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The Final Season A moving narrative history of the professional soccer players who fought and died in World War I with a foreword by Gary Lineker In 1914 as today successful soccer players were heroes and role models They were the sporting superstars of their time; symbols of youth health and vigor Naturally enough when war broke out they felt it was their duty to join up and fight Between 1914 and 1918 213 professional players fell in action Some teams lost half their players either killed or else so badly injured in mind and body that they were never to play again The Final Season is the powerfully moving account of these young men who swapped the turf of the pitch and the cheers of the fans for the freezing mud of the battlefield and the terrible scream of shell fire It follows them as they leave their fans and families behind undergo training and then travel on to the bloody arenas of war Ypres Gallipoli the Somme Passchendaele Nigel McCrery paints these men in vivid detail From their achievements on the soccer pitch to their heroic conduct on the battlefield we will learn of the selfless courage and determination they displayed in the face of adversity For far too many we will also learn when and how they made the ultimate sacrifice

About the Author: Nigel McCrery

Nigel Colin McCrery is an English screenwriter and ex police officer

6 thoughts on “The Final Season

  1. Paul Paul says:

    The Final Season Today we find professional footballers are out of touch and wealthy beyond most people’s dreams rarely mix with their fans As a football fan I always find how out of touch we are with the stars of today and sometimes those stars do repay us by doing some charitable acts or appearance Football shirts during the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday we see the poppy on their shirt The Final Season by Nigel McCrery reminds us that some footballers 100 years on still have no known grave amongst the poppy fields of western EuropeMcCrery has selected a few of the very many footballers who went to war in 1914 some of whom came home and some who died on the field of war Some who were brave on the football pitch but even braver at war some won the VC but as the First World War disappears in to the realms of history they stories have died This book brings to life that the people’s heroes on a Saturday served alongside their fans in the trenches and at sea We are taken from August 1914 when the sun was blazing and war in England seemed a million miles away through the events of August 1914 the start of the football season in England and in Scotland and the reasons why the peace was about to break McCrery shows us the dilemma that the Football Association was in on whether to suspend the season or carry on How by carrying on the ire of the national press and national figures rained down on the players and the football clubsWe learn that Don Bell a player with Newcastle United was one of the first to sign up for war duty after asking Bradford Park Avenue FC to release him from his contract so that he could join up which they did We also learn that Alexander McGregor a Spurs player had a footballing first early in the war in that he was the first footballer to be killed in actionWe are reminded of Sir George McCrae’s actions in setting up a Pal’s Battalion in Scotland with many of the Hearts players signing up to be part of the 16th Royal Scots and that in England the 17th Middlesex Battalion was set up in which many English based footballers served We are taken through the war careers of both battalions on the way meeting a number former playersWe also read about the Christmas Day truce in 1914 up and down the trench lines and in various places games of football broke out We read excerpts from newspapers and letters telling us of the truce and the games that broke out that dayWe are given pen portraits of various footballers and their war exploits such as William Angus a Celtic player who was awarded the highest medal for gallantry and was presented with the Victoria Cross at Buckingham Palace by the King We are told the story of how Angus gained the honour and survived the war We are given a fair picture of life in the trenches and how some survived and how others diedThe book also covers the story of Walter Tull who broke down barriers not only his football career at Northampton Town and Spurs by being one of the early black professional players but becoming the first black commissioned officer in the army It also tells of his last moment when a former goalkeeper tried to recover his body from where it fell but unable to due to the enemyThe Final Season is an excellent book to engage with people of all ages about the First World War proving that sometimes it is easy to explain the slaughter and the comradeship through examples we can identify with A generation of men were wiped out during the War and this book shows that it claimed the lives of the famous and the ordinary alike It can also ask the fan to look at your own football club and see which soldiers served and who paid the ultimate price Recently the Professional Footballers Association unveiled a tribute out on the former battlefields to the footballing battalions so that their sacrifice will not be forgottenThe Final Season is an interesting and at times heart rendering book to read because unlike other military history books this does not talk of events as if they are some event on a map in the past This takes events from the war and brings it down to the person As in all wars men serve and men die it becomes personal when we put names to them and their story is told This book tells their stories of their war that they may have been gods on the pitch worshiped by thousands each week but the bomb and the bullet does not care who you are This is an excellent book well worth reading and sharing with others

