Launch of a new Luton newspaper

November 21st, 1914: The Beds and Herts Saturday Telegraph, a sister paper of The Luton News, was launched with the day's sport as one of its major selling points, especially Luton Town's progress in the Southern League. And the Town gave the debut paper a stunning first result with a 15-0 Cup win at home over Great Yarmouth.

But by week two one of the big stories concerned a growing call for legislation to ban professional football for the duration of the war. The Telegraph was not amused, blaming "the men who sit at home in armchairs, hug their money, and write indignant letters to the papers" for a campaign that seemed to be gaining support.

"It is nothing to them that where professional football flourishes, junior clubs most abound, and that these junior clubs have probably furnished more recruits than any other section of the community. Any number of junior clubs have been unable to carry on this season because so many of their men have enlisted.

"If professional football is to be stopped, are the theatres, music halls and other forms of entertainment to be continued? Apparently, the idea is that anything which conduces to physical fitness should be vetoed, whilst the enervating influences should be allowed to remain in full swing."

The Telegraph described the campaign against professional football as "something approaching a crisis". Parliamentary attention had been drawn to the agitation, and the Football Associations of the four home countries were to meet to consider the whole question of football and the war.

Of the references in Parliament the most serious occurred on Thursday, said the Telegraph on November 28th. Sir John Lonsdale asked the Prime Minister if he was aware that recruiting meetings held in competition with assemblies of men to watch football matches had produced disappointing results. He urged legislation to "stop this scandal" and suppress all professional football matches during the continuation of the war.

Prime Minister Herbert Asquith replied that he would rather trust to the progress of the communications that were being made, and to the general good sense of all football players.

Previously there had been calls for the Government to charge double rates for those travelling by train to professional football matches with half of the money going to the War Fund, although it was pointed out that that would have to apply to all sports. And there was also a suggestion that a tax should be put on everyone attending football matches who was not in uniform.

The Telegraph quoted from The Sporting Life which pointed out that Association football had contributed more players to the Forces and raised more money for war relief funds than all other sports combined. Over 100,000 regular players of Association football had enlisted.