Tuesday, 5 August 2014

World War 1

As part of their First World War commemorations, The Imperial War Museum has published on its website an interesting article by Amanda Mason entitled '9 Facts About Football in the First World War'. Click on the title to access it.

As some of you will be aware, the relationship between football and war (and peace) has been the subject of several articles published for academic audiences in recent years (see for example here, here, here,  and also here, to identify just 4!)

A quick browse around the internet revealed to Soccermadboffins the above photograph of a team of footballing soldiers wearing gas masks in some bleak, muddy location.  The phenomenon of gas-mask soccer during World War One receives coverage in Ward's (2004) book "Football's Strangest Matches" which reveals that it was a regular part of The Royal Engineers' training towards the end of the war.  At kick-off each player, wearing full uniform, had to put on and secure his gas mark before being able to touch the ball.  The referee would then stop the game during the mach and order gas masks be removed and properly put away, again players could not re-join the game until they had done so.  The purpose of gas-mask football was to familiarise troops with the process of correctly using and storing their gas-masks.

Somewhat eerie, the image serves as a reminder of the conditions of the war which tragically claimed many lives on an industrial scale and might just also be a reality check for one or two 'gallacticos' the next time that they complain about pitch conditions and training methods and facilities!

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