The annual
fixture is replaced by an F.A. Cup match - 
the 3rd and 4th Place Play-Off.

For 15 years the England v Young England fixture was a regular part of the end of season football calendar. The reason why the match was introduced and later replaced by the FA Cup 3rd and 4th place play-off match is best explained by reproducing the notes in the Arsenal programme for the first of those play-off matches back in 1970 -

This is the eleventh occasion we have staged a match for the Football Association on the eve of the F.A. Cup Final, and this time the fixture takes a new form. The idea of a match on this particular date on the football calendar first came about in 1954, it being felt that with people descending in thousands on London en route to Wembley the following day, many of them would welcome a game at which to spend the eve of the Final.

So, 16 years ago, England met Young England here on this corresponding night, and a crowd of 43,000 gave full justification to the experiment. The following year the title was changed to Old England v Young England (the old 'uns cheered to a 5-0 victory by 38,000), but except for 1963 when the match was styled England v The Football League the fixture became permanently one between England and Young England. On five occasions it switch to Stamford Bridge, but otherwise it remained at Highbury.

Inevitably what was basically a friendly representative match could not retain all its early novelty appeal, and after last season's 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge, watched by just over 18,000 spectators, the F.A. decided the time had come to change the style of the fixture. Among suggestions thrown up was a North v South match - that particular argument seems to have been going on among football fans since the game began! - but the idea to gain favour was to stage a "play-off" to decide third and fourth places between the two beaten F.A. Cup semi-finalists.

Tonight's game is the first such fixture, and with it we have, in any case, a North v South clash, just as there will be another at Wembley tomorrow between Leeds United and Chelsea. Whether this becomes a regular fixture will, presumably, how well the fans turn out to support it......

Results of the England eve of Cup Final matches played -

Fri Apr 30 1954 England 2 - 1

Young England


Fri May 6 1955   Old England 5 - 0   Young England Highbury
  1956   No Fixture      
Fri May 3 1957   England 1 - 2   Young England Highbury
Fri May 2 1958   England 4 - 1   Young England Stamford Bridge
Fri May 1 1959   England 3 - 3   Young England Highbury
Fri May 6 1960   England 2 - 1   Young England Highbury
Fri May 5 1961   England 1 - 1   Young England Stamford Bridge
Fri May 4 1962   England 3 - 2   Young England Highbury
Fri May 24 1963   England 3 - 3   Football League* Highbury
Fri May 1 1964   England 3 - 0   Young England Stamford Bridge
Fri Apr 30 1965   England 2 - 2   Young England Highbury
Fri May 13 1966   England 1 - 1   Young England Stamford Bridge
Fri May 19 1967   England 0 - 5   Young England Highbury
Fri May 17 1968   England 1 - 4   Young England Highbury
Fri Apr 25 1969   England 0 - 0   Young England Stamford Bridge

* There was a 'one-off' match in 1963 which took the place of the traditional England v Young England encounter. 1963 was an important year for birthdays - it was the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Football Association and the 75th anniversary of the Football League and so the match became England v The Football League. Playing under the Football League banner the side could have included anyone who played in the Football League including foreign players - although 'foreigners' at the time were players born in the exotic locations of Scotland, Wales or Ireland. In reality though the match was all-English with new England manager Alf Ramsey taking a close look at many of the players who would be taking part in the England and England Under-23 tours of the continent in the summer, but without Manchester United and Leicester players who were in opposition in the following days' Cup Final. Match details -

Friday 24th May 1963 at Highbury, Arsenal FC. Attendance 26,994.
England 3  (Greaves, Hinton, Byrne)
Football League 3  (Hunt, Hurst, Kay)
England: R Springett (Sheffield Wednesday), J Armfield (Blackpool) - sub A Marchi (Tottenham), R Wilson (Huddersfield), R Moore (West Ham), M Norman (Tottenham), G Milne (Liverpool), B Douglas (Blackburn), J Greaves (Tottenham), J Byrne (West Ham), G Eastham (Arsenal), A Hinton (Wolves).
Football League: P Bonetti (Chelsea), K Shellito (Chelsea), G Shaw (Sheffield United), R Flowers (Wolves), B Labone (Everton), A Kay (Everton), T Paine (Southampton), R Hunt (Liverpool), G Hurst (West Ham), J Melia (Liverpool), C Dobson (Sheffield Wednesday).

