In 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War, several of Britain’s most famous footballers were imprisoned at the Ruhleben internment camp, near Berlin. Marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the War, this feature for FourFourTwo tells the true story of how the prisoners – including the great Steve Bloomer – used the game of football to survive, and how two of them used it to achieve an amazing escape.
‘An epic story of the triumph of the British spirit of sportsmanship in a German prison camp!’ Not a tagline for Bank Holiday film favourite Escape to Victory, but a 100-year-old newspaper headline reporting the true-life exploits of a group of footballing prisoners of war. It was 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War, and several of Britain’s most famous footballers were imprisoned in the brutal Ruhleben internment camp, on the outskirts of Berlin. Surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards, living in squalor and on meagre rations, and with their families and freedom far out of reach, they sought salvation in the thing they knew best: football.
Published in the September 2014 issue of FourFourTwo.
Also in this issue of FourFourTwo is a feature on goal celebrations, which includes my piece on the early history of celebrations, or ‘the Handshake Years’.