WW1 Drama Recounts Hearts Sacrifice

27 November 2014, 05:59 | Updated: 27 November 2014, 06:43

The true story of how World War One ripped the heart out of one of Scotland's greatest football teams has inspired a new online BBC drama.

Footballers United used a mixture of archive footage and drama to tell how the war affected two young Heart of Midlothian players and the women they left behind when they went to fight.

The Edinburgh club sent 16 players to the ranks after war broke out and seven first-team players were killed in action, while others were so badly wounded or gassed they never played again.

Many of the Hearts players signed up to the 16th Royal Scots which also included professionals from teams including their city rivals, Hibernian, and Raith Rovers.

The hour-long story is told over five chapters online at www.footballersunited.co.uk with Gemma Fay, the captain of the Scottish women's team, presenting the archive footage which includes letters from the footballers at the front, old newspaper reports and film of women's football matches.

She said: "This global war had a huge and devastating effect on men, women and a whole generation. What I find really interesting is the culture change that happened in everyday life, with women gaining a new sense of freedom and new responsibilities; from starting to work in factories to things that for us today feels obvious, like being allowed to play football.

"I can't imagine what it was like when the war ended and society was meant to somehow revert 'back to normal'. I think Footballers United tells the story of this very important change of a young generation then, in a way that a young generation can relate to, now.''

Sinead Rocks, head of BBC Learning - which commissioned and produced the show, said it was part of "new and innovative ways'' to tell stories.

She said: "This interactive drama blends high quality video with archived content in a way we've never done before; which not only gives the story depth but brings an important topic like WW1 to a new and contemporary audience.''