When football lost out to the war


With the advent of World War One came an exodus of young men marching to fight for their country.

As they left, the organisers of home grown pastimes traditionally enjoyed by young men – such as sport – were left to count the cost.

The Mid Sussex Times carried a report of one meeting held to consider the future of football as clubs struggled to field a full team.

The meeting of the Mid Sussex Football League was held at the Station Hotel, Haywards Heath, and was attended by men from areas such as Burgess Hill, Hassocks, Crawley, East Grinstead and Newhaven.

The meeting considered three points: “Considering the great draw by the authorities on men in every sphere of life, is it possible to raise teams during the coming season?

“If it is possible, will not the large amount of money subscribed and being subscribed by the public for national use, probably mean much less financial support for football?

“In such cases, will clubs be financially able to meet their match obligations?”

To ease the financial worries, ‘The Railway Company’ had offered cheap tickets to players travelling to away games.

The meeting was told the Sussex FA had wanted the new season postponed for a month, but this had not happened.

Some club chairmen even called for the league to be postponed until Christmas.

The report ended with the somewhat poignant line: “The chairman expressed the hope that, by November, the war affairs would be brought to a head and that then they would be able to play football again.”

The date was August 18 1914.

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