– Arsenal and Tottenham put rivalries aside to commemorate footballers of the Somme ahead of North London derby –
– Clubs commemorate former players who served at the Somme as part of The Royal British Legion’s Sport Remembers campaign –
Arsenal and Tottenham are putting their club rivalries briefly aside ahead of this weekend’s North London derby to commemorate the role played by former players on both sides at the Battle of the Somme.
Club rivals and France international teammates 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 100thanniversary 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 Vivian John Woodward, who played over 100 games for Tottenham and scored 63 goals.
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 Victorian 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.
Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris 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 atwww.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.”