Club rivals and France international team-mates Laurent Koscielny and Hugo Lloris have both joined in The Royal British Legion’s Sport Remembers campaign, calling on the nation’s sporting organisations, clubs and individuals to commemorate the role of sportspeople on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
Many professional footballers made the ultimate sacrifice for their country during the First World War including former Arsenal players Tommy Farrell and Leigh Roose – the goalkeeper known as the finest penalty stopper of his era who helped to change the laws of the beautiful game - and 14 Spurs players, including Archibald Wilson and Norman Wood, who both died at the Battle of the Somme.
Vivian John Woodward, one of our first true star players who featured in our pre-Football League days, netted our first ever goal in the league in 1908-09 and scored 100 goals in 197 appearances in our colours, was wounded and, although he was able to fight on for the duration, his injuries forced him to retire from football at the cessation of hostilities.
Other footballers who gave up their careers and their lives for their country include former Crystal Palace defender Donald Simpson Bell VC who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery and Manchester United's Sandy Turnbull, the Wayne Rooney of his day who won two league titles and two FA Cups before falling at the Somme.
Hugo, our goalkeeper and captain (pictured, above, holding a picture of Vivian Woodward), said: “Many footballers left the football pitch for the battlefield during the Somme, making the ultimate sacrifice for their countries – both in Britain and in France. So many men and footballers sacrificed so much for us and I’m proud to be part of The Royal British Legion’s Sport Remembers campaign and commemorate the role of sportsmen including Tottenham and Arsenal players on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.”
The Sport Remembers campaign is being supported by almost every major sporting organisation in the country including The FA, the Premier League, the PGA and Team GB. To help local clubs commemorate the anniversary The Royal British Legion has released a toolkit including a souvenir pennant, poems, readings and music – it was launched by Wimbledon tennis champion Andy Murray last month and can be requested at www.britishlegion.org.uk.
Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, The Royal British Legion’s Head of Remembrance, said: “The Battle of the Somme is the costliest in British history. With sport in the UK suspended for the war, athletes and players served and fell in great numbers at the Somme. The Royal British Legion is calling on sports at all levels to remember their contribution by holding their own commemorative event and we hope the toolkit will help with this. Sport has the ability to touch every community and we hope that Sport Remembers will unite our nation in ensuring their sacrifice is never forgotten.”