Posted 03 March 2006 - 08:32 AM
The main reason that the 1914-15 season carried on was that no-one in Government asked for it to be suspended - the war was only going to last a few weeks, and there were only 7,000 professional footballers in the country. The only people calling for it to be cancelled were those who were still opposed to professionalism. Football clubs made facilties available for the armed forces to recruit at football matches, and everyone was happy - for a while. However, no-one had anticipated the rush of volunteers, which reduced the number of available spectators and players alike. (In County Durham alone 3,605 players, 1,102 officials and 615 other members had enlisted by May 1915.) Average Football League gates fell by 50% as early as October 1914, and just about every club made a loss on the season. As a result, the league programme for 1915-16 was cancelled, and local competitions were set up in the North-West, the Midlands, and London. A key feature of these was a prohibition on payments to players, other than expenses. Various minor leagues made similar arrangements, but as the war dragged on getting a team together became increasingly difficult, and sometimes teams had borrow spectators to make up their numbers. These local competitions continued till the end of 1918-19.
Other professional sports continued during the War - horse racing wasn't banned until June 1918, and even then Newmarket was allowed to continue - one wonders if its proximity to Sandringham had anything to do with this.
Another problem was the requisitioning of grounds by the military. Part of Newcastle United's pitch was dug up in April 1915 for the erection of temporary offices for the War Office accounts department, and the main stand at White Hart Lane was converted into a gas-mask factory. Non-league clubs suffered the most - their grounds were ideal for military drill, and when this involved detachments of the Royal Artillery practising field gun drill the pitch was left in a very poor condition.
Finally - three footballler casualties to add to the list:
Richard McFadden, William Jonas, George Scott (Clapton Orient) all KIA - more details on the Leyton Orient website.