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100 years ago today – The Sterner Game

By on September 7, 2014
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Glasgow Accies’ last match of the 1913-14 season took place on March 28 at historic Hamilton Crescent, Partick, beating old city rivals West of Scotland 27-8, writes Hugh Barrow. 100 years ago today on September 7 1914 this letter, pictured, was sent by the secretary of West to his players urging them to sign up for His Majesty’s Services – there was to be no 1914-15 season.

The war was about to strike a savage blow to Anniesland Balgray West and the whole of Scottish Rugby with casualty lists almost incomprehensible nowadays. The illustrated poem by Leo Munro, a sports journalist and artist, sums up the mood:

Manhood of Britain, our country is calling
Put by your toys, for no longer ‘tis play
Ours will be no shirking while comrades are falling
Rally we now, and let ours be “the day”.

Prove we the lessons our clean sports have taught us,
The pluck that endures and the scorning to yield,
No matter the strength of the foemen who fought us –
That was the spirit that won us the field.

That was the object of sport as a training,
Each for his side, none for personal fame.
Prove now its value, give all uncomplaining,
Give for your country, though sterner the game.

The Accies XV who beat West on that March afternoon to a man enlisted in the forces at the outbreak of war. Eight were killed, six wounded and only one returned unscathed.

Glasgow Academicals 1st XV 1913 /14: for their selfless sacrifice they were remembered then and now –

Eric T Young – Capt., Cameronians, awarded the 14/15 Star, killed at Gallipoli 1915. Arthur A Russell – Lieut., Highland Light Infantry, killed on the Somme 1916. Robert A Gaillie – Capt., Glasgow Yeomanry, awarded the Military Cross and Belgian War Cross, survived the war. George L MacEwan – Lieut., Highland Light Infantry, awarded the 14/15 Star, killed at Gallipoli 1915.  Archibald D Templeton – Lieut., Cameronians, killed at Gallipoli 1915. Frank W Sandeman – Highland Light Infantry, wounded in Mesopotamia 1918. George H Warren – Highland Light Infantry, survived the war.

Thomas Stout – Lieut., Cameronians, awarded the 14/15 Star, killed at Gallipoli 1915. George P Speirs – Major, Highland Light Infantry, awarded the French WC, killed 1918. John R Warren – 2nd Lieut., Royal Engineers, awarded the Military Cross, wounded and survived the war. Arthur D Laird (captain) – 2nd Lieut., Highland Light Infantry, killed on the Somme 1916. John S Smith – Highland Light Infantry, injured at Gallipoli 1915. Thomas M Burton – 2nd Lieut., Highland Light Infantry, awarded the Military Cross, wounded 1916. Charles W Andrew – Highland Light Infantry, awarded the Military Cross, wounded on the Somme, at Ypres, and at Arras. John M Sandeman – 2nd Lieut., Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, wounded in Palestine. William Barras – 2nd Lieut., Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, awarded the Military Medal, killed in France 1916.

When Armistice Day arrived in 1918 some 950 former pupils of our three associated schools High School of Glasgow, Glasgow and Kelvinside Academies had lost their lives. The term kindred club takes on a deeper resonance when your share a War Memorial which we do, with the peal of bells hung above Oran Mor raised by public subscription to remember the fallen especially the former pupils of Glasgow and Kelvinside Academies.

The West of Scotland FC history records 31 members did not answer roll call in 1918, including Scottish cap Bedell Sivright, a Naval Surgeon who died at Gallipoli in the same campaign that claimed four of the Accies team for that last match against his old club.

“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”

* Hugh Barrow is a former secretary of Glasgow Hawks. He ran for Victoria Park AAC and in 1961 set an under-16s record for a 4min 10.9sec mile.

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