Everton defenders Michael Keane and Jonjoe Kenny planted 11 trees as part of a moving tribute to the Club’s 11 fallen players who lost their lives fighting for their country in the First World War.
Ahead of the Club’s Remembrance Day fixture against Brighton this weekend, and to mark the centenary of the First World War, Keane and Kenny joined a number of veterans and members of the Everton Heritage Society at Everton in the Community’s Blue Base near Goodison Park for a tree-planting ceremony to honour the fallen WWI players.
The trees were donated by the Woodland Trust, who have joined forces with the National Football Museum’s ‘For Club and Country’ project, the Premier League, the English Football League, the Professional Footballers’ Association and the Football Association for a national campaign called ‘Football Remembers’, which aims to create a living legacy to the footballers who served and died 100 years ago in the First World War.
Blues defender Keane said: “It’s incredibly important that we honour the 11 Everton players who made the ultimate sacrifice one hundred years ago, bravely and selflessly giving their lives for our freedom.
“The trees are a fitting and lasting symbol of that sacrifice and hopefully they will serve as a gentle reminder for passers-by at the Blue Base for years to come.”
Everton in the Community veterans from the Knowsley Veterans’ Hub were in attendance to help the players plant the trees in the grounds of the Blue Base, along with members of the Everton Heritage Society, who spoke about each fallen player and their careers with the Club.
During the First World War players became so much more than just heroes on the football pitch. Some of the more unlikely heroes of WWI were the footballers of the time, who bravely signed up to fight for their country. As they joined the trenches on the frontline, football and families were changed forever.
Everton in the Community’s extensive Knowsley Veterans’ Hub programme has supported approximately 500 veterans since February 2016, providing help and assistance with a range of issues such as homelessness and mental health problems.
Knowsley Veterans’ Hub openly welcomes veterans and their families to engage in the project with available provision including one-to-one information, advice and guidance sessions, informal opportunities for participants to meet and facilitate social bonding, invaluable referral links and signposting to ex-forces-specific organisations and a wide range of physical activity sessions.