It’s a familiar tale to hear of football clubs such as Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea spending their summers jetting off to Asia on money-spinning foreign tours. However, in the long and distant past many non-league sides used to travel abroad to play a game or two and our very own Binfield FC did exactly that in April 1939 writes Steve Gabb.
The Moles travelled to Belgium and northern France to play two fixtures and do a bit of sight-seeing just six months before the outbreak of the Second World War – France and Britain would declare war on Germany in September 1939.
So on Wednesday 5th April, the Binfield football team, along with guests had an ‘Eve of tour dance’ at Binfield Memorial Hall before their trip into continental Europe.
The first game of the two game tour came on the Saturday against Belgian club VG Ostende Reserves. Binfield came away from the game with a creditable 1-1 draw. Ostende are one of the better teams in the country and now play in the top flight in Belgium (albeit after a merger with their city rivals to form KV Ostende).
On to France
After the Belgian game the 28 members of the Binfield touring party (including supporters and officials as well as players) made their way into northern France to a district of Lille named Haubourdin.
The locals had decked out the ground in red, white & blue livery, with the teams given a bouquet of flowers on kick-off.
This was a big event! Binfield won this clash 3-2 and the Reading Mercury quotes the goalscorers as Gale, Bowyer and Eamer.
The team were presented with a cup and the players with medals. After the game the team were received at the town hall by the mayor of Haubourdin and the bouquet of flowers was laid at the war memorial – where many Brits lost their lives as part of the Great War which was only twenty years previously.
A letter to Binfield
Following the tour and the outbreak of war, Binfield received ‘an interesting letter’ describing how the outbreak of war had seen the majority of Stade Harbourdinios (referring to the players we think) called up to fight.
The letter continues with the Harbourdin Mayor and Town Council offering to do all they can to make ‘mobilised’ Binfield club members as comfortable in France as they can under the circumstances.
The heartfelt paragraph reads: ‘If any of your club members are mobilised and eventually coming to France, we would like you all to know that the Mayor and Town Council of Harbourdin wish to be informed, and that they will do all in their power to make your stay in France under the circumstances as comfortable as they can, to the best of their ability, and would think it an honour.
Here’s the full letter originally printed in the Reading Mercury:
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