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For Club and Country: remembering football’s war dead

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

This summer, the FSF is supporting the Woodland Trust and the National Football Museum’s new initiative, For Club and Country, which aims to create lasting living memorials to footballers who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War I.

After the end of the Great War thousands of trees were planted as part of a drive to rebuild the country’s timber stocks following the demands of the four-year long conflict. Many though, were rooted in towns and cities as memorials to fallen soldiers.

Now the Woodland Trust and National Football Museum want to reboot that tradition and are looking for football fans to get involved by honouring the players killed in the Great War in the ‘football battalions’ and beyond.

Sir Trevor Brooking is one of the high-profile figures backing the initiative, becoming an ambassador for Club and Country.

“During and after the conflict, trees were planted in remembrance,” Sir Trevor said. “Marking the loss of life and the sacrifices made.

“This is why we feel strongly about continuing this tradition by creating living memorials as a fitting tribute to football’s involvement.”

The campaign will also honour the women who kept the flame of football alive at home while men fought abroad. During the war, women took up traditional male roles in munitions factories and formed their own football teams to support the war effort.

A crowdfunding page has been established making it easy for supporters to donate to the campaign, with the money being used to plant the memorial trees at the Woodland Trust’s Centenary Wood at Langley Vale in Surrey.

Supporters who contribute will have their name and club added to a roll of honour on the For Club and Country website, as well as a spot in the permanent exhibition at the NFM in Manchester.

Andy Walsh, FSF national game development officer, said: “The First World War was a brutal experience, claiming millions of lives and had an immeasurable impact on our country.

“Football didn’t escape that – countless amateur and professional players were killed in the conflict, including an FA Cup winner just days before the war ended.

“So we’re really pleased the Woodland Trust and National Football Museum have given supporters the means of creating a lasting tribute.”

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

Partners

  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • SD Europe