Football, Russian Style

Contemporary drawings and paintings from the collections provide us with an interesting first-hand commentary on the First World War.

Football “Russian Style”. Pen and ink cartoon.

Football “Russian Style”. Pen and ink cartoon.

Alfred Leete (1882-1933) drew this pen and ink cartoon showing a violent game of ‘Russian Style’ football between 1914 and 1918.

The players are armed with daggers and pistols, and the ‘Refereeski’ with no less than six pistols and a pair of daggers. In the centre the game has deteriorated into a scrum with all the players stabbing and shooting one another. The work is a humorous piece of wartime commentary, showing the Russians as violent and chaotic.

Leete studied at the Kingsholme School, in Weston-super-Mare, before moving to London in 1899 to work as an artist. He always regarded Weston-super-Mare as his home town.

At the time of the First World War Leete was producing drawings for various London papers including Punch, Tatler, Sketch, Bystander and the London Opinion. His best-known work is the recruiting poster showing Lord Kitchener with the motto ‘Your Country Needs You’ created in 1914.

'Your Country Needs You' poster.

‘Your Country Needs You’ poster.

Later, Leete joined the Artists’ Rifles and served on the Western Front in France where he produced realistic illustrations of his experiences.

These two drawings are part of a significant group of works by Alfred Leete from the North Somerset Council collection which is stored and cared for at the Somerset Heritage Centre and displayed at the Weston-super-Mare Museum.

‘The Trophy’. Wash cartoon showing British soldiers with German helmet.

‘The Trophy’. Wash cartoon showing British soldiers with German helmet.

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