Queen’s Park FC in Copenhagen, 1898–1903: Paradoxes in Early Transnational Amateurism

Matthew L. McDowell
University of Edinburgh

matt-mcdowellThis article will examine the very early years of international club relationships in association football, in particular the tours of Denmark made by Glasgow’s Queen’s Park Football Club during the summers of 1898, 1900 and 1903. These were the years running up to the 1904 formation of La Féderation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), and the initiation of serious attempts to govern the sport internationally (Tomlinson 2000: 55-71). While some Anglophone historians have briefly discussed the British connection with regard to the diffusion of the association game to Denmark, this piece nevertheless seeks to give a fuller account of the early interactions of British and Danish football, specifically the first visits of Queen’s Park to Copenhagen. These visits were widely viewed as successful by British and Danish commentators, but they nevertheless transmitted paradoxical messages in what was ostensibly a celebration of amateur sport.

This article features transnational research, and will begin by examining recent precedents for bilingual research in sports history and sports studies. It will then examine the origin “stories” of Scottish/British and Danish football, as well as the state of British and Danish amateurism during the period: given the business and educational connections between the UK and Denmark, both were inevitably intertwined. It will then analyse the tours chronologically: first, the 1898 visit of Queen’s Park to Copenhagen, the first recorded time a Scottish club visited continental Europe. QP were invited to give an exhibition of football with a Danish select team at the International Festival of Sports and Gymnastics (Den Internationale Gymnastik- og Idrætsfest). This article will then attempt to piece together accounts of the 1900 and 1903 tours of Copenhagen, which are far more problematic for historians, given the lack of archival material and English-language newspaper sources. This was despite the Danish press proclaiming the tours’ successes, with the 1900 tour attracting attendance of the Danish royal family at one of the games. This paper will highlight the paradoxical elements of British and Danish amateurism on display: with Queen’s Park selling their own amateur mythology in order to prove their profitability; and the Danes utilising Scottish expertise in coaching and learning the game (a contentious issue in British amateurism), while increasingly using these trips to make their vision of amateurism financially sustainable. This article is part of a broader examination of Scottish football clubs’ tours of Denmark in the years previous to 1914, and it is hoped that it will stimulate further research and debate on a long-neglected period and region in transnational research on the history of sport.

A few precedents for transnational, bilingual research exist within the broad corpus of sports studies work on media accounts of mega-events, specifically von der Lippe and MacLean, as well as Boyle and Monteiro (von der Lippe and MacLean 2008: 71-90; Boyle and Monteiro 2005: 223-244). Additionally, Kowalski and Porter provide something of a rough template for this work in their historical examinations of football during the Cold War (Kowalski and Porter 1997: 100-121; Kowalski and Porter 2007: 64-81). Several articles discuss the influence of British football on Nordic playing styles, and Goksøyr has recently commented on the one-way traffic of British cultural influences on Scandinavian (specifically Norwegian) sport, but little or no English-language work has attempted to examine the transnational development of late-nineteenth/early-twentieth century European sport (inclusive of the UK) on two sides of the linguistic coin (Larson 2001: 58-78; Sund 1997: 163-173; Goksøyr 2013: 805-824). Taylor argues that sports historians – in comparison to practitioners of other disciplines within the broad remit of sports studies – have been slow to embrace the necessities of transnational research (Taylor 2013: 199-208). This article shows the benefits of such work, as well as the potential problems of transnational research in an era of incomplete and sometimes disinterested source material. Sporting reportage has come a long way since the period, and newspaper accounts of these visits from both Scotland and Denmark do not often list the names of opposing team members: in the case of the Scottish papers, “the Danish team” is a term used to describe several different bodies. Thankfully, the archival material of the Danish Football Association (Dansk Boldspil Union, DBU) and the Danish Sports Federation (Dansk Idræts-Forbund, DIF) enlightens researchers as to the motivations in inviting Queen’s Park in 1898, and the negotiations to bring them to the International Festival, and Grønkjær and Olsen have examined those matches in their recent history of Danish football (Grønkjær and Olsen 2007: 38-39). No such records exist for the 1900 and 1903 tours, however, and their press accounts have remained largely untouched by Anglophone historians.

Amateurism, education and class in early Scottish and Danish football

Queen’s Park’s 1898 visit to Denmark was the first trip to continental Europe made by a Scottish football club, and the second tour by major UK football clubs beyond British and Irish shores in as many years; in 1897, London’s Corinthians visited South Africa. Queen’s Park and Corinthians were the self-styled leading amateur clubs of Scotland and England respectively, and their visits abroad took on “missionary” connotations for commentators of the time. For Corinthians, their 1897 tour of South Africa was meant to solidify the bonds of British imperialism (Bolsmann 2010: 91-112). England’s Clapton FC are widely acknowledged as the first to make the trip to the continent, having made a trip to Belgium in 1890, though it is probably difficult to identify who was first with any certainty (The Friends of Clapton FC, date unknown). Queen’s Park, however, were interested primarily in what they thought of as education, and in communing with the broad church of European amateur sport. Danish football would remain staunchly amateur until 1978 (Olsen and Grønkjær 2009).

