Andrew Watson’s father, Peter Miller Watson, was the manager of a sugar plantation in British Guiana while his mother was a local woman called Anna (or Hannah) Rose. Having been born illegitimately, accurate details of Watson’s early life are virtually non-existent. It was only after his father moved the young Andrew and his sister Annetta to Scotland in the early 1860s that any reliable evidence began to appear.

Peter Watson died in 1869 while his son was enrolled at a boarding school in Halifax in West Yorkshire. He and his sister inherited a significant amount of money that secured their financial futures and, after attending King’s College School in Wimbledon, Watson took up a place to study mathematics, engineering and natural philosophy at the University of Glasgow. With his existing interest in football flourishing and, having left university after just one year to take up an engineering apprenticeship, Watson’s talents as a full back saw him join a succession of increasingly bigger clubs.

By 1880 Andrew Watson was playing for Queen’s Park – Britain’s leading team – and the next year he was called up to captain the Scottish national side in a match against England on 12 March 1881. Played at the Oval in London, which currently serves as an international cricket venue, the Scots defeated England by an incredible 6 goals to 1 in a match that is still the heaviest defeat ever suffered by England on home soil. He later moved to London where he became the first black player in the English FA Cup when he joined Swifts in 1882.

On the 8th September 1888, the very first Football League games were played in England. Consisting of twelve teams, the first day’s table – if one had been printed – would have featured West Bromwich Albion at the top based on the calculation of ‘goal average’ that acted as the tie-break criteria. However, under the modern rules of ‘goal difference’ that was introduced in 1976, Derby County would have been top of the table on the first day.

The Football League was the brainchild of William McGregor, a director of Aston Villa, who hoped to provide a system whereby all the member clubs would play a guaranteed number of games each season rather than rely on ad-hoc arrangements. The idea was simple: each member of the League would play a home game and an away game against every other League team. Two points would be awarded for a win and one point for a draw and, at the end of the season, the team with the highest number of points would be declared the Champions of England.

Twelve teams made up the very first Football League, and Preston North End finished the season without suffering a single defeat. They became the first ever League champions, and also won the 1889 FA Cup which made them the first ever team to win the League and Cup double.

Based on post-match reports that reveal the delayed kick-off times of each of the matches, it’s now generally accepted that the first ever Football League goal was scored by Kenny Davenport against Derby County just 2 minutes after the match began.

Chile and Italy met in the 1962 FIFA World Cup, which resulted in ‘the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football possibly in the history of the game’.

Nicknamed the Battle of Santiago, the match between the Chilean host nation and the Italians was preceded by provocative articles in the Italian press. Chile had suffered devastating damage in the 1960 Valvida earthquake, which was the largest ever recorded and caused at least $3.24 billion of damage when adjusted for inflation. In the wake of the disaster, Italian journalists criticised the decision to allow Chile to continue to host the competition as ‘pure madness’. Shortly before the competition was due to begin, Italian newspapers published further inflammatory comments about the country’s infrastructure, people and capital city.

These tensions came to a head at the Group 2 match between Chile and Italy at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago. In front of over 66,000 people, the players unleashed such violence that the Mirror, a newspaper in Britain, described the pitch as ‘a battlefield’. The match was refereed by experienced Englishman Ken Aston who sent off an Italian player within the first few minutes, but later failed to reprimand Chilean Leonel Sánchez for throwing punches at two separate Italian players, breaking the nose of one of them.

Despite armed police needing to be called three times during the match, the game finished with Chile winning 2-0 against a 9-man Italian team. Aston was heavily criticised by both sides, but defended himself by saying that he was more like ‘an umpire in military manoeuvres’. He was later appointed to the FIFA Referees’ Committee, where he introduced red and yellow cards as a visual sign of a caution or sending off.

On 28th April 1923, the original Wembley Stadium in London opened with the FA Cup Final between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United.  Official figures placed attendance at 126,000 people – 1,000 more than the stadium’s capacity – but the crowd was probably twice that size.

The stadium had originally been built for the British Empire Exhibition that was to take place in 1924, but it was finished ahead of schedule.  Despite concerns that they wouldn’t have enough spectators to fill the enormous stadium, the FA played the match there anyway.

When the gates opened at 11.30am, an orderly queue of people made their way inside.  Just over two hours later the steady flow had increased to the point where stadium authorities decided they needed to close the gates.  However, the increasing number of people outside the stadium forced the gates open, leading to spectators flooding the pitch.

It was only after the mounted police arrived that the situation began to calm down.  They managed to clear the pitch enough for the match to begin just 45 minutes behind schedule.

Although many others were involved it was a light grey hose called Billie, ridden by PC George Scorey, who became the symbol of the day.  Appearing white on the newsreel footage, Billie’s appearance led to the match becoming known as the ‘White Horse Final’.  The bridge outside the new Wembley Stadium was subsequently named White Horse Bridge.  As for the football match, Bolton Wanderers beat West Ham 2-0.

Ninety-six Liverpool Football Club fans died and hundreds more were injured in a crush at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield.

Liverpool were facing Nottingham Forrest in a sold out 1988-89 FA Cup semi-final. The match was scheduled to be played at the neutral home of Sheffield Wednesday, and fans of the two teams were allocated segregated areas based on their approach routes. This led to Liverpool being assigned to the smaller Leppings Lane stands, despite the team having more supporters.

Many English football stadiums at the time featured standing-only ‘pens’ that were surrounded by high steel fences to keep fans separated from each other and from the pitch. Although Hillsborough had experienced non-fatal crushes previously, no changes were made to the layout of the terrace.

As Liverpool fans began to arrive at the stadium, a bottleneck began to form due to the small number of turnstiles. Over 5,000 fans were still outside the ground fifteen minutes before kick-off, so police opened a large exit gate in order to relieve pressure. This led to thousands of Liverpool supporters entering pens 3 and 4, exerting enormous pressure on those fans already inside who began to be crushed against the fencing. Some managed to escape by climbing the fences and others were pulled to safety by fans in the upper stand, but 96 people died and 766 were injured.

Numerous inquests followed the disaster, with the authorities initially diverting blame to the Liverpool fans themselves. In April 2016 the Goldring inquest returned the verdict that the police failed in their duty of care and that the fans were unlawfully killed due to gross negligence.

On the 6th February 1958, British European Airways flight 609 crashed at Munich-Riem Airport while carrying the Manchester United football team, supporters and journalists. Of the 44 passengers on board the plane, 23 died as a result of the crash.

The Manchester United team, nicknamed the “Busby Babes”, were flying back to England from Yugoslavia after a 3–3 draw in a quarter-final match of the European Cup against Red Star Belgrade. The team had not been beaten for eleven matches, and were attempting to become the third club to win three successive English league titles.

The aeroplane, an “Elizabethan”-class Airspeed Ambassador, had landed in Munich to refuel, since it wasn’t capable flying non-stop from Belgrade to Manchester. The flight was already an hour behind schedule due to some confusion with player Johnny Berry’s passport and visa when leaving Belgrade. This was exacerbated by two abandoned take-offs from Munich due to an intermittent fault in the left engine.

Despite the engine problems, captain James Thain opted to attempt a third take-off by which time it had begun to snow. His plan was to accelerate slowly along the long runway to avoid stressing the engine, but as the plane reached the speed required for take-off the wheels hit slush that had built up on the runway. This slowed the plane down, but there was not enough runway left to safely abort the take-off. Consequently it skidded off the end of the runway before crashing through the airport fence, across a road, and losing its port wing after catching on a house. Twenty of the people on board died instantly.