Give a Soldier a Football…History of the British Army and Sport

Sport, especially football, seems to have played a major role in a soldiers life, they took it seriously…and I mean VERY seriously!


A snippet here taken from The Navy & Army Illustrated of 1899 gives us a taste of a few British army history facts concerning soldiers and sport.

It describes the team of the famous 1st Black Watch.

A regiment that years earlier (1869) had arrived  via troop carrier Orontes into Weymouth harbour, to take up residence at the Nothe Fort. No doubt, while stationed there they challenged a team or two of the local boys.

‘…Our first picture illustrates the crack company football team of the historic Black Watch, while seated on the right of the group-to the left as you look at the picture-is a noted athlete of the same company. This latter is Lance-Corporal Checkey, who holds-and has held since 1896-the Indian Championship for the one mile and the 1,000 yds. Corporal Checkey is a true sportsman, and authorises us on his behalf to state that he is willing to meet any runner in India in a match over either of the distances for which he holds the championship.

LG Crack company 1st Black Watch football team and tug of war army and navy 1899 2

It will be noted that the men of the football team wear on their jerseys the emblem C.42. sticking to the old number of which their regiment is so proud. And no wonder, for is it not the old 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of Foot that is the oldest and most historic Highland corps in the British Army?

Soon after its inception the dark colours of its tartan acquired for the regiment the name of “The Black Watch” in contradistinction to the “Seidar Dearag” or”red soldiers.”

Its 2nd Battalion is the old 73rd Black Watch too, for it was raised as a 2nd Battalion of the 42nd, and at the territorial reorganisation fitly reverted to its original position.’


Enjoy discovering what life was really like for the Victorian soldier and his family and those civilians who lived in the vicinity of their barracks?

It certainly was a mixed blessing!

Nothe fort and Beyond 261 KB

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