top of page

Scottish Sport 

What we gave to the world.

This beautiful country is not just all about the scenery though. Scotland has some great sporting links as well and has given the world some of the biggest sports played across the world.


These include;  Curling, Golf, Football, Shinty, Tennis, Rugby union and Rugby Seven's. On top of that we have produced many world champions both in individual sports and in team sports. Not forgetting we have the current world number one tennis player in Andy Murray. Some would also add the bicycle to this list however there are too many discrepancies to that claim to include it in this list.

We didn't just give these sports to the world, we also excelled at times in various other sports and have many world champions to prove it.


Curling is often referred to a game of chess on ice. This is because of the technical side of play where the player has to firstly decide how they are going to slide the stone (dependent on whether they are playing first or second) and whether or not they need to put any spin or "curl" on it. The angle of release is therefore critical in helping to determine what way the stone will travel. Once released the sweepers in front of the stone have to try and make sure that the stone reaches it's desired destination or as close as possible to it.  This must be done without going outside the target circles or house at the other end of the ice and without touching the moving stone or any other stones.  

The earliest written references to curling date back to Paisley in 1541. A monk from the abbey and a relative of his took part in a challenge of "throwing" stones across the ice. Curling stones as they are today had not come into existence so flat bottom rocks were used of varying shapes and sizes, usually found in river beds.


Given that these men were partaking of this type of sporting challenge in 1541, it would be fair to say that the "sport" of curling would have been older again. As, let's face it, people had to know about this game before taking part in a challenge to play it and show off their prowess. To confirm this, curling stones with the dates 1511 and 1551 were found in an old pond after it was drained in Dunblane. So people had to have been playing the game long before the monk and his relative played at the Paisley Abbey.  

The oldest running curling club in the world is believed to be Kilsyth Curling club (Scotland), formed back in 1716. It also claims to have the oldest purpose built curling pond in the world at colzium. It is said that weavers would take the heavy stone weights from their looms (warp beams) and use these to play during the winter months.

Scotland is not only the home of curling but the home of it's governing bodies. The Grand Caledonian Curling Club was formed in 1838 to create general rules of play so that everyone was playing by those same agreed rules. Four years later the name changed to the The Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC -1842) after the club applied for and gained royal patronage. 

Scotland is also home to the world governing body which was formed by a committee of the RCCC. The World Curling Federation promotes curling around the world, including the World Curling Championships. It is currently made up of Fifty-Six member countries ranging from the RCCC in Scotland to, Mexico, Mongolia, Guyana and Greece to name just a few. Guyana and Mexico are the most recent members joining in 2016.


Today, curling is played in many countries across the world. The biggest of those is Canada who were brought the game by Scottish emigrants back in 1807. However, we taught them a bit too well, they have to date won more world and Olympic championships than any other country. Scots also took the game to America, Sweden and Switzerland. The game is now played all over Europe as well as in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China and Korea. 

Eve Muirhead: Is rated as Scotland's most decorated curler and has 14 gold medals for curling, among many other silver and bronze medals, across individual and team events. These include an incredible SIX Grand Slam titles. At the 2014 winter olympic's in Sochi, she became the youngest ever skip (male or female) to win an olympic medal. Can you guess which part of Scotland she was born in?  Perth, the home of curling. Eve Muirhead

A brief history of Curling stones from wikipedia. 

The curling stone (also sometimes called a rock in North America) is made of granite and is specified by the World Curling Federation, which requires a weight between 38 and 44 pounds (17.24 and 19.96 kg), a maximum circumference of 36 inches (914.4 mm) and a minimum height of 4.5 inches (114.3 mm).[16] The only part of the stone in contact with the ice is the running surface, a narrow, flat annulus or ring, 0.25 to 0.50 inches (6.4 to 12.7 mm) wide and about 5 inches (130 mm) in diameter; the sides of the stone bulge convex down to the ring and the inside of the ring is hollowed concave to clear the ice. This concave bottom was first proposed by J. S. Russell of Toronto, Ontario, Canada sometime after 1870, and was subsequently adopted by Scottish stone manufacturer Andrew Kay.

The granite for the stones comes from two sources: Ailsa Craig, an island off the Ayrshire coast of Scotland, and the Trefor Granite Quarry in Wales.

Ailsa Craig is the traditional source and produces two types of granite, Blue Hone and Ailsa Craig Common Green. Blue Hone has very low water absorption, which prevents the action of repeatedly freezing water from eroding the stone. Ailsa Craig Common Green is a lesser quality granite than Blue Hone. In the past, most curling stones were made from Blue Hone but the island is now a wildlife reserve and the quarry is restricted by environmental conditions that exclude blasting. Kays of Scotland has been making curling stones since 1851 and has the exclusive rights to the Ailsa Craig granite, granted by the Marquess of Ailsa, whose family has owned the island since 1560. The last harvest of Ailsa Craig granite by Kays took place in 2013, after a hiatus of 11 years; 2,000 tons were harvested, sufficient to fill anticipated orders through at least 2020



Various forms of golf like games have been written about for thousands of years. The Romans used a bent stick to hit a stuffed leather ball in a game called Paganica. During the Song Dynasty, a game involving players with multiple clubs and a ball of sorts called "Chuiw an", was played. It wasn't until the 15th Century though that what we now call golf was created in Fife, Scotland. 