Queen’s Park FC have frequently been credited with being Scotland’s first association football club. QP, formed by businessmen-migrants from the northeast of Scotland who settled in Glasgow’s South Side, was founded in 1867, six years ahead of the formation of the Scottish Football Association (SFA). The members of Queen’s Park comprised the Scottish team that met an English eleven in the first “representative” international match, held at Partick, Glasgow in November 1872, an event additionally credited with spurring the creation of the knockout Scottish Cup competition, and indeed the SFA, in the months after the match (Mitchell 2012; Crampsey 1967). Amongst many others, these events afford Queen’s Park a special place in Scottish football’s historiography as its self-appointed “missionaries”. Several recent studies, however, have shown that no-hands football was thriving in Glasgow by the early 1860s, and was played in Edinburgh before then (Hutchinson 2008: 547-65; Hay 2010: 952-69; Mitchell, 2013; Tranter 1993: 104-07). Association football’s rapid rise in the Scottish central belt was fuelled by the presence of railways in industrial regions (Vamplew 1988: 47-50; McDowell 2012: 403-25). Even as working-class clubs from Glasgow and Dunbartonshire offered sustained challenges to Queen’s Park in the Scottish Cup, it was the institution of the Scottish Football League (SFL) in 1890, and the formal adoption of professionalism by the SFA (long practised in thinly-veiled secret) in 1893 that would ultimately threaten Queen’s Park’s position as one of Scotland’s premier clubs (McDowell 2013; Murray 2000: 7; Vamplew 1988: 51-153, 193-94). This was in large part due to their staunch amateurism, which highlighted their perceived middle-class taste-making and social exclusivity. There is little doubt that by the late 1890s and early 1900s, the Glasgow clubs which had benefitted most were two other clubs initially formed by Argyll and Irish migrants respectively: Rangers (formed in 1872) and Celtic (1887). By that time, it had become clear that both clubs were manipulating the Scottish football authorities to maximise profits for their own coffers, and this led Glasgow’s sporting press to dub them “the Old Firm” (McDowell 2013: 15-16; Murray 2000; Bilsborough 1984: 7-13).

Recent studies by Swain and Harvey have shown the dangers in attributing the modern development of British sport to amateur, educated sportsmen: at least in England, professionalism was a known quantity in several sports and pastimes by the mid-nineteenth century, including pre-codified football (Harvey 2004; Swain 2008: 566-82; Swain and Harvey 2012: 1425-1445). Regardless, Queen’s Park and supporters of the amateur order still grew to resent what they viewed as the invasion of the working class into spheres of influence in British football. Corinthians footballer and administrator N.L. “Pa” Jackson said as much in 1900. Before proceeding to express regret at the number of working-class publicans who “were mainly incapable of managing the various clubs and associations” of Scottish football (in comments that seemed directed at Celtic, known for its links to the drinks trades), Jackson pined for the old days, which Queen’s Park represented:

A few years ago there was a fairly good sprinkling of professional and business men among the West of Scotland club and on the Scottish Association Committee, but these have now dwindled away to almost infinitesimal proportions. But for the staunch amateurism of the Queen’s Park club and its good fortune in retaining the interest of some of its old members, there would be hardly any team in which a gentleman could play first-class football without hazarding his self-respect (Jackson 1900: 240-42).

Glasgow Evening News journalist Richard Robinson’s 1920 history of the club, in part, helped to solidify this mythology, as it told tales of Queen’s Park’s members’ business connections and university educations, including interactions with the rarefied Corinthians (Robinson: 1920). Recent research by Mitchell states that Queen’s Park’s members’ backgrounds were a bit more varied than Robinson allowed, and that Robinson’s history – the only club history to be based on research from its now-destroyed original minutes – contains its fair share of factual errors (Mitchell 2013). Robinson’s flawed version of Queen’s Park’s origin story acts as one of the few English-language historical accounts of Queen’s Park’s tours of the continent; and indeed, it was this reputation as football’s middle-class “missionaries” which was sold to the Danish organisers of the International Festival, held near the site of the current Fælledparken in Østerbro, Copenhagen from 30 May to 2 June 1898. The event showcased a variety of sports, including gymnastics, athletics and cricket, though Queen’s Park were enlisted as the star attraction (Grønkjær and Olsen 2007: 38-39). Robinson stated that Queen’s Park were invited to the Festival for “the purpose of popularising and improving football in Denmark, where already there were quite a number of good clubs” (Robinson, 1920). The team were far from the only foreign competitors at a highly cosmopolitan event: aside from its many Scandinavian athletes, the “ball games” exhibitions also featured German football club Hamburg-Altona, who played a DBU select in one game on Monday, 30 May.[1]


Figure 1   Queen’s Park FC and DBU Select, May or June 1898. Kindly reprinted with the permission of Queen’s Park Football Club.

