Sunday, October 20, 2013

20 October 1908 - Whoever They Were, They Got Off To A Great Start

On 20 October 1908, Great Britain played their first match and got their biggest win, beating Sweden 12-1 at the London Olympics.

Some dispute exists as to whether the team was truly representative of Great Britain, as it consisted of players exclusively from England (and all were members of the English amateur national team). On the other hand, they wore Union Jacks on their shirts, suggesting that, whatever sporting allegiances they usually held, they were at the Olympics to play for all of Great Britain.

They opened their campaign with a match against Sweden at White City, played in front of a relatively modest crowd of 2,000 (four times that many showed up there for the final). The British team dominated, with goals from Clyde Purnell (4), Harold Stapley (2), Vivian Woodward (2), Robert Hawkes (2), Arthur Berry, and Frederick Chapman, while Sweden's only goal came from Gustaf Bergström. The scoreline remains the team record.

Great Britain followed the win with a 4-0 victory over the Netherlands. That put them into the gold medal match against Denmark, which they also won, 2-0.

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