Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Monday, October 26, 1998 Published at 14:07 GMT


Red is the colour, football is the game

From left: Des Lynam, Tony Blair and Arsene Wenger go for a kickabout

The 1998 Poppy Appeal has been launched with an impromptu kickabout between Tony Blair and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in the gardens of Downing Street.

Mr Wenger presented the prime minister with a special Poppy Appeal football on behalf of the Premiership and league clubs who are working with the Royal British Legion to promote this year's campaign.

The legion's Charles Lewis, who organised the high-profile launch, said that Mr Blair told Frenchman Mr Wenger that it was nice to see an all-British side - Aston Villa - at the top of the English Premiership.

"There was quite an animated discussion between them about the fact that the team at the top of the Premiership contains no overseas players," he said.

[ image: Tony Blair: On the ball]
Tony Blair: On the ball
"Both Mr Blair and Arsene Wenger agreed it was good for English football."

Arsenal won both the FA Cup and the Premiership last season by fielding a side full of overseas players.

A fundraising message recorded by the BBC's Match of the Day presenter Des Lynam, who was present at the launch, was played before 46 games across England and Wales at the weekend.

Players and fans also observed a minute's silence in memory of war victims before kick-off at all professional matches.

Mr Lewis said that the Poppy Appeal's relationship with football opened up the Royal British Legion's work to a new generation.

"Football players like Michael Owen, David Beckham and Alan Shearer are loved by both young boys and young girls.

"And if it brings attention to the work of the Royal British Legion then that is what we are after."

Mr Lewis added: "We were delighted to leave the specially decorated poppy football for Mr Blair and his boys."

The 1997 appeal, fronted by Dame Vera Lynn and the Spice Girls, raised £17.3m for ex-servicemen and women, and their families.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

24 Oct 98 | Football
Football remembers the fallen

11 Nov 97 | UK
Two-minute silence widely observed

29 Oct 97 | UK
Spice Girls launch poppy appeal

Internet Links

The Royal British Legion - Poppy Appeal

10 Downing Street


BBC Online

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online