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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superbly well told story., 4 Dec 2008
By 
Michael MCCARTHY "Editor: The Battle Guide" (Hampshire UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: When the Whistle Blows: The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great War (Hardcover)
Guild member Andrew Riddoch, in cooperation with John Kemp, has produced a spectacular book on the 17th (Service) Battalion (1st Football) The Middlesex Regiment. This battalion was composed of professional and amateur footballers and supporters and was raised in consequence of the perceived selfishness and failure of professional football to put its lucrative business to one side at a time when other less privileged young men were dying for their country. Perhaps a theme that has some currency today and this book is absolutely relevant to, and part of, the history of football in England.
The author has to my knowledge spent thousands of hours preparing the research and it has provided the foundation for a brilliant narrative of not only what happened to the battalion, but also to the individuals who served in it. We are taken through the experiences of Walter Tull, a professional footballer for Northampton Town, who overcame the prejudice of the football field to gain the trust and support of his soldiers. Many other professionals gave up lucrative employment to serve in the battalion and in doing so set a remarkable example. This tells their story. In many ways the real tragedy was the men who were wounded and faced the realisation that their career was over. One wonders if in similar circumstances their example would be so readily repeated today.
Many personal accounts have been woven into the narrative which explains the events with the absolute clarity that only comes from an author who really knows the battlefield and can therefore give meaning to what happened. This really is the ideal book for both the serious reader of Great War history and anybody who is fascinated by the history of football.
Absolutely recommended.

By Mike McCarthy
Editor 'The Battle Guide'
Guild of Battlefield Guides
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating WW1 account from a different perspective, 30 Jan 2010
By 
Ian Thumwood "ian17577" (Winchester) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: When the Whistle Blows: The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great War (Hardcover)
I bought this book as a birthday present for my father who is an avid reader of anything to do with World War One and also a football fan. Reading the reviews on Amazon, it was clear that this would make a brilliant present but my Dad was so fascinated by the subject that it was quickly loaned to me as soon as he had finished it.

This book was compelling from the first chapter which looked at the history of the game up until 1914 and detailed the initial hostility towards footballers when war broke out because of their initial decision to continue playing the sport. I would have to say that I found the information about the early days of football to be fascinating as so much was different from the game we love nowadays. Some of the rules that I have always been considered part of football were still only a few years old at the time war was declared and I was amazed to read the names of teams who were big in their time but whose fortunes through lack of finance (not a new thing in football!) and loss of players saw them dissolved prior to 1918. I was hugely intrigued about this history of football.

The chapters on warfare were equally fascinating and the authors should be applauded for keeping the account both lucid and highly readable. The maps that accompany each particular battle are clear and easy to follow and the inclusion of information about the composition of batalions, etc was very helpful having never properly understood the differences between companies, platoons, brigages, divisions, ect. There is much personal history here as well as accounts of the football matches played behind the trenches during the line spent out of the line to provide much human interest to contrast with the military information which puts the 17th Batalion's compaigns in context with the war as a whole. The appendices at the back of the book together with the potted biographies of the footballers ensures that this book is pretty much exhaustive.

In summary, I can praise this fascinating book enough. Easily one of the most interesting and original books about the First World War that I have read. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Football And War, 9 Dec 2008
By 
J. Henderson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: When the Whistle Blows: The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great War (Hardcover)
Football and War. I dont think it can get more interesting than that! The authors give such an insight into the battlefield/battlespace, I was amazed. The attention to the small details, giving life once again to the names of brave men on stone memorials or in the faded matchday programmes of forgotten football clubs, is outstanding. Smoothly written, deeply informative, moving, sensitive and very respectful.

The personal letters and photographs contain such poignant insights that, they alone, justify the intense research so clearly undertaken. The battlefield photo's are equally well chosen and the maps easy to read. This book will also be fascinating to those interested in both the British 6th Brigade and 2nd Division during World War One. It has given me a new awareness, for example, of the conditions and locations within which 17th Middlesex, 13th Essex, the King's (Liverpool Regt) and 2nd South Staffs fought and died.

