A couple of years ago I wrote, on this blog, about the famous ‘Football Attack’ on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, and how some of the war diaries for these football battalions were now available online to view.
The Footballers’ Battalions were formed partly in response to criticism that the 1914-15 league season had not been cancelled despite the outbreak of war, with many members of the public suggesting strongly that players should be drafted to the army instead of continuing to play football.
In remembrance of these football battalions, on Thursday just past, more than 100 people gathered in Longueval on Thursday morning to attend the unveiling of a memorial. You can read a description of this service on the BBC website – a very good blog post written by Paul Fletcher.
Football is hugely popular, and rightly so, it is still the ‘beautiful game’, however in a week where the media went into meltdown because Wayne Rooney said he may leave his club, and the hysteria continues to envelope Liverpool because they have lost a couple of games, let’s take a second to take stock of life and put a few things into perspective…these old footballers swapped football boots for Lee Enfield rifles and the trenches, many of them paid the ultimate sacrifice on the Somme. Soldiers are still putting everything on the line and are being wounded and killed in Afghanistan.
When a footballer gets injured or throws his toys out of the pram to get a few extra ‘noughts’ on his already huge contract, or your club loses a few games…let’s put it into perspective. It isn’t exactly life or death now is it?