Andrew Watson: The First Black International Footballer To Popularize The ‘Pass And Run’ Style Of Play In English Soccer

Andrew Watson/Photo credit: Scottish Sports History


He led Scotland to a thrashing of England in a football derby that made headlines and transformed the face of English football in the 1800s. Andrew Watson was the first influential Black footballer to institutionalize the Scottish football style of ‘passing and running,’ which has since become an important manner of playing in modern football.

In 1875, he was 18 years old when he moved to Glasgow. According to the BBC, he had no professional football experience. However, in just six years, he rose to become a dominant force to be reckoned with in English football, earning him the respect of many skilled and talented players at the time.

Watson played in big football matches for England and came out on top in every game. In 1881, he led Scotland to a 6-1 victory over England. He won his second match against England, 5-1, at the original Hampden Park. Watson’s third and final game gave Scotland another victory over England, bringing his international record to a laudable three wins in three.

His style of play piqued the interest of the English Football Association, who approached him with the goal of revolutionizing the way players needed to deliberately make their presence felt in the game of soccer. He was one of the first recruits for Corinthian FC, a new elite amateur squad. When he played for Corinthian FC, he popularized the dribbling style of football.

Watson was dubbed the “Scotch Professor” because he taught his English teammates and other major football clubs how to play pass-and-run. His style of play eventually displaced the traditional style of individuals dribbling with the ball until they lost it to an opponent or scored in front of a goal post.

He was a player from a public school who carried himself well and spoke with an upper-class accent among his teammates. This was because of his early start. His father, Peter Miller Watson, was a sugar planter who married Hannah Rose, a British Guyanese, with whom he had Watson and his sister.

Watson went to Health Grammar School, where he interacted with the upper crust. He continued his education at Glasgow University, where he majored in mathematics while also developing an interest in football. He interrupted his education to join Glasgow-based Parkgrove FC, and later Queen’s Park FC, where he rose to become a colossus in the game, winning numerous trophies.

For the teams he played for, he was a full-back. He did, however, incorporate the function of match secretary for the teams due to his fondness for figures. Between 1887 and 1892, he finished his amateur football career at Bootle FC. He is remembered as the first Black international footballer in history.

He later became a Marine Engineer and began working on ships. When his father died in 1869, he left him millions of pounds.

Leave a Reply