The early years of Danish football certainly had their fair share of connections to the United Kingdom, as has been discussed in the English-language historiography on the history of world football (Murray 1998: 22-23; Walvin 1994: 97). British influence, in fact, set the scene for one of the founding myths of Denmark’s (and continental Europe’s) first official association club, Københavns Boldklub (KB), a body founded in 1876. According to KB’s origin story, the father of one pupil at Zealand’s Sorø Akademi, in 1877 received a football as a birthday gift from his father, who was a merchant based in Hull. Several students from the same school, as well as some from Birkerød Akademi and Herlursholm, were all a part of KB, and together they started playing football in October 1878 as a winter activity in lieu of cricket. The “truth” is probably somewhat more complicated; and, as with Scottish football, is difficult to trace to any certainty (Grønkjær and Olsen 2007: 14-15, 18-19). In fact, the Scottish newspapers of the late 1890s credited another former member of KB – with an assist from Queen’s Park itself – for bringing football to Denmark. In preparation for the 1898 matches, Scottish Sport interviewed Alexander Hamilton of Queen’s Park, who had spent several years in Copenhagen “when football was in its infancy”.[2] Hamilton stated that to former Dundee Strathmore FC player J.T. Smart:

belongs the honour of introducing the Association code to the Danes. He at that time held an important position in the Capital, and, in his usual enthusiastic manner, induced his acquaintances to give the game a trail, with the result that the sport at once caught on, and, thanks to the efficient coaching of Mr. Smart, the Danes rapidly learned the rudiments of the game, and he accordingly set to work to form a club… The first combination to be formed in the country was the Copenhagen Football Club. The club contained many of the finest specimens in an athletic sense, of the youth of the Capital. Its rules, I think, were taken entirely from those of the club which is on the eve of paying its initial visit to that country.[3]

KB had its fair share of British members, in part due to the movement of people and goods which occurred between Denmark and the UK after the former’s defeat by Germany in 1864 at the end of the Second Schleswigian War. During the late nineteenth century, Denmark’s cities, especially Copenhagen, benefitted both from the explosion of its own agricultural industry and easy access to international sea lanes. Copenhagen quadrupled in population to over half a million people by the end of the period (Jespersen 2004: 161-64). Families from well-to-do backgrounds would often send their children on tours of Britain, while some Danish companies had employees trained in the UK: it is therefore not likely that one single person, British or Danish, introduced association football to Denmark (Grønkjær and Olsen 2007: 14). Meanwhile, association football’s “spread” throughout the rest of Denmark can – as in the UK – be attributed not just to an educated elite, but to the proliferation of railways throughout the country, as a means of establishing regular communication and competition.

Part of what made Denmark a logical location for early continental forays amongst British clubs, in fact, was its comparatively easy access from Edinburgh, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Hull, and the northeast coast of the UK. The Leith, Hull and Hamburg Steam Packet Company was founded in 1836, and the company established a regular service between Copenhagen and Leith shortly after its management was taken over by James and Donald Currie in 1862. From the outset of these sailings, the company’s boats carried Danish exports of cattle to the UK; and, in the coming years, more state-of-the-art ships had special compartments fitted for the transportation of butter, eggs and bacon.[4] Queen’s Park’s initial visits were therefore organised around the schedules of transportation services already in place, that had sprung up to serve the needs of industry. As had happened domestically in the UK and Denmark, initial attempts to organise football matches internationally occurred along well-established commercial transportation routes.


Figure 2   Advert appearing for travel and goods transportation from Leith on the Leith, Hull and Hamburg Steam Packet Company. Scotsman, 8 September 1896, Glasgow University Archives Service, UGD255/4/34/1.

