Untold lives blog

Sharing stories from the past, worldwide

10 July 2021

Italy v England

As we wait for the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy, I thought I’d look for stories about the earliest matches between the two countries in the British Library’s newspaper collection.

The first match between the two sides took place in May 1933 in Rome.  The result was a 1-1 draw.  The Sunday Pictorial published this picture ‘received by photo-telephony’ of the England goalkeeper Hibbs punching out the ball.

England v Italy 1933 - England goalkeeper Hibbs punching out the ball.British Newspaper Archive - With thanks to Reach PLC. Digitised by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited. All rights reserved.

In November 1934, the Weekly Dispatch reported that touts were charging £2 2s for tickets for the forthcoming England-Italy match at Highbury when the cheapest official entry fee was 2s.  Touts were expected to ask prices as high as £5 for the best seats just before kick-off.  England won 3-2.

The next match was held in Milan in May 1939, resulting in a 2-2 draw.  The President of the Italian Federation of Football, Lt Gen Giorgio Vaccaro, expressed the belief that the tie would help to cement the friendly relationship between the two countries.

Italy and England played their first fixture after World War II in Turin in May 1948.  The score was 4-0 to England.

The teams played again in November 1949 at White Hart Lane: England won 2-0.  Two boys from City School Lincoln were suspended by their headmaster for taking a day off to attend the match.  Jeffrey Poole, 14, and Peter Wheatley, 13, had gone with a small group of choirboys led by the Rev R F Walters, curate of St Swithin’s Church.  Their parents and the curate believed that the punishment was too harsh.  Jeffrey and Peter had no regrets, showing reporters a treasured souvenir programme and sharing memories of an exciting trip to London.  The boys were allowed to return to school after their parents wrote to the head regretting their action and promising it would not happen again.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive (also available via Findmypast) e.g. Sunday Pictorial (listed under Sunday Mirror) 14 May 1933; Weekly Dispatch 11 November 1934; Sheffield Daily Telegraph 9 May 1939; Torbay Express and South Devon Echo 3 December 1949; Boston Guardian 14 December 1949.


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