Wartime pages from the Scottish Referee join The Archive | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week

This week we have added 122,484 new pages to The Archive. We have added pages to ten of our existing titles.

Titles updated this week include London daily paper the Pall Mall Gazette and one of our military titles, the Volunteer Service Gazette & Military Dispatch. There are also updates to our Irish titles, as well as titles covering the counties of Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire.

This week sees additions to our wonderful collection of sporting newspapers. We have added new pages from the late 1890s and early twentieth century to the Scottish Referee, including the year 1914.

On 4 August 1914 Great Britain declared war on Germany, and pages from the Scottish Referee reveal the unique interrelation between sport and warfare.

Scottish Referee | 17 August 1914

Upon the outbreak of war there was some controversy as to whether or not the football season should be cancelled. Cricket matches were called off, and there was some concern that those playing in and attending football matches ‘should be fighting’ instead. However, it was eventually decided that football should continue, for the ‘relief it affords from the cares and worries of everyday life.’ Furthermore, football represented the main source of income for many families, and it proved to be a useful recruitment tool as the war went on.

Athletics fixtures also continued, despite the reported widespread ‘howling for every able-bodied man to leave his sport.’ Commentary in the Scottish Referee condemns such an attitude:

“Frankly, they are panic-stricken. They were panic-stricken two years ago when England failed to beat America in the Olympic Games and now, as then, they advocate panic measures. Sportsmen should ignore them, and ‘carry on.”

Ignoring this advice, however, were rugby players. No rugby fixtures were played in Scotland during the winter of 1914, and English teams Blackheath and London Scottish cancelled all of their matches. Rugby players were quick to join up, with the Glasgow Academicals losing all of their first fifteen to the forces.

Scottish Referee | 14 September 1914

Indeed, the Scottish Referee offers a completely different attitude to the enlistment of rugby players than the enlistment of footballers, and other sportsmen. In an article directly below one where athletes are encouraged to continue with their sport in spite of the war, rugby players in Scotland are encouraged to ‘join the colours and display the same loyalty to King and country as they have done in the past to amateur sport.’

Other sportsmen upon enlistment were able to use their sporting talents within the army. Cyclists could join the Army Cyclist Corps, including the 6th (Cyclist) Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. Initially, the cycle battalions were deployed along coastal defences on the home front, with their efficacy in trench warfare being more than questionable. However, once the stalemate was broken in 1918 the cycle battalions became more useful, until they were eventually disbanded in 1920.

Updated Titles

This week we have updated one of our recently added titles.

You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation.

Years Covered
Liverpool Echo 1955, 1957-1958, 1967, 1985
Evening Herald (Dublin) 2006
Irish Independent 1917
Scottish Referee 1897-1898, 1901-1903, 1905-1907, 1909-1914
Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General Advertiser 1863-1864, 1866
Berks and Oxon Advertiser 1911
Sligo Champion 2002-2004
Volunteer Service Gazette and Military Dispatch 1903-1908
Coventry Evening Telegraph 1959
Pall Mall Gazette 1904, 1911

Register now and explore the Archive

You can keep up to date with all the latest additions by visiting the recently added page.  You can even look ahead to see what we’re going to add tomorrow.


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