On St Andrew’s Day 1872, England and Scotland played out a 0-0 draw in the first ever international football match in Glasgow. Tom Simmonds was moved to see how quickly he could link from a player who played in that very first game to a member of England’s Euro 2016 squad, via players who overlapped with each other in an England shirt.
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The youngest player in the first England team was 19-year-old John Maynard, who started up front. Nothing out of the ordinary, except Maynard, at some stage, went in goal. As quixotic as this would seem now, we were a long way from substitute goalkeepers being a thing in 1872, and Maynard obviously wasn’t too shabby, given he kept a clean sheet!
Maynard appeared once more for England, in a 0-3 defeat to Scotland in March 1876. Also in the team was Arthur Cursham, who, like many sportsmen of his era, doubled as a first-class cricketer. An 8-1 win over Ireland in February 1884 saw Cursham overlap with goalkeeper William Rose, who also played in a subsequent 6-1 win over Ireland at the Molineux in March 1891. In that latter team was Cursham’s fellow first-class cricketer Arthur Henfrey.
A 6-1 win for England over Canada in December 1891 was notable for England featuring the noted cricketer, sportsman and polymath CB Fry, though it is outside-right Henry Davis and Henfrey who are the important link here. Davis played in this game and a 4-0 win over Ireland in 1903 alongside two-time Olympic gold medallist Vivian Woodward, who was then England’s record goalscorer (with 29), until Tom Finney overtook him in 1958.
A 9-1 win over the Netherlands in December 1909 saw Woodward line up with left-back Arthur Egerton-Knight, who survived the First World War to play alongside Kenneth “Jackie” Hegan in an amateur international vs France in April 1920. A few months after keeping goal for West Ham in the “White Horse Cup Final” of 1923, Ted Hufton joined Hegan to play in a 2-2 draw with Belgium the following November. Hufton then lined up with Liverpool full-back Tommy Cooper in a 2-0 defeat to Ireland in October 1927.
Cooper was in the XI for Stanley Matthews’ England debut against Denmark in May 1934. Matthews, one of the game’s stellar names, made his final international appearance aged 42 in 1957. He was captained post-war by 90-cap legend Billy Wright. In 1958, Wright joined with 1966 World Cup winner Bobby Charlton for the first time in a 4-0 win over Scotland, where Charlton scored on his debut two months after cheating death in the Munich disaster.
The first time Charlton and Bobby Moore pulled on the Three Lions together was in a warm-up game for the 1962 World Cup vs Peru in Lima. Only three of the players (the Bobbies and Ray Wilson) in this team would start the 1966 final against West Germany, at the end of which Moore lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy.
Peter Shilton remains England’s most-capped player (125 caps). His 20-year international career began with a 3-1 win over East Germany in 1970, which Moore played in, and ended on that night in Turin in a World Cup semi-final penalty defeat to the team on the other side of the Berlin Wall, the same match in which Paul Gascoigne’s tearducts propelled him to worldwide fame. Gascoigne’s well-documented struggles with this level of fame served as an object lesson for David Beckham, who first played alongside Gascoigne for England in a 3-0 cakewalk over Moldova in September 1996 World Cup Qualifier, the first of the 108 caps he would go on to win.
Which leads to the final link, Wayne Rooney, whose place in the current England team is the subject of fierce conjecture. His England debut came in an inauspicious 1-3 friendly defeat to Australia at Upton Park in 2003, in which Beckham was subbed at half time. Rooney went on to announce himself on the world stage the following year at Euro 2004. He, and England fans, will hope that he can wind the clock back 12 years when the real business begins in France.
Can you beat Tom and go from the first international to the current England squad in less than 17 steps?
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