A selection of England internationals have come together at St George's Park to honour the 14 international team members, two of whom played for Burnley FC, who served their country in the First World War.
As part of the ‘For Club and Country’ project, backed by the Woodland Trust and National Football Museum, 14 commemorative trees were planted near the national football centre as part of a permanent First World War Centenary memorial for the 14 players, two of whom - Edwin Mosscrop and Richard Watson - played for the Clarets.
The conflict, which lasted from 1914 to 1918, saw the nation’s top male footballers bravely sign up to go to war, leaving the players’ tunnel for the trenches of the front line. While the men were at war, female footballers kept the ‘beautiful game’ alive, playing in front of thousands of national supporters.
Those commemorating the players in the tree-planting ceremony included England senior men’s quartet Joe Hart, John Stones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Ashley Young, alongside England senior women’s international Laura Bassett and Women's U20s' Megan Finnigan.
Completing the group was Men's U21s internationals Dom Solanke, Fikayo Tomori, James Maddison, and Joe Worrall, the Men's U20s internationals Josh Sims and Sam Field, and the Men's U18 duo Lewis Gibson and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Also in support of the event, the National Football Museum made the only known surviving Somme football, the ball ‘kicked over the top’ during the famous Christmas truce between British and German troops, available for use. The ball is owned by the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment and was used by Captain W.P. Nevill as a means of galvanising and reassuring troops in the most desperate of circumstances.
The ‘For Club and Country’ project aims to create a woodland of dedicated trees in team groves at the Woodland Trust’s Centenary Woods at Langley Vale in Epsom. Everyone who dedicates a tree will be remembered in a digital roll of honour while the wood will create a lasting, living legacy to all those who bravely risked their lives in the First World War.
Fans can help plant trees in remembrance by texting WOODS ENG to 70025 to donate £5 or visit forclubandcountry.org.uk.