was given the No 9 shirt. I said to my dad: “Dad, I’m No 9! I can’t believe it! I’m going to be playing.” I was barely used. I felt like I got about 20 seconds in a group game against Algeria. To put it mildly, that was a blow.

THE MILLENNIUM

As England prepare for the next 1,000 games, the two former strikers are encouraged about the future but cannot forget the past…

CROUCH: There are some unbelievable youngsters coming through and I think it is a matter of time before we make an impact in a major tournament. We’re not far off. The FA need to take some credit for this. We were well behind in producing players for a long time.

SUTTON: We weren’t that far away in Russia. That was a great opportunity. The Under 21s were disappointing in the summer just gone.

You look at their line-up and they should have done better. In many ways, the disappointment is a good sign but we just need things to click.

Crouch (left) and Sutton (right) are encouraged by the players coming through for England

Crouch (left) and Sutton (right) are encouraged by the players coming through for England

CROUCH: Coming here, though, makes you think. It’s great having this as part of our history.

Other nations have developed international football — and got better at it than us over the years — but it’s a proud thing to be able to say we kicked off the greatest game in the world.

SUTTON: You’re right. All those World Cups, all those European Championships and other tournaments, it’s all because of what happened here with 22 players on a cricket ground in Scotland. They were pioneers.



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