The story of the Shelbourne player and the Hitler Nazis

Analysis: Frank Brooe’s Shelbourne days marked the end of a career that played against Germany on the eve of World War II.

Fashions were few and far between in Ireland in the 1950s, but football was an exception. It has been the fashion for a while for international class players to show their talents to any Irish club that can afford to pay the most shortly after their best time.

Shelbourne FC Somehow you always found the money to appoint these former household names to spice up gloomy Saturday afternoons. Competitors plagued Shels by calling the club “The Nations of Nations”. Then there was very little entertainment at that time. Some of these imported players were extremely skilled and others just had to tell a story. Frank Broome was one of them, and its story would resonate over the years.

Broome began his career at Aston Villa, playing for England seven times. He is considered a “great shooter, fast and extremely dangerous in the penalty area”. He played for Shels from February to April 1955 and made £ 5 a week, although a newspaper reported that it cost the Ringsend Reds an additional £ 10 a week to fly him from Birmingham to Dublin and back home. . It might not sound like a lot compared to Mesut Ozil £ 350,000 a week at Arsenal, but Broome can at least guarantee his place on the team sheet.

The program for Germany against England in Berlin 1938

While Broome got along well with the Shels fans because of his talent, the fact that he was one of the English players who infamously presented the Nazi salute was a fact. game 1938 in Berlin. This incident during Broome’s debut with the team caused the English Federation to look for excuses and fear the newspapers would later notice in what is known as England’s sporting shame.

The game, which was played in front of 115,000 spectators in the Berlin Olympic Stadium, aroused great expectations in Hitler’s Germany. The home team trained in the Black Forest for two weeks to prepare for the game and 400,000 Germans applied for tickets. Hitler would have participated had it not been for a previous alliance with Mussolini. Instead, the Führer sends his lower bench from Rudolf Hess, Hermann Göring, Joseph Goebbels and Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop.

England won the game 6-3 (and Broome scored one of the goals), but what happened before caused an international outcry that would last for decades. While the English players were in the locker room, an FA official asked them to greet the raised arm during the German national anthem. “The locker room burst,” Broome said at the time, “there was Bedlamm. The English players were alive and totally against it. ‘However, the FA official returned to report that he had received a direct order from the British Ambassador in Berlin, Neville Henderson, to say that the political situation was now so sensitive that it just needed a spark in Europe light ‘. The players obeyed.

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From the British Movietone, the English soccer team greets the Nazis during the German national anthem during a 1938 game in Berlin.

At the top of the stands were Broome’s Aston Villa teammates when the Birmingham team was invited to take part in the international “friendly” games in Berlin, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart. The Villa players reportedly greeted the Nazis ahead of the exhibition games, but it was the use of a newly introduced football tactic that angered German fans. The offside trap was full of mockery, whistles and screams from fans, and this hostility resulted in players from Villa being led off the field by SS guards and storm troops.

Just 15 months later, the “spark” Henderson spoke of was actually lit and a bigger game was taking place in Europe when Hitler invaded Poland and plunged the world into chaos for the second time. The war resulted in the postponement of league football in England, but Broome continued to play at the time because he believed football helped bring some measure of normalcy to the beleaguered citizens.

He was almost 40 when he wanted to play for Shels in Dublin, which meant driving 150 miles every weekend. However, he made a name for himself during his time in Dublin, while the Irish Times speculated that he might be the “leading genius the Shels young team needs”.

We’d never find out how far-fetched it could have been, because Shels would once again face a relentless opponent he could never shake: a faltering record. In mid-1955, Broome and the club’s then manager saw the recent credit crunch David Jack (the first man to score at Wembley) was released so they could find their own way back to England.


The views expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the views of RTÉ


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