Retrospective Elo rankings 1873-1937

The Elo rating system, borrowed from chess, has been applied to international football since 1997. Of course, using the formulae, matches can also be analysed retrospectively, so we can see the Elo weighting of matches and ranking of countries at any point in the history of the international game.
Here I have attempted to trace the number one ranking from the second ever international match up until 1937.

1. England get number one ranking for the first victory in international football, a 4-2 win over Scotland at Kennington Oval, London on 8.3.1873. They hold on to the number one spot for 3 seasons...

2. Scotland take first place following a 3-0 win over England at West of Scotland Cricket Ground, Glasgow on 4.3.1876. They stay at the top for16 years...

Harry Daft- England captain, 1892

3. England's 2-0 win over Ireland at Belfast's Solitude ground on 5.3.1892 elevates them to first place, where they remain  until  29.2.1904, however, before Scotland's next fixture,(4.) England reclaim number one ranking the following month beating Ireland 3-1 in Belfast.

Denmark 1914

5. Denmark break the British hegemony, beating Netherlands 4-3 in Copenhagen 17.5.1914 puts them at number 1. they maintain this position for the majority of the 1914-18 period. They slip into (virtual) 2nd place on 16.6.1918, regaining top spot with a win over Sweden on        20.10.1918.

6. After most football is suspended during the war, England return to the top of the rankings when Denmark lose 3-2 to Norway (21.9.1919).

Netherlands 1920

7. On 5.4.1920 Netherlands beat Denmark 2-0 at to go top of the rankings.
Uruguay 1920

8. 25.7.1920 sees the  world number one ranking move outside Europe as Uruguay claim the honour with a  3-1 over Argentina in Buenos Aires.

9. A 5-4 win over Sweden in the Antwerp Olympics sees Netherlands return to the top on 29.8.1920.

Spain 1920

10. Seven days later in the same tournament the Netherlands lose 3-1 to new top seeds, Spain.

11. Later that month the title passed south of the Equator once more as Uruguay's 6-0 win over Brazil in a Copa America match in Chile placed them back at the top of the rankings on 18.9.1920.

12. Spain returned to top spot following a 2-0 home win over Belgium on 9.10.1921

13. 25.5.1924- Spain lose 1-0 to Italy in the Olympics at Colombes. Meanwhile, Argentina and Uruguay are playing each other simultaneously in two fixtures- they are 2nd and 3rd string Uruguayan teams as the main selection is in France for the Olympiad. However, they finish the day back at the top of the world rankings. They slip into virtual 2nd for 4 days in August 1925 following a surprise defeat at the hands of Paraguay, but effectively are world number ones until September 1925.

14.  27.9.1925Spain beat Austria 1-0 in Vienna to reclaim the top ranking.

15. 16.10.1926- In the Copa America at Chile Argentina move top after beating Bolivia 5-0.

16. Eight days later Uruguay beat Argentina 2-0 and replace them at the top of the rankings.

José Nasazzi and  Fernando Paternoster  1929

17. 16.6.1929- Argentina 2 Uruguay 0 at Buenos Aries.

18. 20.9.1929Uruguay 2 Argentina 1 at Montevideo.

Argentina 1929

19. 1929's Copa America saw another trans River Plate swap- on November 1st Uruguay lost 3-0 to Paraguay, putting Argentina back in first place in the Elo table. they retained this position despite being beaten by their neighbours in the final of the 1930 world Cup.

Austria 1934

20. No change until the Italy 1934 World Cup- on 27th May Argentina lost 3-2 to Sweden and Austria beat France 3-2 . Consequently Argentina and Austria traded places.

Italy 1934

21. June 3rd- Italy beat Austria 1-0 in the semi final of the world cup- Italy become the number one ranked team, and hold the position until the end of our era of interest and beyond...