It wasn't all plain sailing though as James II banned the game, along with football, as it was keeping the populace away from archery practice which was the basis of defence for the country. Further confirmations of this ban were set in 1471 and 1491. Mary Queen of Scots is said to have played golf in 1567. Her son, James VI of Scotland took the game of golf to England with him when he ascended the throne of the England, thus creating the United Kingdom.

Mary is said to have played at Musselburgh Links and an account of a Scot's lawyer called Sir John Foulis of Ravelston, shows that he also played there. Thus giving credence to the courses claim of being the oldest in the world.

The setting of the now standard 18-hole golf courses, came about after The Old Course at St Andrews was reduced from 22 holes to 18 holes. This then became the recognised format for the game around the world and continues to this day. The worlds first open championship was played at Prestwick 1860 and was won by Willie Park Senior of Scotland.

In 1893, the Ladies Golf Union was formed for the UK and the British Ladies’ Amateur Golf Championship which came from this was played for the first time at Royal Lytham & St Annes. It was won by Lady Margaret Scott of England.

In 1894, the USA got in to the golfing circuit with their own association. The United States Golf Association (USGA) was formed in New York. One of its most important functions was to serve as arbiter for questions of amateur status. The Americans would later go on to be challengers at every world event and providing some of the biggest stars in golfing history.

In 1921, the very first Ryder Cup was playeed for between the men’s professionals of Great Britain and the USA at Gleneagles. It is won by Great Britain. The following year, the Walker Cup was played for the first time and this time victory went to the USA. Defeating a GB & Ireland team.

In 1930, the first grand slam was won by an American named Bobby Jones. A lawyer turned amateur golfer. Four years later, the first Masters tournament was held and was also won by an American, Horton Smith. On the 12th of August 1951, Ben Hogan, another American, won the World Championship of Golf at the Tam O’Shanter Country Club in Niles Illinois, this was the world's first televised golfing event.

Scotland wasn't without it's own champions over the years. From Old Tom Morris, a founding father of golf to James Braid, founding member of the PGA.  YoungTom Morris, son of Old Tom, is the only player ever to win 4 open championships in a row. The first of those wins at the age of only seventeen.

Other great Scots included Sandy Lyle, Willie Anderson, Willie Park Senior and Junior, James Anderson, Bob Ferguson, Alex Smith, Bob Martin, Laurie Auchterlonie, James Foulis, Fred herd, Willie McFarlane, Fred McLeod, Alec Ross, David Brown, Jack Burns, George Duncan, Willie Fernie, Sandy herd, Tom Kidd, Hugh kirkaldy, Paul Lawrie, Mungo Park, Jack Simpson, Andrew Strath and Jack White, 

For more information on Golf visit the International Golf federation.

For golf in Scotland visit The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews

Modern day Football


Football was a game created of a sorts in England. The game consisted of two teams running at a ball and kicking it as hard as they could towards the opponents goal. It was a very physical game and a lot of injuries would ensue in every game played as hacking (kicking) players was allowed in the rules. From cuts and fractures to broken limbs, it was not for the feint hearted. Players were also allowed to run with the ball in their hands and be charged down, sound familiar? This was the origins of Football.

When the Scot's saw the game and looked at the first set of rules, they decided that the game was being played all wrong. So came about the football that millions the world over know and love. So what did the Scot's change that would radicalise the game so much? 

The answer to that question seems so simple now but at the time was not practiced. Passing the ball about, dribbling and running with the ball instead of just blasting it towards the opponents goal. This is what the Scot's did and suddenly the game opened up to all sorts of possibilities.

Although the first international football match anywhere in the world in 1872 ended in a 0-0 draw between Scotland and England, Scotland's playing style meant that they would win 10 and draw 3 of the first 14 international games against England, before the English players started to copy their style of play.

When the Football League started in England. Preston North End, a team dominated by Scottish players, became its first champions in 1889 and then again in 1890. 




Scotland has laid claim to the birth of a number of popular sports, but as far as history goes, the oldest of them is shinty.

The origins of shinty are said to date back to the 6th century when the techniques used for play (a keen eye and deft throw) were used to train ancient warriors in preparation for battle. Other sources claim that it is even older. 

The game has have been refined through the years, but the determination to win is just as strong as it has always been. It’s a very tough game to play and for some, to watch.

Two of the fiercest rivals are Kingussie and Newtomore; villages that lie just three miles apart and Kingussie was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the sport's most successful sporting team of all time.

What is Shinty?

