Exhibition pays tribute to football’s role at home and at the front during World War One.

Mather & Co has designed The Greater Game – Football & The First World War exhibition that opens, today, December 19, 2014 at the National Football Museum to commemorate the centenary year of WW1 and the roles played by a number of footballers who gave everything for their country.

The exhibition will also explore the fact and fiction behind the famous Christmas Truce matches as well as commemorating the sacrifices made by players from clubs across the land.


The poignant stories include the controversy surrounding the continuation of the 1914/15 football season during hostilities to players of the ‘Footballers Battalion’ who fought and died.

Kevin Moore, National Football Museum Director said: “Even in some of the world’s darkest times, the love of football and the spirit of the game continues. This is captured beautifully in ‘The Greater Game’ with never before seen film footage and first-hand accounts.

“For the first time we are able to reveal the truth behind some of these stories. The historical artefacts on display are unrivalled and we hope that everyone will come to learn more about this fascinating period of footballing history.”

The exhibition includes:

A diary kept by Lt C.B. Brockbank of the 6th Bn Cheshire Regiment detailing the famous Christmas Day football game of 1914.

Wilfred Bartrop’s FA Cup Winner’s Medal awarded to him in 1912 following his part in the success of ‘Battling Barnsley’ who reached the cup final in 1910 and won it in 1912. Bartrop was the final footballer to lose his life in the conflict, as he provided trench mortar support on 7 November 1918, just 4 days before the end of the war.

Individual stories about players; Walter Tull, a former Tottenham and Northampton player who was posthumously awarded a military medal.

A ‘Last Season’ zone which explores the controversy of continuing the league during the war, players being enlisted and the forming of a footballers’ battalion. This zone graphically shows the change from footballers to soldiers – with the last league tables on display.

A ball kicked ‘over the top’ by Captain W.P. Nevill on the first day of The Somme reflects the camaraderie that was found in Europe’s bloodiest battlefields.

Archive cinema footage both celebrating and commemorating football, its players and the effects the war had on it and them.

An exploration database where every footballer that served in the war can be searched with information on their playing and military career. www.footballandthefirstworldwar.com, in partnership with the National Football Museum, features stories and record of every player who served during the conflict, as well as records of wartime football and stories from the wider game.

Stories of how the war affected football and the clubs from whose players went off to serve. Focusing on the anthem ‘Abide with Me’ used as a commemoration hymn for the 1927 Cup Final onwards, it tells the story of some individuals who never played again and those who continued their career.


“Designing this truly poignant exhibition that details the horrors of war, but also our obsession with football as a nation and the part it continued to play regardless of the conflict, has been a reminder of some of the personal stories of WW1,” said Paul Lee, Senior Exhibition Designer, Mather & Co.

“I’m thrilled that we can commemorate those footballers who gave the greatest sacrifice for their country through artifacts, stories, archive cinema footage and personal accounts.”


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