The period examined in this piece saw seismic fissures appear in British sport over the issues of amateurism and professionalism. This was most notably the case in rugby, being the period after England’s union/league split in 1895. The Rugby Football Union’s significant internal warfare that followed on the issues of marketing, training, and reorganisation – all things seen as necessary to sustain the struggling union code, but which chafed against the strictest definitions of what constituted amateurism (Collins 2006: 386-405). Through the 1910s and 1920s, the issue of sports coaches continued to be a highly controversial one in British athletics, inclusive of Olympic competition (Carter 2010: 55-81; Llewellyn 2012: 1016-1034). At least in part, such attitudes were derived from the amateurism of the British private school “games ethic”, many of whose middle-class pretensions were consciously adopted by Queen’s Park (Mangan 1981). The club, then, were negotiating their 1898 trip with what they believed were a group of kindred spirits. The DIF was founded in 1896, and was the successor organisation to the briefly-lived Danish Amateur Federation (Dansk Amatør-Union, DAU). The DAU, upon its initiation in 1893, used the term “non-amateur”, rather than “professional”, to refer to athletes who received remuneration for their participation in sport. Upon the quick disintegration of this organisation, the DIF (originally designed to be somewhat more inclusive) several months into its existence enacted a ban on non-amateurs. While over time working-class member clubs were admitted to the DIF, control remained amongst a metropolitan middle-class elite (Jørgensen 1996: 346-48). The DBU, which had formed in 1889, was similarly dominated by well-to-do men from Copenhagen’s fledgling football clubs, despite the considerable popularity of the game in Jutland. Indeed, the DBU was initially the governing body of tennis and cricket as well; and, by 1896, the DBU had joined the DIF (Grønkjær and Olsen 2007: 34-35; Jørgensen 1996: 340). Danish gymnastics and fitness instructors of the era had extensive knowledge, and sometimes practical experience, of working within British educational institutions, including in Scotland (Borup-Nielsen 1993: 428-35; Meinander 2005: 600-17). Two utterly foreign cultures meeting one another in sport, this was not.


Queen’s Park’s 1898 invitation did not come out of the blue, and the Scottish newspapers of the period believed that the genesis of the trip took place at Fir Park, Motherwell, on the occasion of the 19 March 1898 international between Scotland and Wales. The Scottish Referee noted a foreign visitor at the game socialising with Charles Campbell, retired Scotland international and Queen’s Park player:

A very interested spectator at Motherwell was Mr. Kinudsen, from Copenhagen all the way. It is we understand the intention of this gentleman to introduce football into Sweden and specially to the schools there. He took copious notes of the play on Saturday, and had a most excellent tutor in his task in past master of the game Mr Charles Campbell, of Queen’s Park. The veteran Internationalist explained the mysteries of the game very lucidly to the distinguished visitor, and we hope ere long to see the fruits of this in Sweden. There is talk at present of an International match with America, and who knows that a Scots team may shortly cross the Skager Rack to popularise our noble pastime.[5]

The paper’s grasp of the facts was somewhat uncertain here. Indeed, the name of “Mr. Kinudsen”, and the purpose of his visit, was reported slightly differently by the Scottish Referee on 6 May, when the Referee announced Queen’s Park’s visit to Copenhagen to participate in the Festival:

As the result probably of Dane Knudsen’s visit to our Welsh International at Motherwell in company with Mr. Charles Campbell of Queen’s Park, our leading amateur club has been invited to visit Copenhagen and there play one or two exhibition matches with a view to popularise the sport in Denmark.[6]

Scottish Sport’s 17 May 1898 interview with Alexander Hamilton, another former Queen’s Park player who had previously spent time in Copenhagen, added another wrinkle to this story: “Mr. Kundson said on his recent visit to this country, after seeing the Welsh International played at Motherwell, that their best team could stretch the Welsh team of that day”.[7]

Whoever Knudsen/Kinudsen/Kundson was (several major figures in Danish sports history of the period were named “Knudsen”), the name does not appear on the Festival programme’s list of organising committee members.[8] Regardless, the group were almost certainly notified of Queen’s Park’s availability through this encounter: a letter was addressed just over two weeks later to Campbell by DIF committee member Theodor Dahlman, a manufacturer representing the Danish Fencing Union, inviting Queen’s Park to take part in the Festival against a select team of Copenhagen footballers. Club secretary J.M. Miller’s reply on 19 April expressed interest in participating, but only under certain conditions.[9] After first attempting to establish whether “Danish” football had the same rules as British football, Miller stated that the club committee, rather than asking for a share of the gate receipts (the methods of obtaining which Miller was “not acquainted with”), would ask for a guarantee of “not less” than £100 sterling. This was the amount which Miller and the committee had calculated would meet the expenses of accommodation and steamer transport for a group of fourteen to seventeen players. Miller additionally suggested that Queen’s Park play two matches, rather than just one, against a Danish squad.[10] To convince the DIF committee that Queen’s Park were value for money, Miller utilised a rather mercenary depiction of Queen’s Park’s amateurism. In keeping with amateur requirements for the tournament, Miller proceeded to sell Dahlman on the idea of Queen’s Park’s uniqueness amongst Scottish and British football clubs, and how it could fill the coffers of the DIF:

