Alexander “Sandy” Mc. Allister

Tra i tanti caduti del Giavera British Cemetery non mancano gli sportivi. E’ il caso di  Alexander “Sandy” McAllister,  che prima della guerra militò nella squadra di calcio di Sunderland.
Era un beniamino dei tifosi locali, tanto che si racconta che quando segnò il suo primo goal con la squadra gli furono regalati un pianoforte e un orologio d’oro.
Ora il Museo Emotivo, con l’aiuto del giornale locale, il Sunderland Echo, sta cercando di scoprire l’identità dei due giovani ritratti con lui in una foto trovata nel cimitero Britannico di Giavera (Sandy è il primo a sinistra)
Sono forse altri giocatori del Sunderland, magari come lui morti in guerra e ricordati nel monumento eretto nei pressi dello stadio?

Per questo il giornale ha pubblicato un articolo nel quale si racconta come questa foto sia stata rinvenuta dal custode del  cimitero britannico di Giavera sulla tomba di Alexander Mc Allister.        Il giornale lancia un appello tra i suoi lettori per cercare di individuare chi siano i due giovani ritratti accanto a lui nella foto (Sandy è il primo da sinistra). Sono altri giocatori della squadra, o forse i figli dello stesso Mc Allister, nato nel 1878 a Kilmarnock.

Il giornalista del’Echo ripercorre inoltre la carriera calcistica del giocatore, dal suo esordio con il Sunderland nel 1897, al passaggio al Derby County nel 1904 fino al ritiro nel 1911.

L’ultima parte dell’articolo è dedicata alla esperienza di guerra, nel fronte occidentale, dove fu ferito nel corso della battaglia della Somme nel 1916 e ancora in Francia e infine in Italia dove morì nel febbraio 1918.

Sunderland Echo, Friday 06 February 2015

THE discovery of a Sunderland footballer’s picture in an Italian graveyard has sparked an international appeal for information.
A snapshot featuring World War One hero Alexander ‘Sandy’ McAllister and two mystery men was left on his grave at Giavera British Cemetery in Treviso Province. Now Pierluigi Sanzovo, of Museo Emotivo of the Great War in Veneto, is hoping Echo readers will be able to put names to faces and help solve the picture puzzle. “Sandy was buried at Giavera in 1918. The photo was put on his grave many years ago and was found by the caretaker. We have absolutely no idea who left it,” he said. “Whoever left it simply wrote McAllister on the back. I have had the photo for many years, but have discovered only recently that it is of the footballer Sandy McAllister. “It is a mystery who the other two young men are in the photograph. Could they be his brothers, or other Sunderland players? Perhaps they were soldiers just like him.” Sandy, the son of a Scottish pitman, was born in Kilmarnock in around 1878 and, despite showing a flare for sport, followed in his father’s footsteps to become a miner. In his spare time, however, he played for Kilmarnock and, on February 20, 1897, the “sturdy” teenager made his debut for Sunderland against Stoke City in a 4-1 win. “He won his spurs in the 1897 Test Matches, which he has worn ever since with great success,” one sports pundit wrote of the ‘heavily built and strong’ player in 1902. Indeed, Sandy – a short, stocky centre-half – went on to play in the first game at Roker Park and was an indispensable part of the 1902 Championship-winning side as well. His seven-year career with the Rokermen saw him make 215 appearances – receiving a gold watch and a piano from fans after scoring the first of five goals for the club. But he finally left Sunderland for Derby County in 1904, followed by Oldham in 1905 and Spennymoor Utd in 1909. By 1911, he was back in Sunderland – as a miner. His days as a SAFC player saw Sandy living at 4 William Street, but by 1911 he had moved to 73 Broadsheath Terrace, Southwick, with wife Isabel and their five children. Just three years later, when Britain declared war on Germany, the 36-year-old enlisted in the Northumberland Fusiliers and was wounded at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He returned, however, to front-line fighting, serving in France and Italy. Tragically, Sandy died of food poisoning in February 1918 and was buried at Giavera Cemetery.