24 October 1908


The final of the Olympic Games tournament took place at London’s White City Stadium with a crowd of around 8,000 present. The United Kingdom (represented by England) took on Denmark, but despite taking an early lead through Chapman they struggled to impose themselves on the game and it was only when Vivian Woodward added a second in the closing stages that the match was safe, the home team securing the gold medals with a 2-0 victory. 

The national press in general attributed the close nature of the victory to a poor performance by the host team rather than consider the unthinkable – that European football standards were close to matching those of the England Amateur team. The Observer newspaper also used their post tournament analysis to take a swipe at the French: “In the Olympic Games only the Frenchmen have had cause for disappointment. Their unrepresentative Association teams failed completely, and at the last moment they have had to withdraw from the Rugby competition, because fifteen of their chosen players could not make the journey. Sweden, Holland and Denmark in turn made hard fights with the English eleven, and only the first named suffered a heavy defeat from the chosen among Football Association amateurs. Without for a moment underrating the Dutchmen and the Danes, who put up great fights, it must be said that the England eleven failed to uphold the traditions of our amateurs. Picked largely on last season’s form the Englishmen, with one or two exceptions regularly participating in professional League football, should have played well. They included five real Internationals, and had enjoyed practice together in previous amateur contests. Yet even on Saturday in their third game of the week they could not get together, and barely held their own against the fast Danish eleven, who played throughout with splendid pluck and dash. The English forwards were particularly disappointing; weak in combination – of which little was seen – they could not dribble, and the absence of any cleverness in overcoming the opposing defence suggests that one of the chief charms of the Games is lost to professional football. The Danes deserve the highest praise for their splendid struggle that might have been still more even had any luck attended them.”


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