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Football and the First World War

I am currently writing a book on Football and the First World War based on the article of the same name on this website.

I am very keen to contact any football fans who have information about players who joined the army during the First World War.

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See reviews of Rob Cavallini's The Wanderers FC, and Around The World In 95 Games.

The Battle of Highbury

England 3, Italy 2   

Highbury, 14 November 1934


This was Italy’s first match since they had won the 1934 World Cup Final that summer.  Because of England’s withdrawal from FIFA in 1928, the national team had not taken part in the finals held in Italy.  The English press billed the game as the “real” World Cup Final. 

The match set a record, in that it was the first and so far only time where seven players from the same club, Arsenal, started for England.  Both teams were presented to Prince Arthur of Connaught.

The match was violent from the start: the Italian centre-half Luis Monti broke his foot after a challenge from Drake and had to withdraw after only two minutes.  With no substitutes allowed, the Italians had to play the rest of the game with ten men.  Enraged by Monti’s treatment, the visitors repeatedly retaliated against their English opponents: Eddie Hapwood had his nose broken ( and had to be withdrawn for 15 minutes) while Bowden damaged his ankle, Drake was punched and Brook had his arm fractured.

Brook missed a first minute penalty after Drake was fouled by Ceresoli, but scored twice in the first half.  Ted Drake added a third before the break, giving England a 3-0 lead.  According to The Times reporter: ‘The Italians did not mark their men; they did not seem to have any idea of how an English attack would develop, and the English half-backs and forwards were allowed to combine with a smoothness and subtlety which made a difficult game look easy’.

 In the second half the Italians went on the attack.  ‘Suddenly they recovered their strength and their confidence,’ according to The Times, ‘and England, who had consistently attacked, was forced on the defensive.’  The Italians  scored twice and were only denied an equaliser by the woodwork and a series of saves from the England goalkeeper, Frank Moss.  Nevertheless, The Times had no doubt that the best team won: ‘The score was 3-2; Italy played with 10 men, but the true verdict of the match, in spite of appearances, is that England, is still supreme in a game essentially her own’.




Moss (Arsenal), Male (Arsenal), Hapgood (Arsenal), Britton (Everton), Barker (Derby Co), Copping (Arsenal), Matthews (Stoke City), Bowden (Arsenal), Drake (Arsenal) Bastin (Arsenal) Brook (Manchester City)


Ceresoli (Inter); Monzeglio (Bologna); Allemandi (Inter); Ferraris (Lazio), Monti (Juventus), Bertolini (Juventus), Guaita (Roma), Serantoni (Juventus), Meazza (Inter), Ferrari (Juventus), Orsi (Juventus)