The grandson of a former Ton Pentre player has contacted the Club via its official Twitter account – @TonPentreFC – to share a picture of a Welsh League championship medal from the 1914/15 season – presented 100 years ago.
The winners medal belonged to Bulldogs player Patrick Gallacher and his grandson Ian Gallacher, has also shared a picture of him from around 1911.
According to the history books, 1914/15 was the first time that Ton Pentre had won the Welsh League under the name as it is known to this day. Records suggest that the first time it was known as the Welsh League was in the 1912/13 season.
Patrick played for the Bulldogs both before and after World War I and had also played for Tottenham Hotspur, Luton Town and Partick Thistle.
During the War, Patrick was a member of the 17th Service Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. The core of the battalion was a group of professional footballers, which was the reason for its most commonly used name, The Football Battalion.
The following information is borrowed from Wikipedia:
During the First World War there had been an initial push by clubs for professional football to continue in order to keep the public’s spirits up. This stance was not widely agreed with and public opinion turned against professional footballers. One soldier, serving in France, wrote to a British newspaper to complain that “hundreds of thousands of able-bodied young roughs were watching hirelings playing football” while others were serving their country. The suggestion was even made that King George V should cease being a patron of The Football Association. SirArthur Conan Doyle publicly objected and appealed for footballers to volunteer for service, saying “If a footballer has strength of limb, let them serve and march in the field of battle”.
William Joynson-Hicks formed the battalion on 12 December 1914 at Fulham town hall after Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, suggested it as part of the Pals battalion scheme. England internationalFrank Buckley became the first player to join, out of thirty players who signed up at its formation. The formation was announced to the general public on 1 January 1915.
During Army training, the players were allowed leave on a Saturday to return to their clubs to take part in games. However, the clubs found themselves having to subsidise the train fares as the Army did not pay for them.
By the following March, 122 professional footballers had signed up for the battalion, which led to press complaints as there were some 1800 eligible footballers. These recruits included the whole of Clapton Orient (later to be known as Leyton Orient) – the entire Heart of Midlothian team had signed up prior to the formation of the battalion. In addition to footballers, officials and referees also joined the 17th, along with football fans themselves. Many football players deliberately chose to avoid the battalion by joining other regiments, causing the War Office to initially have difficulties filling the battalion.
Ian Gallacher is looking to find photos and information from around this time, if anyone is able to assist please contact the Club – firstname.lastname@example.org.