1. ITV Report

Footballers' Battalion from World War One

The Footballers’ Battalions memorial at Delville Wood in France. Photo: ITV Central

The Notts county Youth Team have travelled to France to follow in the footsteps of the Footballers’ Battalion from World War One.

Leading the group is former County star Phil Stant whose route into professional football was far from conventional.

Despite his ability on the pitch he didn’t think he was good enough to be a professional footballer so decided to join the army instead.

He said: "There was a lot of sport in the army, a lot of football which I was really pleased about. I managed to play for the army in combined services as well as doing my job"

Phil fought in the Falklands war in 1982 but was bought out of the army by Hereford United for 600 pound in 1986 at the age of 24. He went on to score 198 league goals for clubs including Notts County, Mansfield and Lincoln.

He said: "It's very unusual for a player to be signing professional contracts at the age of 24 like I did having seen the other side of life… I always appreciated how lucky I was to be a professional footballer."

Since retiring he works for the football league youth development programme in the Midlands where he helped push through the memorial to the Footballers' Battalions.

Former Notts County star Phil Stant explains how he helped raise a memorial to the Footballers' Battalion.

"We found out there was no memorial on the Somme or anywhere for these guys so we put it to the people at the Football League who thought it was a good idea and the ball started rolling"

– Former Notts County star Phil Stant

Phil said: "The memorial is there now because the clubs throughout the football league conducted bucket collections with their apprentices and we raised the money to have the memorial erected 18 months ago. That memorial isn't just for the Football League it's for the clubs fans, staff and supporters."

On this trip Phil's been the guide, imparting his knowledge of the Great War to the next generation of young footballers.

Notts County Youth Team midfielder Kyle Dixon said: "Normally when people talk for a long period of time I usually daze off a little bit but when he's talking you can really feel everything he's saying is true and you can feel all the emotion."

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