Trouble marked beginning of end for Scotland-England game

Ambulance volunteers and police move in when crowd trouble starts during the 1985 game
Ambulance volunteers and police move in when crowd trouble starts during the 1985 game
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The demise of the annual joust between Scotland and England can be traced back to the countries’ 1985 meeting at Hampden. The crowd trouble that flared in the east terracing spoke of a new phenomenon that eventually made the fixture more trouble than it was worth.

In the mid-1980s, English football had a severe issue with football hooliganism. Indeed, the Hampden meeting of the two teams was played against a backdrop of English FA secretary Ted Croker producing a 20-page report outlining that the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s plan for a membership card scheme to combat hooliganism was unworkable.

Football “firms” had become the focus of this disorder. Their modus operandi was to find their way into the areas of opposing supporters in order to start trouble.

At Hampden in May 1985, 300 England fans, said by reports to be flying Union flags and National Front banners and dressed as “casuals” bought tickets for an area that housed 11,000 Scottish fans.

With the game attended by almost 10,000 fewer than its 75,000 capacity, tickets were freely available outside.

These England fans had to be shepherded out of the ground and led to Mount Florida station after coming off the worst in skirmishing that accounted for many of the 85 arrests on the day.

Until the 1980s, English fans tended not to come to Glasgow for games against Scotland but 1985 provided an indication the trip was becoming attractive to many intent on causing trouble.

These factions grew in 1987 and 1989, where the escalation of trouble away from stadium ultimately made staging a essentially meaningless fixture appear irresponsible.