England 2-2 Yugoslavia (partially found footage of international football match; 1950)

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Programme for the match.

Status: Partially Found

On 22nd November 1950, England hosted Yugoslavia for a friendly international football match. Occurring in front of 61,454 at the Highbury Stadium, the visitors came from behind to draw 2-2 against the Three Lions, which meant at the time Yugoslavia was the only continental team to maintain an unbeaten record against England, as well as on English soil.


Prior to this encounter, England and Yugoslavia had only previously played each other once.[1][2] On 18th May 1939, Yugoslavia hosted England in front of a Yugoslav record crowd of 35,000 at the Stadion Beogradski Sport Klub Jugoslavija.[2] Yugoslavia won the encounter 2-1.[2][1] As reported by The Daily Herald, a friendly match at Highbury was agreed in June 1950, with the match set to occur on 22nd November that same year.[3] Heading into the match, Yugoslavia was actually the only continental team England at the time had faced but never beat.[4][5]

The encounter came a few months after both sides' campaigns at the 1950 FIFA World Cup.[6][3] Whereas Yugoslavia had performed well prior to being knocked out by eventual runners-up Brazil, England were demotivated after losing to Spain, and most infamously, the United States.[7][6] Nevertheless, England had never lost a match on home soil against a nation outside the United Kingdom and Ireland, and were aiming to maintain this record.[4][5] But to ensure the team regained composure post-World Cup, several changes were made, including leaving both Thomas Finney and Stanley Matthews out of the squad for the first time since the Second World War, and fielding new and less capped players like Nat Lofthouse and John Hancocks.[8][9][4]

The Match

The match itself occurred on 22nd November in front of 61,454 at Highbury Stadium.[10][8] England started off the strong side, troubling the Yugoslav defenders and testing its goalkeeper, Vladimir Beara.[4] After 28 minutes, Len Medley hit the post, and the rebound allowed Lofthouse to fire directly, Beara surprising onlookers by saving that shot.[4] However, the Three Lions soon gained the lead; Eddie Baily fired a long pass towards Medley, whose cross was reached by Lofthouse, firing from the other side to make it 1-0.[4][5][9][8][10] After 35 minutes, Hancocks made a cross that Lofthouse headered in for 2-0.[4][5][9][8][10] The FA Yearbook 1951-52 deemed England as the superior team during the early stages for their co-ordination in both attack and defence.[5] However, Yugoslavia fought back 41 minutes in; Tihomir Orgjanov made a seemingly harmless cross into the England goal, but Leslie Crompton, in trying to protect goalkeeper Bert Williams, accidentally clipped the ball into his own net.[4][5][9][8][10] Todor Živanović would have secured the equaliser were it not for Williams diving onto the ball to maintain a now-slender lead.[4]

Despite an aggressive start to the second-half by the home side, with Beara forced to save numerous shots, Yugoslavia fought back.[5][4][9] It resulted in England's attack force being greatly diminished in the final 30 minutes, enabling the Yugoslavs to press on.[4][5] Stjepan Bobek was deemed the star player behind Yugoslavia's comeback, and would be crucial for his nation equalising after 78 minutes.[4] Bobek went for goal but England captain Alf Ramsey blocked it.[4] This proved to be a critical error, however, as Ramsey not only performed the block when Williams could have simply saved the attempt, but said block rebounded towards Živanović.[4] Živanović capitalised to level proceedings.[4][5][9][8][10] After a doldrums period, England appeared resurgent during the final minutes, but both Yugoslava's firm defence and Beara's three late saves enabled the visitors to secure a draw.[4][5][9][8] Thus, they remained the first continental side unbeaten in England during a full international.[4][5] After Yugoslavia defeated England 1-0 on 16th May 1954, the Three Lions finally secured their first victory against their rivals 3-0 on 28th November 1956 at Wembley Stadium.[11][12][1]


As detailed in Issue 1,410 of Radio Times, the match received just over an hour of live coverage from the BBC, with commentary provided by Jimmy Jewell and Kenneth Wolstenholme.[13][14][15] Ultimately, the broadcast during a period where telerecordings seldom occurred, with video tape not being perfected until the late-1950s.[16][17] Since England's game with Italy on 30th November 1949 was subject to an experiment telerecording, some coverage of the Yugoslavia game could have been preserved.[16] However, the BBC confirmed that the England-Italy match was the only surviving footage featuring live commentary from Jewell, meaning that the hour-long broadcast is now permanently missing.[16] Nevertheless, some footage of the match can be viewed on surviving newsreels.



Reuters newsreel of the match.

Silent British Pathé newsreel of the match.

Filmske Novosti newsreel of the match.

Another newsreel of the match.


See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 11 vs 11 listing the matches between the two sides. Retrieved 2nd Dec '22
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 England Football Online detailing the 18th May 1939 encounter between the nations. Retrieved 2nd Dec '22
  3. 3.0 3.1 29th June 1950 issue of The Daily Herald reporting on the match being set for 22nd November (report found on England Football Online). Retrieved 2nd 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 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 Mike Payne's England: The Complete Post-War Record providing a detailed match report (report found on England Football Online). Retrieved 2nd Dec '22
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 F.A. Yearbook 1951-52 reporting on the match and noting Yugoslavia became the first continental team to remain unbeaten on English soil (report found on England Football Online). Retrieved 2nd Dec '22
  6. 6.0 6.1 FIFA detailing the 1950 FIFA World Cup results. Retrieved 2nd Dec '22
  7. The Guardian detailing England's disastrous 1950 FIFA World Cup campaign. Retrieved 2nd Dec '22
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 England Football Online's page on the match, including the result, statistics, match reports, and the BBC broadcast. Retrieved 2nd Dec '22
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 Norman Giller's summary of the match and noting the changes in the squad (report found on England Football Online). Retrieved 2nd Dec '22
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 11 vs 11 detailing the result of the match and other statistics. Retrieved 2nd Dec '22
  11. 11 vs 11 detailing the result of the 16th May 1954 match. Retrieved 2nd Dec '22
  12. 11 vs 11 detailing the result of the 28th November 1956 match. Retrieved 2nd Dec '22
  13. BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the BBC's coverage of the match. Retrieved 2nd Dec '22
  14. Issue 1,410 of Radio Times listing the BBC's coverage of the match. Retrieved 2nd Dec '22
  15. England Football Online detailing the BBC's coverage of England games from 1950 to 1955. Retrieved 2nd Dec '22
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 BBC Genome Blog noting how almost all football broadcasts featuring Jewell's commentary were never recorded. Retrieved 30th Nov '22
  17. Web Archive article discussing how most early television is missing due to the lack of directly recording television. Retrieved 2nd Dec '22