Kick-offs remember our fallen footballers

Donald Bell, who played for Bradford Park Avenue, as people are being urged to remember the sport's heroes who went to fight in the First World War. Picture: The Woodland Trust/PA Wire.
Donald Bell, who played for Bradford Park Avenue, as people are being urged to remember the sport's heroes who went to fight in the First World War. Picture: The Woodland Trust/PA Wire.
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As football fans headed to Boxing Day matches, supporters were urged to remember the sport’s heroes who went to fight in the First World War.

Supporters and clubs from throughout the English league were given the chance to dedicate trees in “team groves” at the Woodland Trust’s First World War centenary wood at Langley Vale in Epsom, Surrey.

Spearheaded by footballing legend Sir Trevor Brooking and involving the National Football Museum, the scheme aims to create a “beautiful and long lasting” memorial to players sent to the front between 1914 and 1918, many of whom never came home.

Other footballing greats backing the scheme include former Manchester United and England star Sir Bobby Charlton, who urged people to keep the legacy of the footballing heroes of the war alive.

Among those who went to war and never came home were Bradford Park Avenue’s Donald Bell, the first professional English footballer to enlist in the British Army, and the only one to be awarded the Victoria Cross, who died on the Somme in 1916.

Tottenham and Northampton’s Walter Tull, the first black officer to lead white troops into battle, was killed in action in March 1918, while James “Jimmy” Revill was shot during the Battle of Arras and later died from his wounds - the only Sheffield United player who didn’t come home.