Olympic ace - "By gum, I saw some sights at the Somme"

Ted Hanney was a pro – at both footballing and soldiering. He joined the army as drummer boy aged 14 and helped the GB football team to an Olympic gold medal in 1912. Sergeant Hanney was badly wounded at the Somme and wrote: “By gum, I saw some sights there! I shall never forget them.” He went on to be a successful football coach in Germany.

Hanney followed his father into the army, enlisting with the Royal Berkshire Regiment and served for eight years until he was 22 before deciding to pursue his other calling - football.

A year later he was part of the British team that won gold at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics.

Hit in face, shoulder and leg

Edward Terrance Hanney, born in 1889, grew up in barracks at Reading and at 11 went to an army school - the Duke Of York’s Royal Military Asylum in Chelsea.

A tall centre-half, he turned out for Wokingham Town and Reading before being picked for the Olympics side, playing in the 7­-0 thrashing of Hungary before an injury ruled him out of the rest of the tournament. Hanney signed as a professional for Reading but in 1913 was snapped up by Manchester City for £1,250, playing 68 times in the First Division and scoring 10 goals.

When the war came he joined up with the 1st Football Battalion, the 17th Middlesex, and by summer 1916 he was in France.

Hanney, by then a sergeant, took part in the attacks at Delville Wood on the Somme. At around 10.30pm on July 28 he was hit and wounded in the face, shoulder and thigh. He lay in a trench all night.

“The Germans counter-­attacked that night three times,” he wrote later. “And as I felt quite all right I stopped and gave them a few extra rounds of ammunition. By gum, I saw some sights there! I shall never forget them.”

Won league title in Germany

Hanney struggled to recover from his injuries and spent the rest of the war in a reserve battalion in Chatham, Kent. He was discharged from the army in March 1919 and played his final game for City seven months later. But he gradually improved physically and continued playing, spending two seasons at Coventry City before 42 games as captain of Reading in his final season.

He coached in Germany between 1924 and 1928, winning a first league title with VfB Stuttgart and reaching a cup semifinal with FC Wacker München.

Before the start of the Second World War he came home, becoming the publican of the Russell Arms in Reading and continuing to help out with coaching at his home town club.

Hanney died in 1964: He was one of the lucky ones. Nine players associated with Reading were killed in the war, including ace striker Pte Allen Foster, who fought with Hanney on the Somme. Their names are on a memorial at the Madejski Stadium.

Remembering the Somme

This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. The Royal British Legion is calling on communities across the UK to take the time out from their daily lives to honour those who fell. We have created a Somme 100 toolkit which contains everything you need to organise a Remembrance event in your community.

Make your own commemoration to one of the casualties of the First World War by simply placing a virtual poppy in their memory on our Every Man Remembered website.

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