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Remarkable story of how 27 Newcastle United players went to serve in World War One

5 years ago

This Friday (18 November) marks 100 years since the Battle of the Somme and Newcastle United & the other 71 EFL clubs are paying tribute to the fallen servicemen, women and former players as part of Remembrance Sunday commemorations and the First World War Centenary.

Across all of the 72 clubs between 12-19th November, there will be a minute’s silence and an EFL wreath laid on the pitch prior to kick-off to remember and honour all of those that have fallen in battle.

An incredible (to us now) 27 Newcastle United players went off to serve in World War One and five didn’t return, with three of them lost in the Somme offensive.

This is an account of their story as featured on the British Legion site:

Three Newcastle United stars killed at the Somme

Tommy Goodwill and Dan Dunglinson were comrades – they played for Newcastle United and went to France with the Northumberland Fusiliers. They died together too, killed on the first day of the Somme. Teammate George Rivers also lost his life in the offensive, one of five Newcastle stars killed as the club sent 27 players to war.

Coal miner Goodwill was a first team star and railway clerk Dunglinson a promising reserves player as Newcastle basked in the glory of three league titles and five FA Cup finals in the seven years to 1911. Goodwill, born in 1894 at Earsdon, Northumberland, was bought for £100 from amateur side Seaton Delaval in 1913 and played 60 games as a popular outside-left.

Centre­-forward Dunglinson, born in Hexham in 1890, had played for Brighton West End and Blyth Spartans before being snapped up by United. He was on the fringes of an international call-up; a reserve when England amateurs beat Germany in Berlin in 1913 and captain of the England North team at trials in Oxford.

Both players joined the 16th “Commercials” of the Northumberland Fusiliers and during training on Salisbury Plain, Dunglinson helped set up and captained the battalion football team which beat Bath City 3-0 in October 1915.

Corporal Dunglinson, 26, was one of the first over the top when the Newcastle Commercials attacked near Thiepval Wood on July 1, 1916. He was also one of the first to fall. Private Goodwill, just 22, was also among 350 soldiers and six officers killed, about a third of the battalion. Their bodies were never found and their names are on the memorial at Thiepval.

Like Dunglinson, George Stephenson Rivers was heading for a place in Newcastle’s first team. A school teacher born in Tudhoe, County Durham, in 1890, he had been signed for £50 from Birtley FC in 1914 as a Magpies’ reserve player. Rivers volunteered as a private in the 14th Battalion Durham Light Infantry and was killed on the Somme on September 13 during fighting for the villages of Flers and Courcelette. He is buried at Englebelmer Communal Cemetery, with the words “Greater love hath no man that a man lay down his life for his friends” on his grave.

Dunglinson had two brothers in the Commercials. William, a 2nd lieutenant, survived the Somme but was killed in action with the 1st Battalion less than three months before the war ended. Victor was wounded in the head and leg June 1916, when his steel helmet saved him. He survived the war, ending up a captain.

The two other Newcastle players to lose their lives in the war were midfielder Richard McGough, killed in April 1917 with the Royal Garrison Artillery and inside-forward Tom Cairns, who died six months later with the Royal Field Artillery. In 1919 Newcastle United unveiled a memorial to their players who served in the war. It is still at St James’ Park today, next to the atrium in the Jackie Milburn Stand.

In 2015 a plaque to the Northumberland Fusiliers was unveiled at Authuile, near where so many of them fell. A box was left with the village, to be opened once a year on Remembrance Day, contains replica footballs and vintage shirts, including one bearing the name of Dunglinson.

Remembering the Somme

This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. The Royal British Legion is calling on communities across the UK to take the time out from their daily lives to honour those who fell.

Make your own commemoration to one of the casualties of the First World War by simply placing a virtual poppy in their memory on the Every Man Remembered website.


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