England 2-0 Italy (partially found footage of international football match; 1949)

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Captains Billy Wright (left) and Riccardo Carapellese (right) shake hands before the game.

Status: Partially Found

On 30th November 1949, England hosted Italy at White Hart Lane for an friendly international football match. The result ultimately ended with a 2-0 victory for the hosts, although the Three Lions were criticised for generally being outplayed by visitors until the end of the game. This match also has television significance, as it is the oldest BBC televised football match with surviving broadcast footage.


Heading into the match, England continued to defend its unbeaten home record, having recently achieved a 9-2 victory over Ireland on 16th November 1949, in a match that served as part of the 1949-50 Home International Championship and a 1950 World Cup qualifier.[1][2] Meanwhile, Italy's last game was a 1-1 draw away against Hungary on 12 June 1949, serving as part of the 1948–53 Central European International Cup.[3] The team was still recovering from the Superga air disaster that claimed the lives of the entire Torino football team, many of which were part of the Italian line-up.[4] The last time England and Italy played each other was on 16th May 1948 at the Stadio Comunale di Torino, which was the Italian F.A. Golden Jubilee Celebration Match.[5] England ultimately won that game 4-0.[5]

Meanwhile, this would be the seventh England game to be televised by the BBC, and the fifth following the Second World War.[6][7][8] Notably, this match broke further ground in the televising of football, as it was subject to an experimental telerecording where a few minutes of footage would be stored.[9] Beforehand, televised footage of the previous six matches would become permanently lost, as there were limited means of recording television back then, with recording seldom occurring until video tape would was perfected by the late-1950s.[10][9]

The Match

The match itself occurred on 20th November 1949 at White Hart Lane in front of 71,527 fans.[11][2] This in itself caused controversy, as another 40,000 hoping to see the game were denied entry.[11] England made a strong start in the opening minute, almost scoring when Jack Rowley made a back-heel to Stan Mortensen, whose shot was saved by Italian goalkeeper Giuseppe Moro.[12] Despite the opening attack, it was Italy that proved to be the stronger side throughout, with most of the English side being inexperienced against the visitor's fast style of play.[13][12] England goalkeeper Bert Williams was forced to make multiple saves from Riccardo Carapellese and Rinaldo Martino, but it was Benito Lorenzi who proved to be the most likely to score according to a report by Mike Payne.[12][14]

For the first two-thirds of the game, a pattern of Italy achieving a strong attack and exploiting a weakness in the half-backline emerged, with the visitor's inability to finishing any results, with Williams making several saves.[13][12][14] But in the 76th minute of play, England fought back, when Willie Watson passed to Jack Froggatt, who cut inside and passed to Stan Pearson.[12][13] Pearson managed to achieve a pass into the centre, which was capitalised on by a powerful shot from Rowley to make it 1-0.[2][13][12][14] Five minutes later, Billy Wright fired a shot to the Italian goal from the halfway line.[12][13] Moro was seemingly unchallenged by this, and reached to collect the ball. However, wind suddenly blew the ball in a different direction, causing it to travel past Moro's head and into the net for 2-0.[14][12][2][13] This remained as the final score when the whistle blew at the end.[2][12]

Post-match, both English and Italian newspapers and reporters concluded that the home side was fortunate to win, as they had been outplayed throughout most of the game.[2] Il Tempo declared that Italy were '"defeated but not dominated" and that "the defeat rankles as an injustice, coming after an equally matched first half which we could have won."[15] Even the English F.A. Yearbook 1950-51 admitted England were outplayed, stating "The Italians played with great dash and brilliance, and but for their weakness in finishing the result would certainly have been very different. England were lucky to win."[13] Other reports focused on the usage of two white balls for the second-half, which FA Secretary Sir Stanley Rous demanded as he felt that the ordinary balls utilised would be invisible in the air during the darkness.[16][17] Most, including Football League Secretary F. Howarth were unconvinced the white ball was superior however, stating that the ball did not provide many significant advantages compared to the normal balls used, and that it was not muddy enough for them to be tested.[18][16]


As mentioned previously, a televised football match from 1949 would typically be permanently missing, as recording seldom occurred until the late-1950s.[10][9] However, the game was subject to an experimental telerecording lasting a few minutes, which still exists within the BBC archives to this day.[9] It also provides the only instance of television commentary from Jimmy Jewell.[9] It is also known that a newsreel lasting 15 minutes was televised on 2nd December, though it is unclear whether this was the telerecording or another altogether.[8][7][6] Additionally, newsreels of the game from British Pathé remain publicly available.



Footage from the BBC telerecording.

British Pathé newsreel of the match.

British Pathé newsreel of the match.


See Also

Association Football/Soccer Media

Early BBC Sports Television

Early BBC Television

Early Sports Television Media


  1. England Football Online detailing England's 9-2 win over Ireland. Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 England Football Online detailing the result of the game and providing report extracts regarding it. Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  3. EU Football detailing the result of the Hungary game. Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  4. Simple Flying detailing the Superga air disaster. Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  5. 5.0 5.1 England Football Online detailing the results of the Italian F.A. Golden Jubilee Celebration Match. Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  6. 6.0 6.1 England Football Online detailing the television broadcast of the match. Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  7. 7.0 7.1 BBC Genome archive of Radio Times listings detailing the match. Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  8. 8.0 8.1 Issue 1,363 of Radio Times listing the match. Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 BBC detailing the telerecording which still exists as of the present day. Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  10. 10.0 10.1 Web Archive article discussing how most early television is missing due to the lack of directly recording television. Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  11. 11.0 11.1 Journal & North Mail reporting on the attendance and another 40,000 being denied entry (article found on England Football Online). Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 12.8 Mike Payne providing a detailed account of the game (article found on England Football Online). Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 F.A. Yearbook 1950-51 detailing the game (article found on England Football Online). Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Norman Giller summarising the game (article found on England Football Online). Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  15. Il Tempo reporting on the game (article found on England Football Online). Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  16. 16.0 16.1 The Guardian detailing the history of white footballs being used in football, including for this match. Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  17. The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Mercury reporting on a white ball being used in the second half (article found on England Football Online). Retrieved 29th Apr '22
  18. The Evening Post reporting on Howarth's comments surrounding a white ball being used (article found on England Football Online). Retrieved 29th Apr '22