Bairns players who fought in ‘a war of two halves’

Pictured (left to right) are standard bearers Tom Logan and William Hoy, from the Royal Scots (Royal Regiment) Association at McCrae's Place in Edinburgh - named after the sports battalion in which several Bairns players were to serve.
Pictured (left to right) are standard bearers Tom Logan and William Hoy, from the Royal Scots (Royal Regiment) Association at McCrae's Place in Edinburgh - named after the sports battalion in which several Bairns players were to serve.

August 1914 was an idyllic summer, but storm clouds were gathering on the continent as a complex political row gathered pace.

When Britain went to war a host of patriotic Pals battalions were formed from men who came from the same town, or who worked in the same kind of job - and that included sportsmen.

The story of William McCrae’s volunteer battalion of the Royal Scots, fronted by legendary Hearts players of the day, has been capably told over the years.

But less well known is the involvement of Falkirk men (or men linked to Falkirk through its football club).

Hundreds of supporters and regular ticket holders flocked to join the battalion whose ranks included their top sporting heroes.

A number of players from the clubs represented were born in England, but chose to stay in Scotland and enlist in the same battalion as their team-mates.

Most expected a short, glorious war. Like so many men across Europe their main fear was often that it would all be over before they had a chance to shine.

Instead many were killed or wounded in a hideous, long drawn-out conflict which claimed millions of lives.

On Thursday this week the harrowing but also inspiring story of what happened to these men will be told in a brand new play, A War of Two Halves, to launch at the Edinburgh Festival.

It will be staged at Tynecastle itself, with four shows shows every day until August 19 – except Saturday, August 11 when Hearts are at home to Celtic.

The company say that the production is suitable for those aged 12 and over, and emphasise that supporters of all football clubs (and none!) will be welcome.

There’s more about the show at www.awaroftwohalves.com