So far as I can gather from your Programme, your Festival is entirely confined to amateurs, and therefore our Team is one of the very few in Scotland which could compete. The Queen’s Park FC were the Pioneers of the game in Scotland, having been founded fully thirty years ago, & enjoy a world wide reputation, having all along been recognised as one of the very best Teams and exhibiting the finest Football in the Country… As I understand, [if] you charge, at least, what is equivalent to our shilling, merely for admission to the grounds, you will observe that an increase of about 2,400 in the attendance of spectators would meet the probable amount of our expenses… and I have no doubt that, if our taking part in the Festival were well advertised, our presence would prove such an attraction that you would easily draw far more than double the amount of our outlays viz. £140.[11]

Financial considerations were certainly important when inviting Queen’s Park. A Danish government grant of 10,000kr went towards the Festival’s expenses, with another 6,000kr of public funding being made available; this still left a shortfall of 9,000kr, only some of which could be recouped by gate receipts. Private subscriptions from individuals were therefore necessary to create a pool for funds such as those requested by the Scottish club.[12] So, upon receipt of Miller’s letter, Dahlman, on 28 April replied that, while the DIF’s budget did not allow “the expenditure of an extra £100”, the committee were nevertheless “attempting to get up a guarantee fund for this additional amount, part of which has already been subscribed”.[13] Dahlman left no doubt as to the purpose of Queen’s Park participation in the tournament, and why he viewed securing their participation as important. His desire to teach the Danish footballers echoed Robinson’s own account of the visit:

Should we as I hope prove successful in raising the above mentioned guarantee, we shall wire to inform you to that effect, in which case we hope you will proceed to arrange accordingly, as it would be… of great satisfaction to our committee to have the pleasure of receiving a representative team of your club and I am sure it would prove very instructive to our football players.[14]

Miller confirmed receipt of a £100 guarantee from the Festival committee by 5 May, only a few weeks before the journey.[15]

The Scottish newspapers, who often gave highly deferential treatment to Queen’s Park, believed that “the Spiders” were indeed the appropriate choice of British club to head to the continent first. The Scottish Referee praised the sending of an almost-full team, believing that the Danes “should witness an interesting and educative display”.[16] But, additionally, Scottish Sport hinted at Queen’s Park’s fading relevance to the now-professional Scottish game when it mentioned their status as Scotland’s “first” club:

There is something appropriate in the Queen’s Park being the first club in Scotland to visit the Continent, as they were the first to set foot in England, and, so far as we remember, in Ireland as well. They have truly been the pioneers of the Association game in a double sense, and football in Scotland owes the black-and-white brigade a debt which it can never repay. The honour of the country is safe in the hands of the Queen’s Park, who may safely be trusted to show the Danes, our old enemies, now our staunchest friends how football should be played.[17]

Here, Queen’s Park’s most impressive achievements were seemingly discussed in past tense; and the club, while exporting a product that was acknowledged to be successful, were also seen as representing the idea of what Scottish football should be, rather than what it was. In Denmark, however, Queen’s Park’s visit is considered by historians to have had a galvanising effect in developing competitive, non-professional football in the country, especially in Copenhagen. As the star attraction at the Festival, Queen’s Park drew 7,000 spectators to the Festival ground in their first match, and 4,000 to their second. Copenhagen broadsheet Politiken noted how the match attracted a different clientele of spectatorship: one that looked more like respectable theatre-goers than the usual constituency of football supporters. Furthermore, the nimble, short-passing style of Queen’s Park introduced the Danes to a new way of playing football (Grønkjær and Olsen 2007: 38-39). The perception in the Danish press was that the margin of defeat narrowed between games as a result of adapting to the Scots’ faster style of play. Scottish Sport, however, credited the club’s “wise discretion in the second when they contented themselves with three goals, as against seven in the first”.[18]

1900 and 1903

The staunchly anti-professional Scottish Sport believed that Queen’s Park would continue to be at the vanguard of future meetings with overseas clubs. After their triumph at the 1898 Festival, the paper noted the popularity of football in Germany and Belgium as well as Denmark, and stated their belief that Queen’s Park’s amateurism would be an example to follow in football’s spread around Europe:

Should the club have any hesitation in undertaking further missionary expeditions on its own account, we would counsel the Association to ask it to continue them under its auspices. Amateur organisations can manage these matters better than professional, for reasons that need not be stated.[19]

