Soldiers as athletes

August 30, 1897
Whether Wellington did or did not say that the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing field at Eton appears rather obscure, but there is no questioning the fact that our military chiefs of today believe in athletics, and on the principle that “what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,” the rank and file of the army now have nearly as many opportunities as the officers of indulging in field sports. And that “Tommy Atkins” avails himself to some purpose of the opportunities given him is pretty evident from the long list of soldiers who have become prominent in the world of sport as runners, cricketers, footballers, &c.

The present mile champion, F.E. Bacon, was a soldier at one period of his career; so was Dickenson (another mile runner), who ran Cummings, of Paisley to a yard in a mile race in the very fast time of 4 min. 20 secs.; Hartley, of the Royal Engineers, ran prominently in at least one Sheffield handicap.

Among cricketers we have V. Barton (Hampshire), J. Easby (Kent), and Davenport (Cheshire and M.G.C.).

But it is at football that we find “Tommy” distinguishing himself most, and an Association team of ex-soldiers now playing for various League and other clubs. The Kentish clubs in particular appear partial to military players, and at the present time there is hardly a prominent team in Kent that does not contain one or more men who are, or have been, soldiers.

Amongst footballers playing for prominent southern clubs who have worn her Majesty’s uniform are: – McKay and McKie (Southampton St. Mary’s), Hammet (Cowes), Cannon, Cassidy, and Fitzpatrick (Reading), and Timoney (Kirkby).

Among the players doing duty for the English and Scottish League clubs we have the following who at one time were the red coat: – J. Ashcroft (Darwen), Walter Bull (Notts County), Jim Hingerty (Stoke), Ted Killean (Blackburn Rovers), George Fleming (Wolverhampton Wanderers), William Richards and Arthur Kelsey (West Bromwich Albion), George Barker, Bob Menham, and Billy Stewart (Everton), Jack Reynolds (Aston Villa), and Tommy Hyslop (Glasgow Rangers). In the above list there are three internationals – Fitzpatrick (Ireland), Hyslop (Scotland), and Reynolds, the latter enjoying the unique distinction of possessing caps for two countries, he having played for both Ireland and England.

The above is sufficient to show that our army is not composed of such washed-out material as some of their critics would have us believe. – “Golden Penny.”
(Lancashire Evening Post: August 30, 1897)

Private Arthur Kelsey, West Bromwich (Lloyd’s Weekly News: October 13, 1895):


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