  2. Peter Upton Peter Upton says:

    This is a collection of stories about mainly professional footballers who fought and mostly died in the First World War We tend to think of vanity and lax morals as elements of modern society but tucked away in this book of heroic actions are little insights into the life of a superstar footballer 100 years ago such as the player who was noted for his passing ability but ' could never pass a mirror' and the larger than life character who would travel to all away matches a day early to enjoy the delights of another of his female fansHowever the real reason I am writing this review is to honour the sheer bravery exhibited by so many of these men not just the footballers in this atrocious war As an example I would like to mention William Angus who insisted on crawling out to within yards of the enemy trenches to bring back a wounded comrade Having lifted his comrade up he was spotted and throughout the journey back he was targeted with bullets and hand grenades Falling down a number of times from being hit he kept getting up and continued dragging his comrade back to safety To give his colleagues time to drag the wounded soldier into the relative safety of the trench William Angus then paraded along the edge of the trench as a target for the enemy fire Once his comrade was safe Angus allowed himself to collapse into the trench where it was found he had been wounded 40 yes 40 times Amazingly both men survived their injuries and the war although William Angus lost an eye and had to have a foot amputated For his courage that day he was awarded the Victoria Cross which is the highest award for gallantry it is possible to be given in Britain unfortunately most of these are given posthumously Happily both William Angus and the wounded soldier he saved went on to live for another 40 years

  3. Pete daPixie Pete daPixie says:

    We think of todays highly paid footballing superstars as fairly recent history but in fact in the early years of the twentieth century top professional players were earning around 4 pounds per week euivalent to 400 pounds A century ago these players were venerated and followed by fans much like today It is incredible to think that with the formation of footballing 'pals' battalions some clubs lost large proportions of their playersNigel McCrery's 'The Final Season' 2014 documents the many tragedies when the great game collided with the Great War Between 1914 18 over two hundred professional players were killed in action answering the call for King and country Many others had their playing days ended through wounds sustained in the war In this poignant book some of those footballers who fought and died in WWI have their footballing careers fully detailed followed by their service records in the various theatres of conflictCertainly a most uniue publication Having visited many sites on the Somme Arras Ypres Vimy and Passchendaele I don't doubt there were many hundreds of thousands of men from both sides that I would describe as superstars

  4. Daniel Greear Daniel Greear says:

    Museums always have interesting books They have books that you can't seem to find anywhere else and ones that you wouldn't normally look for A few weeks ago I was traveling through France with some close friends along what was one hundred years ago the Western Front We stopped at the Theipval Memorial a giant structure which memorializes the British dead of the Somme Offensive of 1916 who have no known grave After gaping at the memorial upon which are inscribed some 72000 names we made our way to the gift shop One of my friends bought this book for me and I felt a duty to immediately read it My friend is English so soccer errfootball is in his blood I have become uite the fan myself although I admittedly don't know much of the sport's history This book the Final Season was a short but surprisingly clever read on the footballers who fought and in many instances died in World War I As I read this book I tried to imagine what it would be like if Wayne Rooney or Harry Kane died in war It is hard to imagine because our generation is far removed from a period of time where such members of society would have to forcibly take up arms Even crazier for me to imagine since I'm an American I tried to picture Tom Brady or Peyton Manning dying in battle Imagining that scenario put me in the mindset of the era and people of which this book is written about Many of the great English Welsh and Scottish footballers players who were the darlings of their clubs and towns went off to war and didn't return The most striking story in this book was that of Walter Tull Tull was one of the first black footballers who went off to war and became an officer in the British Army despite laws at the time that prevented blacks from becoming officers He proved to be brave and well respected by his men and was ultimately killed in March of 1914 while leading his men in battleLest We Forget

  5. Edo De Vries Edo De Vries says:

    The Final Season tells the story of professional football players joining the BEF after the outbreak of war and how some of these brave men conducted themselves in the Great War while also being somewhat of a narrative as to how the war panned out The style of writing is very pleasant which makes it perfect for a uick read about two of my main interests the Great War and football The best thing about the book for me was that within a page or two i got the feeling of having a connection with some of the remarkable characters like the great LR Roose which story is fairly well known with football enthousiasts in the book All in all a great little read I can thorougly advice anyone who likes either football the Great War or like myself both

  6. Jorgen Lundgren Jorgen Lundgren says:

    Good book as it written towards the end perhaps it is the very nature of football a competition in which two opposing sides strive against each other for victory that give their stories such fascination and pathos In the end for all that is vast ugly and cruel what is war but another such competition? We instinctively recoil from the fact that these men in the prime of life were forced to abandon a competitive sport which at its best can build bonds of community and humanity in order to take part in a conflict that did nothing but tear such bonds apart

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