The Sol­dier’s Game boosted morale and fought against

Sunderland Echo - - Armistice 100 -

In 1914 foot­ball was part of daily life across Bri­tain and like us today the First World War gen­er­a­tion had a pas­sion for foot­ball, a game which grew hugely in pop­u­lar­ity in the early part of the 20th cen­tury. Foot­ball be­came (and still is) the ‘Sol­dier’s game’. It was a morale booster, and a weapon to com­bat the bleak­ness of the trenches. Back at home, many women when they weren’t busy con­tribut­ing to the war ef­fort took to the pitch in un­prece­dented num­bers to or­gan­ise and play in foot­ball matches that raised both morale and funds for wounded sol­diers and for be­reaved fam­i­lies.

Today it’s hard to imag­ine foot­ballers like Harry Kane be­ing re­quired to swap a Spurs kit for khakis and a ri­fle. But thou­sands of play­ers like him did just that. Al­most three thousand pro­fes­sional foot­ballers served dur­ing the First World War and sadly three hun­dred of them paid the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice. Alex ‘Sandy’ Turn­bull was one of them. He played for Manch­ester United be­fore the war and scored the first goal at Old Traf­ford. He died at Ar­ras in July 1917 leav­ing a widow and four chil­dren. Wal­ter Tull, the Bri­tish Army’s first mixed race of­fi­cer to com­mand white troops was formerly of Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur. He died at Ar­ras in 1918. There was New­cas­tle United’s Don­ald Bell, who had there not been a war would’ve played in­ter­na­tional foot­ball but in­stead he won a VC by knock­ing out a Ger­man ma­chine gun post.

The list goes on and as Chair­man of the Army Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion I recog­nise the need to tell the story of th­ese men to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. I also be­lieve in the en­dur­ing and in­clu­sive ap­peal of the Sol­dier’s game. Foot­ball still plays an im­por­tant role

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.