Inevitably, Scottish newspapers openly began to speculate about the possibility of further meetings between British and continental football clubs. But the Scottish newspapers, and the historiography of British and Danish sport, left Queen’s Park’s next two visits to Copenhagen underreported. Two matches were played between Queen’s Park and a select team of the DBU in May 1900; and, in 1903, on 1, 3 and 5 June, Queen’s Park met KB. QP would make several more visits to Copenhagen beyond this; but, in their later voyages, they would be a secondary attraction vis-à-vis Scotland’s and England’s professional clubs, as well as other continental teams. Within the Scottish newspaper sources, even these matches are treated as afterthoughts: the descriptions of the games themselves, much like the 1898 matches, were minimal. Unlike the Festival games, described in depth within the DIF’s archives, and unlike later clubs’ voyages to Copenhagen, very little material in the DBU papers discusses these matches. Robinson stated that the secretary of KB, postal inspector and former Sorø Akademi student Ludwig Sylow – who would later become the president of the DBU – invited Queen’s Park back over to Denmark in a letter dated 20 April 1899, but were only able to meet £50 of QP’s requested £100 guarantee due to KB’s £600 bill for building a new tennis court. Later in the year, Sylow offered Queen’s Park the chance to come over again in 1900, this time being able to raise a £100 guarantee. By comparison, the amount of the guarantee went back up to £150 for 1903 (Robinson 1920).

This lack of information within the Scottish press is, at least, in part down to the general lack of British correspondents based in Denmark during the period, a problem for London papers, let alone Scottish ones. As late as 1910, the annual report of the British legation in Copenhagen stated that:

There is still no British correspondent in Copenhagen, and the British press continues to get its Danish news either from Danish correspondents… (some of whom are undoubtedly good), or from the German Press. Regret is frequently expressed in Danish journalistic circles that the British press is not better supplied with Danish news.[20]


Figure 3   Scottish Referee’s conception of Queen’s Park’s journey to Scandinavia, 29 May 1903.

In part, the lack of broadsheet interest in the 1900 matches can be blamed on events in other parts of the Empire: the visit was crowded out of space in Glasgow’s populist daily the Evening Times by the Second South African War and the relief of Mafeking.[21] (The summer of 1903, by comparison, had very few distractions as great as Mafeking.) Typically, the Evening Times covered domestic matches in great detail: football was crucial in driving the sales of nightly editions such as the Times (McDowell 2013: 307-46). It is easy enough to assume that the sports-only journals’ scattershot coverage reflected the less organised nature of the trip on the Scottish side. 1900 was unlike 1898, when QP were able to send a thirteen-man playing squad that included seven present and former Scotland internationals. One of Miller’s selling points in the 1898 trip was the quality of its amateurs, so much so that he included a list of players with their positions, appearances in the Scottish national team, vital statistics and photographs.[22] For the 1900 matches, organised by KB outwith any other framework of a wider sports tournament, Robinson stated that: “Some difficulty was experienced in getting the First Eleven to undertake the trip, as all were not in a position to arrange their holidays to suit” (Robinson 1920). The Evening Times went further, blaming “the exigencies of business from preventing several of the regular eleven from enjoying the trip”.[23] Even 1900’s tour, however, included notables like future confectionary entrepreneur Robert Smyth McColl, as well as an escort party which included Hamilton and Campbell (Crampsey 2008). The 1903 matches, meanwhile, barely register in the Scottish papers, aside from some lead-up coverage to QP’s voyage to Copenhagen, and an account of QP’s return to Scotland.[24] As the Scottish Referee’s cartoon in Figure 3 implied, despite “bordering” each other by water, the passage to the Continent (or, as said with a mock foreign accent, the “Continong”) was still too great a distance for journalists to report on news promptly for daily or even bi-weekly editions. This was despite QP’s narrow 1-0 win over KB in 3 June match, referred to by Politiken as “a small victory” for the Danish side.[25]



Figure 4   The match the Danish royal family witnessed: Queen’s Park v. DBU Select. From Politiken, 23 May 1900.

Indeed, the difficulties with the 1900 tour may not have been noticed by the Danes at all. Politiken did note that Queen’s Park were “mostly composed of very young men between 18 and 22 years”, but additionally believed that they “possessed an uncommon speed, agility and power”.[26] The lack of in-depth coverage in the Scottish press was all the more surprising given the attendance of Denmark’s royal family. The 1898 matches at the Festival were certainly noted in the Scottish press as having royal attendance, but the accounts of their attendance in 1900 differed dramatically between Danish and Scottish papers. After the first match, the Scottish Referee, under the triumphant headline “Scots Wha Hae”, noted that “Prince Christian, Prince Charles, and Prince Harald, and other leaders of the ancient royal house, were patrons and witnesses of the football battles”.[27] The Evening Times, meanwhile, mentioned only the presence of Prince Waldemar “amongst the enormous crowd of spectators”.[28] Understandably, Politiken set the scene far better, noting the presence of Crown Prince Christian (the future King Christian X), Princess Maud, Prince Carl (the future King Haakon VII of Norway), and Princess Aleksandrine. Politiken also described, and illustrated, a key moment in the proceedings, when the Queen’s Park team presented themselves to Prince Christian.[29] For the final match on 24 May, an 8-1 defeat of a DBU select team by Queen’s Park was witnessed by around 6,000 spectators.[30]



Figure 5   Queen’s Park meet Crown Prince Christian. Politiken, 23 May 1900.

