With Arsenal hosting the international friendly between Brazil and Chile this afternoon, we thought we would put together a list of international games played at Arsenal.

Prior to 1913 Arsenal’s grounds had never been considered suitable venues for international matches, the main reason being the inaccessibility of Plumstead, even though between 1890 and 1893 the club played at one of the country’s best grounds.

The first such game that Arsenal hosted was on 15 March 1920 when England played Wales at Highbury. Wales won 2-1, and this would be the only time that England tasted defeat at an Arsenal ground.


The next international game at Highbury was a “first”. England played Belgium on 19 March 1923, with the Belgians being the first continental opponents to play in England.

Prior to the early 1950s England played their home games at a variety of venues throughout the country; Wembley was only used when they played Scotland every other year in the Home Internationals. Arsenal have hosted more England games than any other London football team, a record which is equalled by Everton and surpassed only by Manchester United in the provinces. United hold the record by virtue of the number of games played at Old Trafford whilst Wembley was being redeveloped.

The last full international at Highbury was England v Luxembourg in 1961 in a World Cup qualifier. The whole programme is available to read by clicking on the cover below.

1961-09-28 England v Luxembourg 01

I remember reading years ago that Highbury was not considered as a 1966 World Cup venue as the pitch was one yard too short.

Here is a list of full internationals that have been played at Highbury and Ashburton Grove. As you can see, all of the international matches at Highbury involved England whilst all of those at Ashburton Grove have seen Brazil face a variety of opponents.

Date Teams   Score
1 15/03/1920 England v Wales 1-2
2 19/03/1923 England v Belgium 6-1
3 09/12/1931 England v Spain 7-1
4 14/11/1934 England v Italy 3-2
5 02/12/1936 England v Hungary 6-2
6 26/10/1938 England v Rest of Europe FA 75th Anniversary 3-0
7 03/05/1947 England v France 3-0
8 19/11/1947 England v Sweden 4-2
9 02/12/1948 England v Switzerland 6-0
10 22/11/1950 England v Yugoslavia 2-2
11 03/10/1951 England v France 2-2
12 28/09/1961 England v Luxembourg World Cup 4-1
13 03/09/2006 Brazil v Argentina 3-0
14 05/02/2007 Brazil v Portugal 0-2
15 26/03/2008 Brazil v Sweden 1-0
16 09/02/2009 Brazil v Italy 2-0
17 02/03/2010 Brazil v Ireland 2-0
18 27/03/2011 Brazil v Scotland 2-0
19 29/03/2015 Brazil v Chile  1-0

In addition to the above list, a number of other non-senior international matches were staged at Highbury. Hopefully they are self-explanatory. If not, leave a comment.

In 1953 the FA instigated a game between a senior England team and one consisting of younger players, often the under-23 team. This game was generally held on the eve of the FA Cup final. It ran until 1968 and was usually played at Highbury, with Stamford Bridge hosting the others. This was quite ironic as this was quite a barren period for Arsenal players representing England and very few Arsenal players played in these games.

Date Teams   Score
1 04/03/1931 England v The Rest Trial 3-2
2 12/05/1934 England v Scotland Schoolboys international 4-1
3 08/05/1935 England XI v Anglo Scots XI King George V Silver Jubilee Match 0-1
4 31/07/1948 Great Britain v Holland Olympic Games 4-3
5 05/08/1948 Italy v Denmark Olympic Games 3-5
6 30/04/1952 British Olympic XI v England B XI Trial 0-3
7 14/02/1953 England v Wales Amateur international 3-3
8 09/11/1953 Anglo South Africa XI v South Africa 6-1
9 30/04/1954 England v Young England 2-1
10 06/05/1955 England v Young England 5-0
11 03/05/1957 England v Young England 1-2
12 04/03/1958 England v Austria Youth international 3-2
13 01/05/1959 England v Young England 3-3
14 06/05/1960 England v Young England 2-1
15 04/05/1962 England v Young England 3-2
16 24/05/1963 England v Football League FA Centenary 3-3
17 15/04/1963 England v Rumania Youth international 3-0
18 30/04/1965 England v Young England 2-2
19 19/05/1967 England v Young England 0-5
20 17/05/1968 England v Young England 1-4
21 25/03/1972 England v France Schools international 1-0
22 02/01/1973 England v Holland Under 23 international 3-1
23 14/03/1973 England v Italy Youth international 1-0
24 20/05/1983 England v Czechoslovakia Youth international 1-1*
25 27/04/1988 England v France Under 21 international 2-2

* Czechoslovakia won 4-2 on penalties

Arsenal have also played a number of friendlies against international teams. The first was against a Canadian touring team in 1891, although technically they were a Canadian-American team.

Royal Arsenal v Canadians 28 November 1891

Royal Arsenal v Canadians 28 November 1891

The next two games were against the Austrian and Swiss national sides but had to be billed as a Vienna XI and Swiss Wanderers as international teams were not allowed to play club sides.

Date Opponents Arsenal team Score
1 28/11/1891 Canadians First team 1-1
2 03/12/1891 Canadians First team 4-0
3 04/12/1933 Vienna XI First team 4-2
4 21/09/1938 Swiss Wanderers First team 3-2
5 10/11/1952 England Amateur XI Reserves 3-1
6 23/09/1953 South Africa First team 2-2
7 13/09/1955 England Amateur XI First team 2-1
8 05/11/1956 British Olympic XI First team 3-2
9 25/01/1960 GB Olympic XI First team 4-0
10 15/12/1964 England Youth XI Reserves 4-2
11 09/11/1965 England Youth XI Reserves 3-1
12 16/11/1965 Brazil First team 2-0
13 17/01/1967 England Youth XI Youth team 2-3
14 05/08/1969 Italy Under 21 Reserves 0-1
15 14/12/1971 England Youth XI Youth team 1-0
16 05/08/1972 Italian Youth XI Youth team 3-3
17 27/11/1984 Australia First team 3-2
18 14/02/1989 France First team 2-0
An unusual cover - click to read the programme

An unusual cover – click to read the programme

A number of games were played at London Colney behind closed doors, most notably on 4 February 1975 against an England XI. England won 2-0 with both goals scored by Arsenal players – Brian Kidd playing for England and a Terry Mancini own goal!

Monte Fresco - what a name!

Monte Fresco – what a name!

We’ve not included these as the records are difficult to find due to the lack of public access.


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2 thoughts on “International Matches at Arsenal

  1. Pete The First on 30 March 2015 at 10:10 am said:

    Talking of Terry Mancini….

  2. Ken George on 29 March 2015 at 9:13 pm said:

    Another really absorbing article ,
    The Arsenal youth team was particularly productive with nine of the squad going on to represent the first eleven . Even those who failed to make a breakthrough at Highbury went on to play many games for other clubs .

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