Jonathan Harvey (right) presents the Scotland shirt to James Alfred Smith for display in the Scottish Section office.

Showmen’s International football shirt goes home after 65 years

A very special Scotland football shirt has gone home after 65 years.

The shirt was given to Charles Heal, England team manager, back in 1954 when England played Scotland in Glasgow in the second Showmen’s International.

And now Charles Heal’s grandson, Jonathan Harvey, has returned the shirt to Scotland.

Having inherited the shirt from his grandfather, Jonathan wanted to donate it to the Scottish Section. He subsequently presented it to Scotland’s James Alfred Smith at the Showmen’s British Open golf tournament last year for display in the Section office.

Charles Heal was a founder member of the SSA and the first England manager. The first International was played at Crystal Palace’s ground, Selhurst Park, in 1953 and resulted in a draw.

On the return match in January 1954, Scotland became the first outright winners when they beat England 3-0 on home turf. The match was played at Cathkin Park, Glasgow.

[Click to enlarge images]

The winners took charge of The World’s Fair Challenge Cup which was originally donated by The World’s Fair in 1907 when the company challenged Lancashire and Yorkshire showmen to play a match.

1954 Worlds Fair challenge cup

The World’s Fair Challenge Cup was donated for the first Showmen’s football match in 1907 and was assigned to the International matches for the first International in 1953.

When the first International match was staged, the Cup was assigned to the Internationals and a new cup was commissioned for the SSA Cup Final.

The World’s Fair match report from 1954 states that: “More than three thousand wildly enthusiastic spectators from all parts of Britain watched the match which was contested in a spirited but sportsmanlike manner throughout”.

Scotland were praised for their “iron curtain” defence and for maintaining their “poise and cohesion”.

England, meanwhile, “seemed faster to the ball” and although having a “marked overall advantage in physique” over their opponents, “lacked the determination and spirit that was always evident in the Scottish ranks”.

Scottish captain and left half Smith was the outstanding player and scored the first goal to close the first half 1-0. Outside left Cullis was another Scottish hero who had to switch to the inside after an injury to inside right Harris, but responded by scoring two goals! Final score Scotland 3 – England 0.

Playing for Scotland were: George Merrick (Thistle), Billy White (Hearts), Alex Merrick (Hearts), JR White (Thistle), J White (Thistle), H Smith (Thistle), T Newton (Hearts), GH Harris (Hearts), R Merrick (Thistle), John Codona (Hearts) and D Cullis (Hearts).

The England team were: J Jennings (Western), F Owen (Midland), R Mason (Notts & Derby), S Seldon (Lancs), T Smith (London), V Spencer (Northern), J Murphy (Lancs), G Barwick (Yorks), J Heal (Western), H Harvey (Midland), and T O’Brien (London).

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