I wasn't able to put it down until it was finished.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Footballers in the Great War, 12 Jun 2009
By 
R. A. Harkness "Cllr Ronnie Harkness" (Craigavon, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: When the Whistle Blows: The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great War (Hardcover)
A fascinating insight into the 17th Middlesex (Footballers) Battalion and how it was raised to incorporate a plethora of talented footballers, many of them on a professional contract, during the Great War.
Riddoch and Kemp illustrare clearly the initial problems faced by the top soccer clubs in that era with their gifted players joining the armed forces.
A detailed look at their preparation before leaving for the Front and their involvement in many engagements. In September 1916 at Delville Wood the 17th lost Pte William Jonas ( 74 apps for Clapton Orient ) and Sgt Norman Wood ( 88 apps , Stockport County 0. They , along with many comrades lie in Delville Wood Cemetery.
In August 1916, the Battalion suffered many losses in Guillemont including Pte William Gerriish ( 59 apps and a League medal with Aston Villa ); Pte Oscar Linkson ( 55 apps Man. Utd ); Pte Allen Foster ( 146 apps Reading ) and Pte George Scott ( 205 apps Clapton Orient ).
In the following month in action, at Serre, the supreme sacrifice was made by L/Cpl Sid Wheelhouse ( 235 apps, Capt of Grimsby Town ); Sgt Billy Baker ( 193 apps Plymouth Argyle ) and CSM Richard McFadden (144 apps Clapton Orient ).
Engagements at Redan Ridge , Nov 1916 and Oppy Wood , April 1917 followed and it was at Oppy Wood where the popular Pte Bob Whitley ( 320 apps Brighton and Hove Albion ) met his fate.
As the losses had mounted over a period of time , the 17th Middlesex, like so many other battalion, was amalgamated. A wonderful read, which details all ranks of the 17th Battalion and indicating the last resting places and memorials to those who failed to return home.
Cllr Ronnie Harkness , Poeradown, Craigavon, N.Ireland.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such an interesting book it's surprising no one's written it before, 29 Jan 2009
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This review is from: When the Whistle Blows: The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great War (Hardcover)
To declare an interest, my grandfather, Sgt James McCormick (Plymouth Argyle), is mentioned several times in this book so I would have bought it anyway. It was therefore a pleasure and a pleasant surprise, when I read the book, to find it so well written and fascinating even without the personal connection. The only disappointment with this book was when I finished it!

The appendices and notes provide extra detail as required and the maps and photos are well chosen and relevant.

This is a well researched book which will interest anyone who would like to know more about the origins of professional football, and how it developed up to WW1, or anyone who likes to read about WW1 and life in and out of the trenches.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story, 16 Feb 2014
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This book is well written and it is evident that the authors have beeen painstaking in their research. The story of professional footballers, including many international players, volunteering and serving together in the same battalion on the front line during the First World War is hard to believe in the cosseted and well remunerated world of today's footballers, The exploits of the battalion during the Somme and other major battles of the War are very absorbing and also poignant given that so few survived to return to playing football. I throughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who wants a good read and to learn more about the bravery of the men and the horrors of the conflict.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The war of two halves, 4 Feb 2010
This review is from: When the Whistle Blows: The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great War (Hardcover)
Football and War: they are both about winning losing and a draw is not the desired outcome. This book breathes life into long-dead heroes, showing their total commitment as sportsmen and athletes to the terrible competition of war. Their names resound through the wonderfully researched material, providing insight into their individual characters and to the cruel blight of the battles in which they participated. Each page gives a remarkable evocation of the way the footballers went to war and the impact of their outstanding courage. Present and future generations of players should take heed and learn from this book what honour, teamwork and bravery really mean.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars understand my great uncle so much more, 27 Aug 2009
By 
J. D. Punter (Middlesex UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: When the Whistle Blows: The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great War (Hardcover)
wonderful book ,good easy read,no extraneous details,just interesting facts,off to the Somme soon to walk in my great uncles footsteps now i have read this book.
Tuffin Frederick Henry, known as Jack, F176 17th Middlesex survivor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even if you're not a football fan , you will find this new book fascinating!!!, 9 Mar 2010
By 
Bigshopper48 "mac" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: When the Whistle Blows: The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great War (Hardcover)
"When the whistle blows" is an absorbing read. It tells of the trials and tribulations of the 17th Middlesex Regiment, also known as the "Footballl Regiment" in France in World War 1. The wealth of pictures and anecdotal accounts bring to life another facet in the long and dreadful conflict that was the Great War.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive research, 13 Aug 2013
Football had only confirmed itself as the national sport in the decade or two before the outbreak of the First World War. Although players were professional, they did not earn the mammoth wages taken home by modern players. Once the war began in 1914, footballers were initially criticised - a little harshly - for continuing in their jobs while the rest of the country was volunteering for service. When the pressure became too much, a pals' battalion of footballers, the 17th Middlesex, was formed. Riddoch and Kemp explore the controversy of the first few months of the war then embark on a detailed history of the 17th Middlesex. The research is impressive and the story of these sportsmen at war is one of great interest.
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