England 2-2 France (partially found footage of international football match; 1951)

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Programme for the match.

Status: Partially Found

On 3rd October 1951, England hosted France for a friendly international football match. Occurring in front of 57,603 at the Highbury Stadium, the match would end in a 2-2 draw, a result deemed a surprise yet welcome result for the visitors.


Heading into the match, England had won ten of the eleven encounters against their historic rivals.[1] This included a 4-2 away win on 26th May 1938; a 3-0 home victory on 3rd May 1947; and most recently a 3-1 away success on 22nd May 1949.[1] Additionally, England had never been defeated by a continental team at home.[2][3] Thus, the Three Lions were therefore regarded as the clear favourites in the upcoming tie.[4][2] Nevertheless, after coming off a poor run of form, France opted to make several changes, with England also experimenting with a new-line-up.[4] The encounter was initially supposed to be part of the Festival of Britain on 12th May 1951.[5] However, it was pushed back to 3rd October, opening the 1951-52 International season in the process.[6][4]

The Match

The match itself occurred on 3rd October with 57,603 in-attendance at Arsenal's Highbury Stadium.[7][6] The home side had the stronger start; this culminated in a cross by Tom Finney accidentally being converted into an own goal by Abdelkader Firoud.[2][4][7] England nearly doubled their lead when a throw-in by Henry Cockburn reached Harold Hassall, his shot ultimately saved by France goalkeeper René Vignal.[2] However, Les Bleus fought back, almost equalising when a strike from Jean Baratte hit the crossbar.[2] The visitors levelled the game after 18 minutes; André Doye capitalised on a poor clearance from Allenby Chilton to secure a close range strike.[2][4][6][7] He was influential in France gaining the lead just a minute later, a quick pass baffling Arthur Willis and Cockburn enough to allow René Alpsteg to score from a deflected shot.[2][4][6][7]

France nearly doubled their lead thanks to attempts from Jean Grumellon and Alpsteg narrowly being blocked by England goalkeeper Bert Williams.[2] England were initially shaken, but launched a comeback in the first-half.[2][4] After a shot from John Milburn went narrowly wide, England equalised when passes from Alf Ramsey and Wilf Mannion reached Les Medley, enabling him to make it 2-2 after 32 minutes.[2][4][6][7] England generally controlled proceedings throughout the second-half, but the French defence was resilient, preventing the Three Lions' generally uninspired forwards from making many substantial attacks.[4][2] France nearly gained the win when Grumellon launched a counterattack, being stopped only from Williams.[4][2][3] Thus, the game ending 2-2, maintaining England's unbeaten home record against continental teams.[2][4][6][7] However, it was France who received praise from most reporters, being deemed the better performing side, with some like Mike Payne and Norman Giller believing the nation was unlucky not to secure the win.[2][3][4]


As noted by Issue 1,455 of Radio Times, the BBC broadcast the second-half of the match live, with commentary provided by Jimmy Jewell and Kenneth Wolstenholme.[8][9][10] Ultimately, the transmission took place when the BBC seldom conducted telerecordings, something that would not become a regular occurrence until video tape was perfected in the late-1950s.[11][12] While the England-Italy game on 30th November 1949 received a partial telerecording, this is the only match broadcast with Jewell commentary that is known to have surviving footage.[11] Thus, the England-France television broadcast is likely permanently missing.[11] Nevertheless, some match highlights can be viewed on various newsreels.



British Pathé newsreel of the match.

Reuters newsreel of the match.


See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 11 vs 11 detailing the matches between England and France. Retrieved 5th Dec '22
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 Mike Payne's England: The Complete Post-War Record providing a detailed match report (report found on England Football Online). Retrieved 5th Dec '22
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Norman Giller summarising the encounter (report found on England Football Online). Retrieved 5th Dec '22
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 FA Yearbook 1952-53 detailing the match and noting it opened the 1951-52 International season (report found on England Football Online). Retrieved 5th Dec '22
  5. 9th March 1949 issue of The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Mercury reporting on the match originally being scheduled for 12th May 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain (article found on England Football Online). Retrieved 5th Dec '22
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 England Football Online summarising the match, providing statistics and line-ups, and noting it was televised by the BBC. Retrieved 5th Dec '22
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 11 vs 11 detailing the result of the match and other statistics. Retrieved 5th Dec '22
  8. BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the BBC's coverage of the match. Retrieved 5th Dec '22
  9. Issue 1,455 of Radio Times listing the BBC's coverage of the match. Retrieved 5th Dec '22
  10. England Football Online detailing the BBC's coverage of England games from 1950 to 1955. Retrieved 5th Dec '22
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 BBC Genome Blog noting how almost all football broadcasts featuring Jewell's commentary were never recorded. Retrieved 5th Dec '22
  12. Web Archive article discussing how most early television is missing due to the lack of directly recording television. Retrieved 5th Dec '22