Sunday, October 09, 2011

Forgotten Scotland Players: Henry Renny-Tailyour

Meandering through The Sunday Post (the scrapes that Oor Wullie finds himself in!) I spotted something in Brian Fowlie's TV review of Scotland's spectacular win in Liechtenstein:

"Craig Mackail-Smith's goal calmed things for a while, I'll swear the commentators paused to take a breath.

"I did wonder if the Brighton striker was the first player with a hyphenated name to score for Scotland. That information wasn't forthcoming."

I'd wondered the same thing myself. And now I can reveal all.

He's not. Double-barrelled Scotland caps are almost as old as the international game itself and they have always carried a goal threat.

They're not common. My trawl of the archives suggest Mackail-Smith is only the second Scotland player to greedily snaffle two surnames all to himself.

But his predecessor had a storied career.

March 1873. Scotland, representing the burgeoning Scottish Football Association for the first time, travelled to London to take part in football's second international football match.

After a 0-0 draw in Glasgow in 1872, England claimed the first cross border bragging rights with a 4-2 victory in London. The visitors could only afford to send eight players down south. The team was supplemented by three exiles.

One of those exiles scored Scotland's first ever international goal in the 25th minute of the match.

Henry Renny-Tailyour. Not an ordinary name for a Scotland player. Not an ordinary life for a Scotland player either. Before the days of tanner ba' players learning their craft playing football on the streets there were internationals like Henry.

Scottish footballers should be born in Scotland? Henry wasn't. He was born in India in those far off days when the sun never set on the British Empire.

He grew up in Montrose. Or near Montrose. I have to assume that the Renny-Tailyour's family estate amounted to slightly more than a typical Montrosian dwelling of the time.

From Montrose to Cheltenham College and then, as was the way for gentleman of the age, the British Army.

It was as a lieutenant in the Royal Engineers that Renny-Tailyour cut a dash through the early days of organised sport.

He had played for Scotland against England in 1871 but the match was scratched from official records because the Scottish team was drawn entirely from the London area.

In 1872, the year of his sole Scotland cap, he played for the Royal Engineers in the first ever FA Cup Final. They lost that game to The Wanderers and were foiled again in 1874 by Oxford University.

In 1875 the Royal Engineers finally got their hands on the trophy. Lieutenant Renny-Taylour scored in a 1-1 draw and then again in 3-0 replay win. That it was the Old Etonians that were beaten in the final will have made the experience that bit sweeter for the goalscoring Old Cheltonian.

Given his football commitments it's difficult to see how much time Henry had for engineering - royal, military or otherwise - but he progressed to the rank of colonel in the Sappers.

Amazingly though he didn't confine himself to just football and the army.

Scotland and England had met in the very first rugby international in Edinburgh in 1871. In 1872 England hosted a return match. Lining up for Scotland that day was Henry Renny-Taylour.

It's a unique achievement.

He played in the second official football international and he played in the second official rugby international. He remains the only person to have represented Scotland in both sports. Both games were played, incidentally, at The Oval. Both were lost. But for a gentleman amateur like Henry that might not have been the point.

The venue was fitting: between his football, rugby and military careers he also found time to play 28 first class cricket matches as a middle order batsman and right arm bowler.

On retiring from the army, and sport, Henry topped off what sounds like a rather enjoyable career as managing director of Guinness. I suppose there just weren't the same punditry opportunities in those days.

He died in 1920 at the age of 70, back at home in Scotland.

It seems that, unhindered by a double barrelled surname, he gave life both barrels.

Forgotten Scotland Players Number 9: Henry Renny-Tailyour, Royal Engineers. 1 (official) cap.

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