1. ITV Report

250 football fans on a European adventure to the battlefields of the Somme

Orient fans on the Somme Photo: ITV News

It was 7.30am on a cold Friday morning when I first met up with the Leyton Orient fans heading for the Somme. As a Carlisle United fan I was a bit apprehensive about how I would be received.

It wasn't long before any fears I had were laid to rest. This was a trip that was not about club colours - but about togetherness. The football family at one paying tribute to three of its own.

The trip to France is something this club is very proud of. Around the Brisbane Road ground there are reminders of the sacrifices that were made by the players and staff who were among the first football team in England to join the war effort. This pilgrimage is a statement that, as the years go by, they will never forget.

Fans at Thiepval Memorial Credit: ITV News
War Graves on the Somme Credit: ITV News

It was a pilgrimage where the sacrifices of all those who served were remembered. But in particular it was the story of three North East footballers that took centre stage here.

Richard McFadden and William Jonas, from Blyth, and George Scott, from Sunderland, were the only members of the team not to return from the war.

On this trip and together on the Somme for the first time were members of all three families.

Fans parade a special Somme banner Credit: ITV News
George Scott's grave Credit: ITV News
remember Credit: ITV News
Piper lays a wreath at Hearts memorial Credit: ITV News

As a journalist who has covered many stories - I found this one to be very moving. I'm a football fan. I know the sense of community and togetherness that comes with it.

But being on this trip through the lens of my camera - it was humbling to see these three men remembered in this way by generations who have grown up with their stories.

Alan Comfort, Leyton Orient's club chaplain, is a former footballer who played not only for the O's but also for Middlesbrough among others. He told me that this trip is special. That there are few clubs that would do this. And that Leyton Orient is a special club. I couldn't argue with that.

Richard McFadden's grave Credit: ITV News

For the families of the three North East brothers in arms it was an emotional trip. It was great to be there to see it. To see them standing in front of the graves of their relatives for the first time.

What struck me about this trip was that in a world where football is dominated by multi-million pound transfers, over-inflated wages and season tickets costing silly money - this was the real spirit of the game and its fans stripped back to the bones.

250 fans dressed in club colours - all gathered to remember. It was a special trip, it's a special club - and they're now officially my second team!

Watch the full report on the pilgrimage to France here:

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