So onto the new format. As the programme notes for the first F.A. Cup 3rd/4th Place Play-Off match correctly predicted the success of the venture would depend on the paying public. But from the World Cup down play-off matches for the beaten semi-finalists are not popular fixture - it's a match for losers with no real purpose to it. But having said that the first match in the series - Manchester United v Watford - proved to be the most popular although even the crowd-pulling power of Manchester United with Charlton and Best couldn't get the attendance to the level of the last England v Young England fixture. Match details -

1969/70 - Friday 10th April 1970 at Highbury, Arsenal FC. Attendance 15,105.
Manchester United  (0)  2  (Kidd 2)
Watford  (0)  0
Manchester United: Stepney, Stiles, Dunne, Crerand, Ure, Sadler, Morgan, Fitzpatrick, Charlton, Kidd, Best.
Watford: Walker, Welbourne, Williams, Garvey, Lees, Eddy, Scullion, Franks, Garbett, Walley, Jennings.

A year later the northern hordes failed to arrive in South London with the attendance a disaster. The writing was on the wall! Match details -

1970/71 - Friday 7th May 1971 at Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace FC. Attendance 5,031
Stoke City  (1)  3  (Bernard, Ritchie 2)
Everton  (2)  2  (Whittle, Ball)
Stoke City: Banks, Marsh, Pejic, Bernard, Skeels, Lees, Haselgrave, Greenhoff, Ritchie, Mahoney, Burrows.
Everton: Rankin, Wright, Newton, Kendall, Labone, Harvey, Whittle, Ball, Johnson, Lyons, Morrissey.

Following the disappointing attendance of the previous season the tinkering started and the next match was played as a pre-season match at the start of the 1972/73 season as a home match for Birmingham City. Geoff Hurst made his debut for Stoke in the match and it became to first FA Cup match to be decided on penalties.

1971/72 - Saturday 5th August 1972 at St Andrews, Birmingham City FC. Attendance 23,841
Birmingham City  (0)   0
Stoke City 
(0)  0

Birmingham beat Stoke 4-3 on penalties
Birmingham: Cooper, Carroll, Pendrey, Smith, Hynd, Harland, Campbell, Francis, Latchford, Hatton, Taylor.
Stoke: Farmer, Marsh, Pejic, Skeels, Smith, Bloor, Robertson, Greenhoff, Ritchie, Hurst, Dobing.

After the excellent attendance at St Andrews it was a case of same again with the third and fourth places of the 1972/73 season being decided in a 1973/74 pre-season fixture at Highbury.

1972/73 - Saturday 18th August 1973 at Highbury, Arsenal FC. Attendance 21,038.
Arsenal  (0)  1  (Hornsby)
Wolverhampton Wanderers  (2)  3  (McCalliog, Dougan 2)
Arsenal: Wilson, Batson, McNab, Price, Blockley, Simpson, Chambers, Ball, Radford, Kennedy, Hornsby.
Wolves: Parkes, Palmer, Parkin, Hegan, Jefferson, Taylor, McCalliog, Sunderland, Richards, Dougan (sub Hibbitt), Wagstaffe.

Another change to the date for the 1973/74 decider - this time the match was played at the end of the season again but five days after the FA Cup Final had been played. As Leicester stated in the programme notes for the match - 'We make no secret of the fact that we would have preferred the game at the beginning of the next campaign, but unfortunately the Football Association insisted that the issue be settled this week.' It had become a problem fixture and with the attendance just topping 4,000 it was decided it was the last staging of the match.

1973/74 - Thursday 9th May 1974 at Filbert Street, Leicester City FC. Attendance 4,432
Leicester City  (0)  0
Burnley  (1)  1  (Hankin)

Leicester City: Wallington, Woollett, Rofe, Earle, Munro, Cross, Tomlin, Sammels, Stringfellow, Kilkelly, Glover (sub Lee).
Burnley: Finn, Newton, Brennan, Ingham, Thomson, Rodaway, Nulty, Hankin, Noble, Flavell, Flynn.





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