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“THE CHARGE AT FOOTBALL IS GOOD, THAT WITH THE BAYONET FINER”: THE FORMATION OF THE ... - page 1 / 7

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Soccer History Issue 1

“THE CHARGE AT FOOTBALL IS GOOD, THAT WITH THE BAYONET FINER”: THE FORMATION OF THE FOOTBALLERS’ BATTALION, 1914

W h e n t h e F i r s t W o r l d W a r b r o k e o u t i n A u g u s t 1 9 1 4 , t h e g e n e r a l o p i n i o n i n E n g l a n d w a s t h a t t h i s w a s t o b e a s h o r t - l i v e d a f f a i r t h a t w o u l d b e c o n c l u d e d b y C h r i s t m a s . I t w a s p e r h a p s t h i s s e n t i m e n t , a s m u c h a s t h e i r p u b l i c s t a n c e t h a t t h e p l a y e r s w e r e u n d e r l e g a l l y b i n d i n g c o n t r a c t s f o r t h e d u r a t i o n o f t h e s e a s o n , w h i c h l e d t h e F o o t b a l l a n d S o u t h e r n L e a g u e s t o a n n o u n c e t h a t t h e 1 9 1 4 - 1 5 c a m p a i g n w o u l d r u n a s u s u a l . T h e c l u b s , h o w e v e r , s h o w e d t h e i r s u p p o r t f o r t h e n a t i o n a l c a u s e b y a g r e e i n g t o a s e r i e s o f m e a s u r e s t o s u p p o r t t h e w a r e f f o r t : r e g u l a r c o l l e c t i o n s w e r e h e l d f o r t h e v a r i o u s w a r r e l i e f f u n d s , f a n s a t t e n d i n g m a t c h e s w e r e o f t e n a d d r e s s e d b y l o c a l d i g n i t a r i e s e n c o u r a g i n g t h e m t o e n l i s t , w h i l e s t a d i u m s w e r e m a d e a v a i l a b l e t o t h e m i l i t a r y f o r d r i l l a n d , i n m a n y c a s e s , t h e e r e c t i o n o f m i n i a t u r e r i f l e r a n g e s . T h e p o s i t i o n o f t h e a s s o c i a t i o n g a m e w a s n o t u n l i k e t h a t o f N o r t h e r n U n i o n ( r u g b y l e a g u e ) f o o t b a l l a n d h o r s e r a c i n g , a l l t h r e e b e i n g e s s e n t i a l l y p r o f e s s i o n a l s p o r t s t h a t c o n t i n u e d t h e i r p r o g r a m m e a f t e r t h e o u t b r e a k o f w a r . C r i c k e t w a s i n a s l i g h t l y d i f f e r e n t p o s i t i o n , h a v i n g a l m o s t c o n c l u d e d i t s 1 9 1 4 s e a s o n , a n d d i d n o t f a c e t h e s a m e d i l e m m a a s t o w h e t h e r t o c o n t i n u e o r n o t .

(Athletic News, 19 October 1914)

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