My previous blog mentioned the diversity of items I accumulate and highlighted a 1950s theatrical archive compiled by artistes “Desiree and Pierre” and to emphasise this diversity another recent listing in Reynard Collectables ebay store is another collection but this time an album of footballing photos and ephemera put together by a British serviceman in Italy towards the end of WW2.
There are many references to wartime emergency football in this country with players sometimes turning out for a team other than the one they were signed for often because of where they were stationed for their National Service.
However this seems to be mostly “normal” chaps turning out for their regiment or unit in various locations around Italy such as Florence, Siena, Ancona, Arezzo etc. I did manage to do a small amount of research though and found one or two professional footballers in the various teams (there were a number of match programmes in the album, so lots of useful names to research) including the wonderfully named Cpl Smellie whi I think turned out for St. Johnstone in Scotland, I also found at least one player who before the war was with Wolverhampton Wanderers. I would expect with more research more illustrious names might crop up but time didnt permit any more research much as I would have liked too!
There are many photos inside large stadiums, Florence in particular, with lots of action photos, medal presentations and team line ups including that of 15 HQ Signals team who it seems had won the Florence Command knockout competition as well as being champions of both 55 Area and District 1.
I like the programme also and in amongst these are matches against a Polish Army XI (in Siena) and also a Czechoslovakian Army XI (played in Florence) with all the opposition players and some of the “home” players having signed the programme. I am sure with some research more of the history of some of these players careers back in their homeland could be found? There is also a nice photo of the Polish team before the match along with a few action shots and also a small press report on the Czechoslovakian match.
All in all a superb and rare item of an aspect of the war that is not often shown in such detail and one that will as mentioned benefit from more research.
The description and more pictures can be found in the Reynard Collectables ebay listing here.WW2 Allied Football in Italy