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When the Whistle Blows: The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great War Paperback – 3 Nov 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: J H Haynes & Co Ltd (3 Nov. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857331035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857331038
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 544,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

ANDREW RIDDOCH has a long-standing interest in military history and football. He grew up in Sheffield and now lives in North Somerset. JOHN KEMP lives in Essex and has followed the mixed fortunes of West Ham for many years.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When The Whistle Blows – History of the Footballers Battalion in the Great War

At the outbreak of war in August 1914, the new football season had only just started once again and all the professional players were involved. The cricket season had come to an end, rugby was an amateur game and had decided not to start their season. As the war continued in to winter 1914 football was gathering a lot of opposition to their continued season.

Many of the complaints were coming from those in the Upper and Upper Middle Classes that the men were not doing their duty towards their country. They were also the section of the community that had opposed the working classes enjoying the sport and sporting professionalism. What these people also conveniently forgot that out of the 1 million men that had volunteered for the service over 50% had come from the footballing community.

It was also noted that while people were complaining about professional football, they did not complain about horse racing, another professional sport of the rich, or the theatres being open. Horse racing was not suspended until June 1918 and then Newmarket close to Sandringham and the King kept going.

When the Whistle Blows is about the raising of the 17th Middlesex Battalion which became known as the footballer’s battalion, from its inception at Fulham Town Hall in December 1914 to when it was disbanded in February 1918. From its training through to all the Battles that the Battalion took part in, those who were killed, those who wounded to those who survived the war.

This is a well-researched book that uses official documents of the battalion such as the Battalion’s War Diary, as well as a wide range of source material, from club programmes, archives and newspapers amongst others.
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