Monday, 19 May 2014

The Great War, football and Birmingham

On Christmas day 1914, German soldiers of the 134th Saxon Regiment met with men of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in no man’s land, for a game of football.

A  momumental event in football history - where two armies put down their guns to pop over for a quick game.  But the story of football during the war runs far deeper than this brief moment of humanity.

The Football Association chose not to cancel matches through 1914 and 1915, as had Cricket and other sports, and while clearly popular with the men of German and British Forces, it was also popular with the Munition workers - the lady 'Munitionettes', particularly in the North of England. I've had a quick dig around, and could only find this cutting for a game in Birmingham (St. Andrews) between two of the more well known teams from St. Helens and Stoke.

Football was already seen a means of keeping fit and raising morale.  While Lady's football was a little frowned upon (note demise of the English Ladies' Football Association after Great War)  football as a whole was encouraged.

Troops had time to spend playing football on the front - Presumably football was also played in and around the hospitals of Birmingham?

The 1st Southern General Hospital in Birmingham, based mainly in Selly Oak, was one of the many hospitals and convalescence care services based in and around Birmimgham - during the war over 130,000 military casualties were treated in Birmingham Hospitals.  A brutal reminder of those who did not recover remains in Lodge Hill Cemetery.

As a playday coordinator, I'm also interested in football on the streets too, played mainly by children in Birmingham.  What record is there of these games?  This year playday falls on 6th August - two days after the centenary commemorations for the beginning of the first world war - at Swan Corner we will be inviting inclusive teams of mixed gender, age, ability, to take part in what will be the start of Playing out street closures across Birmingham.

Please send me any information or links about football, Birmingham and the Great War - or contact me if you can join us for a quick game on National Playday.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Archiving the Arts

As part of Archiving the Arts networking afternoon today at Library of Birmingham I presented on 'Digital Archives: The Hall Green Arts Story'

It was a 14 minute presentation demonstrating digital archiving in action - please see below:

Great to be asked to present on digital archives, to see the other great presentations, and to meet so many archiving arts types, from London and the West Midlands.

To find out more see National Archives, Archiving the Arts

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Election fervor

Two weeks ago (last blog) I wasn't so sure who my MEPs were, so I found them and wrote to all 7 of them.  Well here are the responses I got, all 2 of them (also copy of the letter I wrote):

Dear [name],

As elections approach I have become aware how little I know about my MEPs.

I recently noticed you've represented me in Europe for [however many] years.  I know you have been working hard on my behalf.  I am interested to know what you think your biggest achievements have been in your time as an MEP, and any personal thoughts on your priorities during this time and the future.  I would like to share your response to other West Midland citizens via a blog.
Thanks, and looking forward to your response.
Yours Faithfully,
Marcus Belben

Dear mr. Belsen,
Thank you for your email. Rather than write a lengthy email can I refer you to our local website which gives details of West Midlands conservative MEPs activities  over recent times. The address is and gives details of our work both in the region and in Parliament.
Your sincerely,
Philip bradbourn MEP

Dear Marcus.Happy Easter.My proudest moment as an MEP so far would be bringing the Prime Minister to the dispatch box by a public petition, the first time ever in history. If you would be so kind to forward me your address I would like to forward you some info in the post?Best WishesNikki
Office of Nikki Sinclaire MEP
Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands
nikkimep@googlemail (Press)
Nikki Sinclaire 0121 359 5933Twitter: @NSinclaireMEP

1st Floor, 123 New John Street, Birmingham, B6 4LD

No other responses, sadly, and I can't help understanding why people might agree with (of all people) Boris Johnson when he says MEPs are on a gigantic boondoggle .

The truth is, though that these elected representatives will face some very big decisions which will effect all of us, both in terms of the grander Eurozone and currency plans, to issues of particular local concern, like the safety of trucks on our roads - and, mostly bizarrely, the latest polls put UKIP with a huge 9% lead over other parties (with 36%!)

UKIP is the largest party of the EFD (European of Freedom and Democracy) grouping of parties in Europe (who incidently are the only MEP group voting against improvements to truck safety).  The grouping includes Lega Nord and other colourful right wing factions who do not want to be a part of Europe, although most of which (particularly UKIP) take an active role in the various committees and other decision-making bodies.

Please come to hustings (10th May, 11:00 to 2:00 at All Saints, High Street Kings Heath) for your European representatives, and don't forget local hustings.  Ours is: 

Local election hustings event 13 May 2014

The 2014 local elections will be held on Thursday 22 May. The hustings event, where you can meet the candidates, will take place at 7:30pm on Tuesday 13 May at the All Services Club, Church Road, Moseley.

Useful links