Mutually educative amateurism?

Such attendances, then, were seen as being indicative of the mutual education that was supposedly occurring in these matches: players and spectators alike were thought to be learning the right way to play the game. But the right way, in this instance, was not just the amateur way, and this hints at one of the great paradoxes of Queen’s Park’s visits to Copenhagen: QP’s impressive displays were the yardstick by which the performance of Danish football was judged, both domestically and internationally, and the national game would require further assistance to move forward. This meant “hiring” British coaches: up to 1914, British football coaches and trainers were increasingly in demand from continental clubs (Taylor 2010: 138-68). For Queen’s Park’s 1903 journey, David Mitchell, former professional footballer for Rangers and Kilmarnock, went to Copenhagen several weeks before KB’s clash with Queen’s Park; Scottish Referee stated that his purpose there was “to coach the Copenhagen players, so that they will be better prepared for the Glasgow team on this occasion”.[31] In the small post-visit report that Referee had on the entirety of the trip, it stated that: “David Mitchell… has proved an able coach to the Danes, and the close result is proof that they have been very apt pupils”.[32]

By next year, however, Danish football went one step further than inviting professional coaches: the visits of Newcastle United and Southampton to Copenhagen in the summer of 1904 marked the arrival of professional British clubs on Danish shores. 1904 itself marked the first time the “Regatta” Cup tournament was played between Copenhagen’s major clubs, thereby acting as one of the first de facto national football tournaments in Denmark (Grønkjær and Olsen, 2007: 40; Olsen and Grønkjær, 2009). The regular attendance of British clubs of an increasingly higher grade than Queen’s Park provided far more accurate judgments of amateur Danes’ actual talents vis-a-vis British football than the fading QP. Money was also an important factor in these tours; and, by 1904, Copenhagen had been established as a foreign destination where British clubs would receive a good reception, and the DBU’s members were quick to capitalise on this success: within the next few years, foreign tours of the Danish capital were a key source of income for city clubs (Grønkjær and Olsen 2007: 38-39). Scottish newspapers were wholeheartedly in favour of a return visit by the DBU to Scotland, especially in the run-up to the 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition, but there is no evidence that Danish clubs ever visited Scotland previous to 1914.[33] By the start of the First World War, Danish players such as Nils Middleboe – known to British audiences through his exploits with Denmark’s silver medal-winning team in the 1908 Olympics – were actively being scouted by British clubs (Lanfranchi and Taylor 2001: 47). Paradoxically, Queen’s Park’s early visits to Denmark may have helped to affirm the perceived positive contributions of amateurism by strengthening Denmark’s incongruous relationship with British professional football.


The subsequent visits of Celtic, Rangers, Heart of Midlothian and other Scottish clubs (including Queen’s Park) in the period up to 1914 will be the subject of another piece. Aside from emphasising further paradoxes on Danish amateurism’s relationship with British professional football, these trips (inclusive of QP’s first voyages) were also noteworthy for their wider geopolitical significance, their cultural exchange, as well as their place within the broader pattern of British tourism to Scandinavia. Queen’s Park’s first tours to Denmark were devoid of any discussions of the governance of international sport, but they nevertheless laid the groundwork for professional British clubs to plot their own trips to the continent at a time when tentative efforts were made towards organising the game beyond national boundaries. The early correspondence between Queen’s Park, the DBU, and KB displays some of the first attempts of British and Danish footballers and officials to establish relationships with like-minded men beyond their own shores. The Scottish and Danish press, meanwhile, up to 1903 could only speculate about football’s future potential, and were still comfortable only in their familiarity of local players, and – at least in the Scottish case – were still bewildered by the concept of continental football. This research is not meant to be complete: it is, however, intended to establish new lines of enquiry in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century transnational team sport, and to provoke further discussion amongst academics and practitioners (particularly in the UK) on a highly crucial period in the development of modern sport.


This research was funded through the Annie Dunlop Endowment.

I am especially grateful to all of the help and hospitality provided by Allan Bennich Grønkjær, in terms of discussing his research with me, as well as suggestions on primary research and translation assistance.

