The story

of Maurice Woodward.

Maurice

was born in Enderby in 1891, and played local football there before joining

Leicester Fosse as a centre-half in August 1912. 

Hampered

by an ankle injury he only played two games for the Fosse. He signed for

Southern League Southend United in July 1914, but war broke out before he could

play for them. When the First World War broke out, league football continued

for the whole of the following season. 

Footballers

came in for much criticism for ‘not doing their bit’. This led to the

‘Footballers’ Battalion’ (otherwise known as the 17th Middlesex Battalion)

being created in December 1914 at a meeting at Fulham Town Hall. Quite soon

professional footballers with connections to over 70 clubs, including Leicester

Fosse, signed up. 

The

Battalion was brought up to strength (about 1,000) by amateur players, officials

and football fans eager to serve alongside their favorite players. 

In

November 1915, Maurice went to France with the Footballers’ Battalion where he

served under Bradford City’s England international Major Frank Buckley, who

later became a famous manager at Wolverhampton Wanderers. The battalion first

saw serious action on the Somme, losing over 500 officers and men between 25

July and 11 August 1916. 

On 24 July

1916, the day before his Battalion’s serious involvement in the battle, (which

had already been raging for three weeks), Maurice, by now a sergeant, played

for a team of NCOs against a team from ‘B’ Company. One of the players in the

‘B’ Company team was Joe Mercer, the father of the famous player Joe Mercer,

who later managed Manchester City against Leicester City in the 1969 FA Cup

Final. 

The

following day the Footballers’ Battalion moved up to the front with a fighting

strength of 38 officers and 872 men. They occupied some recently captured

German trenches astride the Montuban-Carnoy Road, relieving the 10th Royal

Welch Fusiliers. The trenches had been badly damaged by British guns prior to

their capture, and were littered with the bodies and body parts of many dead

German soldiers, together with many dead horses. 

Soon

afterwards, the Battalion was involved in an assault on Delville Wood and

Longueval. Over the next eighteen days, the Battalion lost over 500 officers

and men. 

In 2010 a

memorial to the Footballers Battalion was erected in this area (above). Four

months later, the Battalion suffered another 300 casualties at Redan Ridge and

462 more at Oppy Wood, near Vimy Ridge, the following spring. Maurice was

wounded twice during the war but survived and rejoined Southend United before

joining Second Division Wolverhampton Wanders in April 1920 for a fee of

£700. 

He was

badly troubled by sciatica, but he was fit to play for Wolves in the 1921 FA

Cup Final at Stamford Bridge against a Tottenham Hotspur side which contained

his former Fosse team mate Tommy Clay as well as Jimmy Seed, the brother of

Leicester Fosse’s Angus Seed, another member of the Footballers’ Battalion . 

Tottenham

Hotspur won the Final 1-0, their goal coming after the ball bounced off Maurice’s

thigh into the path of the Spurs winger Dimmock whose 25 yard shot skimmed off

the very muddy surface before sailing over the Wolves goalkeeper into the

net. 

His

sciatica and a knee injury kept Maurice out for most of the following season.

He was transferred to Bristol Rovers but was never able to play for them. 

Whilst

playing for Wolves, Maurice lived in Nuneaton and played as a batsman for

Chilvers Coton Cricket Club alongside ‘Billy’ Barratt the Leicester City

full-back. In later life, Maurice kept the Old Bush Inn at Wall Heath near

Wolverhampton and Royal Oak at Chapel ash .He died on February 17th 1950 at

West Bromwich General Hospital. 

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PRIVACY POLICY

1 Introduction
Marston’s PLC (“Company”) takes your privacy seriously. This privacy policy describes how and why we obtain, store and process data which can identify you. We may update this policy from time to time and shall indicate on the web site when changes have been made.

2 The Information we collect
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