Arcade gem helps to kick off footie fiesta

The World's Delight Football Game, in situ at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the early 1900s
The World's Delight Football Game, in situ at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the early 1900s
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It maybe a world away from today’s hi-tech video games, but this throwback to football’s past is set to be a star attraction again.

A decades old game – popular at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the early 1900s –has found a new lease of life as part of a new National Football 
Museum exhibition.

‘The Greater Game – Football and The First World War’ opened at the Manchester-based museum yesterday, complete with a rebuffed ‘The World’s Delight Football Game’.

It will feature alongside stories of football’s role both at home and on the front during World War One, excerpts from soldiers’ and footballers’ own experiences of the war, and displays on the truth of the Christmas day truce football matches.

The World’s Delight Football Game has been restored to its former glory, having been housed at the theme park before the First World War. It features leading players from the time, including Tommy Boyle, who stormed to 
victory with Burnley in the 1914 FA Cup Final, just months before the outbreak of the war.

The Blackpool fairground game called on players to kick a ball at its famed footballers or through one of its holes to score a point.

Some of its players went on to lose their lives in the war.

England star Steve Bloomer became a prisoner of war in Berlin, and Boyle was injured while serving in the Royal Field Artillery.

The Manchester exhibition celebrates the centenary year of the First World War through the roles footballers and ‘the beautiful game’ played in the conflict both at home and on the battlefield.

It includes a diary kept by Lt C.B. Brockbank of the Sixth Bn Cheshire Regiment, detailing the famous Christmas Day football game of 1914.

Kevin Moore, National Football Museum director, said: “Even in some of the world’s darkest times, the love of football and the spirit of the game continues.

“This is captured beautifully in The Greater Game with never before seen film footage and first-hand accounts.

“For the first time we are able to reveal the truth behind some of these stories. The historical artefacts on display are unrivalled and we hope that everyone will come to learn more about this fascinating period of footballing history.”

Other objects on display include Wilfred Bartrop’s FA Cup Winner’s Medal awarded to him in 1912 following his part in the success of ‘Battling Barnsley’ who reached the cup final in 1910 and won it in 1912.

Bartrop was the final footballer to lose his life in the conflict, as he provided trench mortar support on November 7, 1918 – just four days before the end of the war.

The free exhibition opened yesterday at the National Football Museum, Manchester.