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WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS

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Joined: 26 Mar 2009
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    Posted: 27 Mar 2009 at 19:44
WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS: The Story of the Footballers’ Battalion in the Great War
by Andrew Riddoch and John Kemp
When the Whistle Blows

Click on the cover to buy from Amazon!
Haynes Publishing, Sparkford, Somerset BA22 7JJ
336pp, 163×242mm, illustrated, hardback.
ISBN 9781844256563 : £19.99
 
This book, with its fitting foreward by Richard Holmes, is obviously a labour of love by its authors. It tells the story of the 17th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, raised in the same manner as the Pals battalions but with many of its volunteers having connections with the beautiful game, as both players and supporters. Its first 35 volunteers were all professional footballers, drawn from clubs familiar (Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea) and more obscure (Clapham Orient, Croydon Common).
 
The battalion was raised to counter the criticism levelled, at the outbreak of war, at footballers (healthy and fit to serve, but liking their wages), fans (obsessed with the game, not war work or the war) and the FA (money to be made from the 1914-15 season). Put that together with the mentions of football hooliganism and stroppy players and I was left wondering if anything is ever new.
 
Initial recruitment escalated with numerous talented and then famous names enlisting, along with many supporters who wanted to be alongside their footballer heroes. As the battalion worked up for active service, its footballers played numerous matches to encourage further enlistment and to raise money for war charities.
 
The 17th joined the war in time for the Somme battles of 1916, sustaining heavy losses, and fought on at Oppy and Cambrai and then the final 1918 advance. Every aspect of the unit’s service is covered in detail and, as with all such accounts, the reader is left with a combination of admiration and pity for those young men who fought in the Great War.Appendices include a, hopefully, complete listing of Battalion members, about a third of whom perished.
 
This book can be recommended to anyone with an interest in the war on the ground and/or an interest in football history.
 
JMD, Volume 40 Number 1


Edited by AndyK - 22 Jun 2009 at 15:40
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