Footballs Forgotten Tales Remembered

AS THE nation paused to observe Remembrance Sunday on the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice agreement, sports clubs once again joined the tributes including those to their fellow sportsmen.

But one story less often heard is that of the impact of the First World War on those clubs forced to disband for various reasons.

The most successful of these was Croydon Common, champions of the Southern League Second Division in 1909 and 1913 but other clubs in the area included Kingstonon-Thames, Old Kingstonians and City of Westminster.

Steve Tongue, the author of Turf Wars, a book about the history of football clubs in London, said: “At the beginning of the war there was some controversy.

Football continued for the whole of the season after the war began, unlike rugby and cricket.”

At a famous meeting at Fulham Town Hall in December 1914, many footballers signed up to become part of the so-called Footballing Battalion.

The two clubs to sign up the most players were Clapton (now Leyton) Orient and the now defunct Croydon Common.

And whilst Orient and their 41 players and staff received a special commendation from King George V for their efforts, the story of Croydon Common is much less told.

To read the full article, as well as many other excellent pieces in the South West Londoner’s November e-zine, visit:

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