The Mysteries of ‘Forever England’

Blog- Forever England print final 3

Shane Record’s ‘Forever England’ was unveiled inside the West Stand of Twickenham Stadium in 2014 to commemorate a century since the outbreak of the First World War. It depicts an England side on the cusp of winning the 1914 5-Nations Championship, collecting a second consecutive Grand Slam in the process.

Later that year the same group of men would represent their country as members of the armed forces as Britain and her allies went to War with Germany. Of the fifteen, six would not return. Record has referenced the sacrifice of these men by casting their England roses into shadow.

Further details of how the painting was created can be found here.

Since hanging inside the West Stand the painting has been observed by several thousand visitors taking part in a Twickenham Stadium tour. This has given rise to several mysteries:

Why are two of the players not wearing the rose?

Alexander Sykes (second from the left, back-row) and Francis Stone (second from right, back-row), although wearing white jerseys, are not wearing England jerseys as identified by the red rose. Stone is in fact wearing his London Counties jersey. The England France game would be these two players first and only caps for their country and they presumably wore whatever jersey were available to them. They later took to the field in the same jerseys.

What about Robert Pillman?

Interestingly the gentleman in the middle of the back-row, Robert Pillman, was also making his England debut in this fixture and, although obscured, it appears that his jersey did include a red-rose. Robert Pillman was the brother of legendary English flanker Cherry Pillman who had already earned 18 caps for England, so perhaps he borrowed his brother’s jersey? Tragically Robert was one of the six players who would not return from the conflict, losing his life at Gallipoli in 1915.

Why are the players wearing different coloured socks?

At this time England players wore their club socks whilst on international duty.  This remained the case until the sock was standardised in 1931. From this point on the England sock has been navy blue with only a few recent exceptions. As the painting is based on a black and white photograph it was a challenge for Record to identify which club socks each player would have been wearing.

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2 Responses to The Mysteries of ‘Forever England’

  1. frederic1892 says:

    Hi there !

    Interesting jersey story !

    If Mr Record wants to further develop this hommage to the 1914 teams, maybe he could also go for an additional painting (do you say “fresque” in English ?) of the opposing French team on this April 13th 1914 ?
    F v E 1914:

    If I may split hairs, there was no such thing like a “Grand Slam” in 1914…

    We exchanged some mails last year with Richard S. and John G. to confirm it was first used in 1957…

    As John G. put it “The first use of the term I’ve ever seen came in The Times preview of the 1957 England v Scotland match on March 16th. Uel Titley (thinly disguised as Our Rugby Football Correspondent) used the Bridge phrase grand slam, but reverted to writing in his Monday match report: “England [did] sweep the board….won the Calcutta Cup for the seventh consecutive year, gained the Triple Crown – purely imaginative but immensely coveted – and became the season’s international champions.”

    Michael Melford in the Daily Telegraph report of the match used the phrase in his sixth paragraph and the newspaper’s subeditor must have liked it because it appears in the match headline you’ll notice.”

    John G. also provided with a copy of the Daily Telegraph article, which can be read here:

    Saying it differently,, before the 50s, defeating the French was just routine and did not add anything to a Triple Crown…

    Liked by 1 person

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