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Blind Football

In the 1920s, football was very popular among blind veterans. We even played against Arsenal!

Football was very popular among Blind Veterans when we were based in Regents' Park

During First World War, social and sporting activities were hugely important to blind veterans while undergoing rehabilitation at St Dunstans Lodge in Regent's Park. They enjoyed dancing, rowing on the lake and even football! They played the game similarly to a penalty shoot out, with a sighted goalkeeper clapping his hands to indicate his position.

We had early support from Arsenal football club; they played a charity match against Aston Villa to raise money for veterans blinded in the First World War. In November 1920, Arsenal goalkeeper Ernest Williamson came to play with our blind footballers. By this time we had instituted a regular knockout football competition, the Sir Arthur Pearson Challenge Cup (named after our founder and modelled on the FA Cup!) This was the beginning of a close friendship between Williamson and Blind Veterans UK. He was a serviceman himself, in the Royal Army Service Corps.

The entire Arsenal team also came to play some of the blind veteran footballers, once on 14th December 1920 and once on 22nd February 1921. (The Arsenal players were blindfolded!)

As well as playing football with the blind veterans at St Dunstans Lodge, Williamson also assisted our Chairman at the time Ian Fraser in presenting trophies for winners of the Sir Arthur Pearson Challenge Cup.

63. Football Mud Splattered Williamson With Ian Fraser Centre And Trophies 05