Shinty is a fast, physical game where players have to score using a ball and stick. In men’s shinty, there are 12 players on each team - including one goalkeeper. Each player uses a caman (a curved wooden stick) to hit the small leather ball used in play.  A well-struck shinty ball can travel over speeds of 100 mph.

Canada's favourite game of ‘Ice Hockey’ began life when the Scottish immigrant population of Nova Scotia adapted the game of shinty to be played on ice!

Shinty Cups

First awarded in 1896, the Camanachd Cup is the most coveted of in the men’s trophy events. For the women’s teams, the Valerie Fraser Cup is the one to win. Finals for both cups take place in September each year.

The history of Shinty and the home of Shinty can be read about here shinty

"It is very likely that sports involving hitting a ball with a curved stick were played in a number of different places around the world. Hutchinson shows us that such a game was being played in Athens in the fifth century BC. And that a sport called camanachd was being played in sixth, seventh and eighth centuries. Shinty and hurling, as played in Ireland today, certainly have the same historical roots.

Somewhere along the line of its development into the sport it is today, shinty was linked to training warriors. It was seen to be the perfect way to develop the skills that would be needed in battle. More relevant for 21st century society is the fact that shinty was also seen as the ideal activity through which to learn skills in team-working and to develop positive attitudes and behaviours that would serve people well in their lives. The present-day sport still holds these attributes as important."



Rugby originated from football and more precisely, from the rules which allowed football players to run with the ball in their hands. In 1871, the year before the first Scotland v England football game, the first ever international rugby game was also played between Scotland and England. On this occasion there was no draw as Scotland were victorious. 

The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU)

The Scottish Football Union was founded on Monday 3rd March 1873 at a meeting held at Glasgow Academy, Elmbank Stret, Glasgow. Eight clubs were represented at the foundation, Glasgow Academicals; Edinburgh Academical Football Club; West of Scotland F.C.; University of St Andrews Rugby Football Club; Royal High School FP; Merchistonians; Edinburgh University; and Glasgow University. Five of these clubs were, at the time of founding the Scottish Football Union, already members of the previously instituted Rugby Football Union.


Although the RFU now represents exclusively English clubs, in its first few years it had members from outside of England, there being no other national union. West of Scotland, Glasgow Academicals and Edinburgh University had joined the RFU in 1871 and Edinburgh Academicals and Royal High School FP had joined in 1872. These five renounced membership of the RFU to join the SFU.

The SFU was a founding member of the International Rugby Board in 1886 with Ireland and Wales. (England refused to join until 1890).

The Calcutta Cup was gifted to the Rugby Football Union in 1878 by the members of the short-lived Calcutta Rugby Club. The members had decided to disband: the cup was crafted from melted-down silver rupees which became available when the Club's funds were withdrawn from the bank. The Cup is unique in that it is competed for annually only by England and Scotland. The first Calcutta Cup match was played in 1879 and, since that time, over 100 matches have taken place.

The first-ever inter-school match recorded in Scotland was Royal High School versus Merchiston (in Edinburgh), played on 13 February 1858. 

Scotland’s first Triple Crown success came in the season 1890‐91 when they defeated Wales 15‐0, Ireland 14‐0 and England 9‐3. They repeated the feat in 1894‐95, in 1900‐01, in 1902‐03 and in 1906‐07. A sixth Triple Crown eluded Scotland for eighteen years – until season 1924‐25.

Scotland has had Grand Slam successes on only three occasions: 1925 when they won all four matches: defeating France 25‐4 in the last international match to be played at Inverleith, Wales by 24‐14 at St Helen’s, Ireland by 14‐8 in Dublin and England by 14‐11 at Murrayfield (the very first match to be played at the then new stadium)., 1984 and 1990.

Scotland were Five Nations champions on 19 occasions. Now of course Italy have joined to make it a six nations championship.

Scotland has played a seminal role in the development of rugby, notably in Rugby sevens, which were initially conceived by Ned Haig, a butcher from Jedburgh, Scotland as a fundraising event for his local club Melrose in 1883. The first ever officially sanctioned international tournament of rugby occurred at Murrayfield as part of the "Scottish Rugby Union's celebration of rugby" centenary celebrations in 1973.


Due to the success of the format, the ongoing Hong Kong Sevens was launched three years later. In 1993, the Rugby World Cup Sevens was launched and the trophy is known as the Melrose Cup in memory of Ned Haig's invention.


Other Sporting Heroes

Some more of our champions past and present. For a full listing click here.

Eric Lidell: Olympic and world record holder for 400m race.

Liz McColgan: 10,000m runner with 3 gold medals and 4 marathon titles.

Yvonne Murray: 2 gold medals at 3,000m and 1 gold at 10,000m

Allan Wells: 9 gold medals across 100m and 200m.

Richard Corsie: 7 gold medals for bowling.

Willie Wood: 6 gold medals for bowling.


Sir Chris Hoy: 19 gold medals across various cycling championships.

I could go on as there is a huge list of them. Click on the link above for more.

bottom of page