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Football’s Fallen Heroes of WW1

Football’s Fallen Heroes of WW1

Today many of us are paying our respects to the nearly 1 million British and Commonwealth that fell in the conflict. Collector, Michael Wallace has added his own tribute this year by releasing a unique set of 24 cards remembering footballers that fought and died for their country in the Great War.

The set of 24 cards depicts men from various regiments of the British Army (but not surprisingly nearly half of the set is made up of men of the 17th Middlesex Regiment or ‘Football Battalion’). Each card features a photo of the player with the regimental cap badge in the top left corner and a poppy in the top right with the reverse of the cards giving a short biography of the teams they played for and the particular battle they lost their lives in.

We asked Mick what it was that prompted the production of the set:

“I was checking my Churchman’s cards and came across Jimmy Spiers and thought that people often see the front of the card and skim over details on the back without going any further – I wanted to know more about the man’s later life. Reading up on it I was very taken by his story. Then I looked at Richard McFadden of Clapton Orient and read about how 3 of their players joined the footballers battalion and all were killed in action. Then onto the Hearts team who had 7 players killed. I like my football and being ex military I thought I wanted to do something rather than just sit reading about it this being the 100th Anniversary so I got into contact with John Fitzhugh who does his own cards. It was originally meant to be just a private set for myself but the further we went we both thought it should be made available for collectors and not just of cards but WW1 and football enthusiasts and  so I spent hours and hours researching football sites, WW1 sites, The Commonwealth graves commission site and local area heritage sites. I wanted the red poppy to be shown and the players regimental badge and that’s how we did it – the set is about respect and remembering”.

I’m sure it isn’t only Mick that will find this subject fascinating (as well as often tragic) to read about. Evelyn Lintott (No. 9) for example was the first football player to be commissioned and served in the 15th (Service) Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment (The Leeds Pals). Much like today the public followed his activities as their beloved Leeds City Half-Back went to the trenches along with thousands of other men from nearby communities. It will come as little surprise to many that Lt. Lintott was KIA on July 1st 1916 – the first day of the Battle of the Somme. At the time the Yorkshire Evening Post reported on Lintott’s death:

“Lieutenant Lintott’s end was particularly gallant. He led his men with great dash, and when hit the first time declined to take the count. He drew his revolver and called for further effort. Again he was hit but struggled on, but a third shot finally bowled him over.”

Scan 261

Another interesting player featured in the set is Walter Tull (Northampton Town) who joined the Middlesex Regiment and became the first non-white NCO in the British Army. Tull was killed during the spring offensive of 1918 and is remembered on the Arras memorial.

Collectors will note the title of the series states ‘1st Series’ and so we asked whether we could expect a second set. Mick confirmed that he has a list of over 80 footballers and hinted that he may consider branching out to cricket and rugby.

It’s a great idea Mick and it’s another way we can remember and learn more about the sacrifices these men made.

For collectors interested in getting a set you can order by following the link below. We have also added a table so you can see the teams and the men included in the 1st series.

NameTeam (before entering service)RegimentKilledAwards & Decorations
Donald BellBradford City17th Yorkshire Regiment (The Green Howards)10/07/16VC
Wilfred BartropLiverpoolRoyal Artillery07/11/18
Sandy TurnbullManchester United17th East Surrey Regiment03/05/17
Edward BellPortsmouth17th Middlesex Regiment24/03/18MC & Bar
Jimmy SpiersLeeds CityCameron Highlanders20/08/14MM
Allen FosterReading17th Middlesex Regiment08/08/16
George ScottClapton Orient17th Middlesex Regiment16/08/16
William JonasClapton Orient17th Middlesex Regiment27/07/16
Evelyn LintottLeeds City15th West Yorkshire Regiment01/07/16
Walter TullNorthampton Town17th Middlesex Regiment25/03/18
Leigh RooseWoolwich Arsenal9th Royal Welsh Fusiliers07/10/16MM
Fred GriffithsWest Ham UnitedSherwood Foresters30/10/17
Bob TorranceBradford CityRoyal Field Artillery24/04/1918
Eddie LathertonBlackburn RoversRoyal Field Artillery14/10/17
Richard McFaddenClapton Orient17th Middlesex Regiment23/10/14MM
Bob WhitingBrighton & Hove Albion17th Middlesex Regiment28/04/17
Frank HeshamOldham AthleticRoyal Garrison Artillary17/11/15
Sidney WheelhouseGrimsby Town17th Middlesex Regiment19/09/15
'Pat' FlanaganWoolwich ArsenalArmy Service Corps31/08/17
Billy BakerPlymouth Argyle17th Middlesex Regiment22/10/16MM
James WilliamsMilwall17th Middlesex Regiment05/06/16
Billy GerrishChesterfield17th Middlesex Regiment08/08/16
Frank CannonPort ValeEssex Regiment15/02/16
James SpeedleHeart of Midlothian7th Cameron Highlanders25/09/15
Tom GracieHeart of Midlothian16th Royal Scots25/10/16
Duncan CurrieHeart of Midlothian16th Royal Scots01/07/16
Ernest EllisHeart of Midlothian16th Royal Scots01/07/16
Henry WattleHeart of Midlothian16th Royal Scots01/07/16
James BoydHeart of Midlothian16th Royal Scots03/08/16

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