A French letter from Matt Busby


Saturday, February 17 – 1940
It was good to receive a letter from Matt Busby, the Liverpool captain who is touring France with the British Army team under my good friend Major Webb whom I have met many times in London and Aldershot. The Major is a firm Evertonian!

Matt Busby, flanked by Everton’s Joe Mercer and Liverpool’s Don Welsh.
Mercer Busby Welsh

Matt says: “Just a few lines to say how well we are enjoying this trip. It’s been great from the moment I stepped on the train at Lime-street and found myself among a batch of Canadians. No, they were not soldiers this time, but wives who have come over from Canada to join their soldier husbands.

“Our crossing was not without its adventures. Seven of us were sea-sick, Tommy Lawton being first victim.

“We took the train to – as Jack Warner would say – “Blue Pencil,” and the majority of us being in the Army Physical Training School, we had plenty of interesting talk. On arrival we were welcomed in the true French way, and everyone seemed full of the matches to come.

“Last Saturday we donned our boots and had some ball practice. Stan Cullis and myself were the last in, and when we started getting dressed we found that some practical joker had hidden one of our boots.

“We sat there with only one boot on and Andy Beattie – the one we suspected as the joker – remarked, ‘I thought you two could kick with both feet,’ meaning the old trick of making a one footed player go out kicking with only one boot on.

“We did a spot of sight-seeing, and Colonel Green laid a wreath at the tomb of —– (the “Blue Pencil”), and later we visited —– (“Blue Pencil”), and other interesting places.

“When we got to the ground it was packed with about 35,000 and both teams got a rousing reception. The game was a real teaser, although played in the most friendly spirit. The result, 1-1, was fair to both teams. After a splendid exhibition neither deserved to lose.

“The French forward line was the best I have seen from any Continental side. The game ended with handshakes all round, and was followed by a banquet.

“Yes, we are having a splendid time – French people are making sure of that. With very best wishes, Matt.”
(Evening Express, 17-02-1940)

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