The story line in Flowers of the Forest has the entire Brantford FC joining the 58th Battalion under Lt. Col. Genet. This idea wasn’t unheard of in the Great War.
The entire team at Clapton Orient FC joined up.
Every member of east London football team Clapton Orient joined the army in 1915.
After the outbreak of war in 1914, football matches continued uninterrupted. But it wasn’t long before young, fit footballers became the target of the white feather movement, who accused them of being unpatriotic cowards.
The 1914-15 season was the last before the Football League was suspended. Clapton Orient (now Leyton Orient) played their last match against Leicester Fosse (later Leicester City), and gave their 20,000 home supporters a cheering leaving present with a 2-0 victory.
The club was the first complete team to join up with 41 players and staff from Clapton Orient (now known as Leyton Orient), joined the 17th Btn Middlesex Regiment, which became known as the Football Battalion with 122 professional footballers signed up.
In July 1916 the battalion took part in the Battle of the Somme. Thirteen Orient players were wounded. Some never played football again and three – Centre Forward William Jonas, Inside Forward Richard McFadden and Wing Half George Scott – lost their lives serving club and country.
Their sacrifice did not go unnoticed and King George V paid tribute at the first match post the war saying “Good luck to Clapton Orient FC, no football club had paid a greater price to patriotism”
For more information, click here. Clapton Orient FC