First World Cup Centenary Sculpture, West Auckland Green

The West Auckland Monument: Footballer and Miner

The sculpture shows a football player in the West Auckland FC 1909 strip in the act of capturing the ball and scoring a goal. Below the footballer is a miner with a pickaxe in the process of cutting the coalface. As in life so in the sculpture: football above, mining below.

A connection struck me as I was researching images of football and miners: a miner working on his side in a low seam looked very similar to a goalkeeper diving for the ball.

In my research I found photographs of miners wearing shorts, shirt, socks, boots and with a cap that resembled the strip of a goalkeeper. The miner figure in the sculpture thus is ambiguously both miner and football player; if the pickaxe is removed he could easily be a goalkeeper.

The lifted leg of the footballer can be seen from a number of angles which marks the actual height of the low roof and cramped conditions of the coal seam that the miner would have worked below with his pickaxe.

One can also imagine that the footballer above the goalkeeper/miner figure represents the miner’s daydreams about playing football at the weekend, oblivious of the low roof of the seam. Equally the footballer above is motivated to score a goal thinking of his mates below in the mine.