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Chenery's role in the first football international

November 30 2022

Scotland v England, 1872

Scotland v England, 1872

On the 150th anniversary of the birth of international football, Charles Chenery of the first Crystal Palace was in the line-up for this historic fixture.

England and Scotland met at the West of Scotland Cricket Ground in Partick, on November 30, 1872, and around 2,500 paid a shilling each to watch.

Twenty-two-year-old Chenery was selected in the English attack after an impressive campaign for Palace.

"A consistent player, and an honest worker, dribbles well," noted the Football Annual in 1872.

His teammate Alex Morten was picked to play in goal but the veteran player had to withdraw due to illness.

The England line-up featured others who played for the Palace during its short history: Cuthbert Ottaway – who captained his country – Frederick Chappell, Charles Morice and John Brockbank.

Scotland listed brothers Robert and James Smith, who briefly appeared in the blue and white Palace colours during the 1871/72 season. Their main clubs were South Norwood FC and Queen's Park.

The Scots were inches away from scoring the opening goal when Robert Leckie fired over the tape as there was no crossbar.

However, England twice hit the post in the second half through Chenery and Arnold Kirke-Smith.

Despite Ottoway and Chenery both "displaying splendid dribbling" they were unable to breach the Scottish defence and the match finished 0-0.

ticket "The result was received with rapturous applause by the spectators and the cheers proposed by each XI for their antagonists were continued by the onlookers until the last member of the two sides had disappeared," wrote the Field magazine.

Chenery kept his place in the team for the second international against Scotland at the Kennington Oval on March 8, 1873.

Morten was chosen as the English goalkeeper and captain. Aged 41, he still remains the oldest player to make an England debut and is the country’s second-oldest international after Stanley Mattews.

Chenery marked a fine performance by "naturally and patriotically accepting" England’s fourth goal in a 4-2 win.

There was further Palace representation with Theodore Lloyd, 38, officiating as the referee.

The two nations returned to Partick on March 7, 1874, and this time Scotland ran out 2-1 victors.

Chenery, who lived in Anerley, was selected again and he became the first player to win three caps for England.

Ex-Palace star Robert Kingsford "received a fine kick on the breast and the rebound sent the ball flying beneath the tape" for England's goal.

Palace keeper Arthur Savage and forward Charles Eastlake Smith were later capped for England in 1876.

That year, the first CPFC disbanded. The team were no longer able to play at their Crystal Palace Park home ground.

The club was formed in 1861, and along with providing the early international stars, helped form the FA and reached the semi-finals of the inaugural FA Cup in 1872.

Chenery, who earned his living as a solicitor, also represented London and is Palace's all-time leading goal scorer.

He would not have known at the time but he played his part in kicking off football's greatest rivalry.

*If you have any further information about the people involved with the first CPFC, get in touch at editor@holmesdale.net

Get your hands on an England 1872 replica t-shirt and CPFC 1861 merchandise in our shop.


Further reading on the original CPFC

Palace Pioneers: How the first Crystal Palace FC helped create the modern game. Available for £9.99 on Amazon.

'The first Crystal Palace Football Club 1861-1876' by Stuart Hibberd. For a copy, email: 1861football@gmail.com, £19.95.

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