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...
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.
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).
7. On 5.4.1920 Netherlands beat Denmark 2-0 at to go top of the rankings.
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.
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. 27.9.1925- Spain beat Austria 1-0 in Vienna to reclaim the top ranking.
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. 20.9.1929 - Uruguay 2 Argentina 1 at Montevideo.
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.