I am also grateful to the following people for their assistance with this article: Dr. Catriona M.M. Macdonald, University of Glasgow; Dr. Martin MacGregor, University of Glasgow; Professor John Bale, Aarhus University; Professor Verner Møller, Aarhus University; Roy Hay, Deakin University; Richard McBrearty, curator of the Scottish Football Museum; and Christine Wright, general manager of Queen’s Park FC. Thanks also go to the following archives and libraries: the Mitchell Library, Glasgow; the University of Glasgow Archives; the Scottish Football Museum, Hampden Park, Glasgow; the Football Association, Wembley Stadium, London; the National Archives, Kew, London; the Rigsarkivet (the Danish National Archives), Copenhagen; and The Royal Library (Det Kongelige Bibliotek), Copenhagen.

Copyright © Matthew L. McDowell 2014


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  • [1]    Rigsarkivet (RAK) (Danish National Archives), 10366, Danmarks Idræts-Forbund (DIF) (Danish Sports Federation), Komité for 1. Internationale Gymnastik- og Idrætsfest I København (KFIGIK) (Committee for the first International Gymnastics and Sports Festival in Copenhagen), Programmes: Danske Gymnastik- og Idrætsforeninger (Danish Gymnastics and Sports Associations), Program for den 1ste Internationale Gymnastik- og Idrætsfest I Kjøbenhavn (Programme for the first International Gymnastics and Sports Festival in Copenhagen).
  • [2]    Scottish Sport, 17 May 1898.
  • [3]    Ibid.
  • [4]    Glasgow University Archives Service, UGD255/4/34/1, Anon., Company history, C.K. Hansen Co. (‘the first establishment of the service looked after the interests of the line in Denmark’).
  • [5]    Scottish Referee, 21 March 1898.
  • [6]    Scottish Referee, 6 May 1898.
  • [7]    Scottish Sport, 17 May 1898.
  • [8]    RAK, 10366, DIF, KFIGIK, Programmes, Program for den 1ste Internationale Gymnastik- og Idrætsfest I Kjøbenhavn.
  • [9]    RAK, 10366, DIF, KFIGIK, Folder 135 (Korrespondance og diverse materialer [Correspondence and miscellaneous materials]): Letter from Queen’s Park FC (J.M. Miller, secretary) to Theodor Dahlman, 19 April 1898.
  • [10]   Ibid.
  • [11]   Ibid.
  • [12]   RAK, 10366 (Korrespondance og diverse materialer [Correspondence and miscellaneous materials]), DIF, KFIGIK, Folder 135, Request for subscriptions and subscription forms.
  • [13]   RAK, 10366, DIF, KFIGIK, Folder 135, Letter from Theodor Dahlman to J.M. Miller, 28 April 1898.
  • [14]   Ibid.
  • [15]   RAK, 10366, DIF, KFIGIK, Folder 135, Letter from J.M. Miller to Theodor Dahlman, 5 May 1898.
  • [16]   Scottish Referee, 23 May 1898.
  • [17]   Scottish Sport, 24 May 1898.
  • [18]   Scottish Sport, 10 June 1898.
  • [19]   Scottish Sport, 10 June 1898.
  • [20]   National Archives (NA), FO211/276, British Legation in Denmark, Foreign Office Correspondence, 1910: 1 January 1910 report to Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey.
  • [21]   Evening Times, 19 May 1900.
  • [22]   RAK, 10366, DIF, KFIGIK, Folder 133: J.M. Miller, ‘Queen’s Park Team to Play at Copenhagen at International Festival’, undated (received 24 May 1898).
  • [23]   Evening Times, 17 May 1900; Evening Times, 19 May 1900.
  • [24]   Scottish Referee, 25 May 1903; Scottish Referee, 29 May 1903; Scottish Referee, 8 June 1903.
  • [25]   Politiken, 4 June 1903.
  • [26]   Politiken, 21 May 1900.
  • [27]   Scottish Referee, 25 May 1900.
  • [28]   Evening Times, 25 May 1900.
  • [29]   Politiken, 23 May 1900.
  • [30]   Politiken, 25 May 1900.
  • [31]   Scottish Referee, 25 May 1903.
  • [32]   Scottish Referee, 8 June 1903.
  • [33]   Scottish Referee, 23 April 1900; Evening Times, 28 May 1900; Scottish Referee, 8 June 1903;
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  1. […] [24] Matthew L McDowell, ‘“To Cross the Skager Rack”. Discourses, images, and tourism in early “European” football: Scotland, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Scandinavia, 1898-1914’, Soccer and Society 13, no. 2-3 (2017): 245-69; Matthew L McDowell, ‘Queen’s Park FC in Copenhagen, 1898-1903: Paradoxes in Early Transnational Amateurism’, Idrottsforum, published online 14 May 2014, https://www.idrottsforum.org/mcdowell140514. […]


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