Down Memory Lane

T B Mitchell in goals wearing his tin helmet
T B Mitchell in goals wearing his tin helmet

For the men of Midlothian, football was a major part of life. Every town and village in the area had at least one team, sometimes several.

When World War One broke out in 1914, footballers both professional and amateur readily swapped their strips for Army khaki.

Newtongrange United, for example, had 43 players and committee men sign up, little wonder that the club folded in 1917.

It would be wrong, however, to assume that their interest in football diminished whilst they served overseas.

Many battalions had football teams and amongst the best of these was that of the local Territorial Battalion, the 8th Royal Scots.

The first man killed in France was Sergeant David Grieve, from Tranent, who had played for Newtongrange Star FC. Sadly, he was shot by a sniper on November 15, 1914.

Despite the popular image, some would say myth, the 8th Royal Scots did not play football in no-mans-land on Christmas Day. Their truce was short lived and more mundane, they used the time to retrieve fallen comrades, killed the week before Christmas.

John Duncan’s full feature appears in this week’s Advertiser. On sale now.