DCSIMG

A unique strip with a simple, poignant message ...

Raith players in McCrae's Battalion - 
Standing: James Todd (killed), James W.M. Gourlay. 
Sitting: George McLay (killed), William Lavery, James Scott (killed), and 
James H. Logan

Raith players in McCrae's Battalion - Standing: James Todd (killed), James W.M. Gourlay. Sitting: George McLay (killed), William Lavery, James Scott (killed), and James H. Logan

Raith Rovers will pay tribute to the footballers who served in World War One with a commemorative strip next season.

The Hunting Stewart tartan top will have no sponsor on the front - instead it will simply carry the statement ‘‘remember.’’

It will be formally unveiled by Gordon Brown MP at Stark’s Park on Saturday.

He will be joined by representatives from the McCrae Battalion Trust.

The new strip is a break from the club’s traditional colours, and it follows just days after Hearts - one of the leading clubs in the formation of the battalion - unveiled their jersey to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of war.

Launching the new kit, Turnbull Hutton, chairman, said: “We wanted to do something completely different in terms of kit colours but, at the same time, the board has been considering a suitable way to mark this centenary in an appropriate manner.

‘‘We have brought these two ambitions together with our new green and black strip.

‘‘We hope that it captures the imagination of the Scottish footballing public and, through next season’s sports pages, that it ensures that we really do ‘remember’ the sacrifices of our players and so many others 100 years ago.“

Replicas of the strip are expected to be on sale soon after the formal launch.

The story of the Sportsman’s Battalion is well known in football circles and is often associated with Hearts.

But Raith Rovers played a significant role in the regiment which fought in the Great War - and several players made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The McCrae Battalion was formed by Sir George McCrae, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, who set about amassing 1000 men in a week.

Thirteen Hearts players signed up followed just days later by seven from Raith Rovers - in total some 17 members of the team served their country - and six from Falkirk.

The Rovers players were James H. Logan, club captain; George McLay, Willie Porter, Willie Lavery, Jimmy Todd, Jimmy Scott and Jock Rattray.

Three were to give their lives in the line of duty.

Jimmy Todd died of gun wounds on March 12, 1916 shortly after being hit in the chest by a large fragment of shell. He was the first of the professional footballers to be killed.

His grave is in the town of Erquinghem, near to Amentieres.

Jimmy Scott was killed on July 1, 1916 - the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

He has no known grave, but it is believed his remains may be in Gordon’s Dump - a cemetery close to the village of Contalmaison.

He is commemorated on the huge Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

There is also no known grave for George McLay who lost his life in October 1917, close to the village of Poelcapelle when taking part in the push for Passchendale.

He was shot several times when caught up in the German wire entanglement. he was posthumously awarded the Military Medal.

The remaining Raith players survived the horrors of war.

James Logan went on to manage one of the greatest teams in the club’s history in the early 1920s.

The players who died are honoured by a memorial cairn in Contalmaison.

> The strips will be on sale at ACA Sports, High Street, Kirkcaldy from Saturday.

> Source: Marshall Bowman - Raith Rovers’ Hall of Fame souvenir programme, November 2013

 

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