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Monday, 23 January 2017

Andy Auld - From Child Soldier to World Cup Semi-Finalist (With a Split Lip)

The U.S. team that took part in the 1930 World Cup contained six players that were born in Britain. The Canadian historian Colin Jose has done much to dispel many of the misconceptions that have surrounded the team over the decades. He has written very detailed biographies of each players background and careers.

The biography of Andy Auld, written by Jose for the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame, to be found on Wayback Machine, contains the information that in 1913 Auld joined the British Army. There is a discrepancy in the two accounts written above by Colin Jose with regard to his date of birth. One states he was born 26th January 1900 and the other 1901. That would suggest that the Scot would have been twelve or thirteen years old when he enlisted in the Army. As suspect as this claim may seem it is well documented that during World War One some 250,000 boys under the age of 18 joined the war effort. This became a very controversial subject in British Military history. The rules for enlistment, in place before the war, required all applicants to be eighteen years old to sign up and nineteen to serve overseas. All these young boys, keen to join the war effort, lied about their age and it appears the authorities were very reluctant to check proof of age

This raises several questions with regard to Andy Auld. Is his approximate date of birth roughly correct or was he born a few years earlier? If he was born in 1900/01 then he would have clearly lied about his age. However, two other possibilities exist. Either the year of his enlistment is incorrect and it was a few years later or he never joined the Army at all?

I was unable to obtain information regarding birth records for Andy Auld although his gravestone gives 1900 at his birth date. However, I was able to find the 1901 Scotland Census and the information contained therein possibly contradicts the 26th January 1900 birth date stated elsewhere. It states that a four-month-old Andrew Auld lived at Chemical Row with his parents Thomas and Mary, and six older siblings (two sisters and four brothers) ranging between twenty-three and three years old. Another reason to believe that he was born in 1901 is that according to outbound passenger lists, Andy Auld of Dynamite Road, Stevenston, ticket number 51909, aged 22, occupation Miner, departed from Glasgow on 22nd June 1923 on the Canadian Pacific steamship liner Metagama bound for Quebec, Montreal.  So it appears almost certain that in 1913 he was nowhere near the age of 18 and that if he did join the Army he certainly lied about his age.

I was also unable to find enlistment records for the British Military to determine what birth date he provided but I was able to find four different Andrew Auld's that served in British Armed Forces during this period. All four records, dated 1919, pertain to ''individuals entitled to the Victory Medal and/or British War Medal granted under Army Orders''. The four Andrew Auld's are listed by their regiment or corps and are thus as follows: Royal Garrison Artillery, R.F.A (listed as a Gunner), Royal Irish Rifles and the Seaforth Highlanders. The last one I believe to be most likely the Andy Auld we are looking for. So it would appear that Andy Auld did serve in the British Military as a child soldier and left a war hero.

According to Colin Jose, when Auld arrived in the United States he was able to sign professionally for Providence and between 1926 and 1930 he earned five caps for the U.S. national team. During the 1930 World Cup, he played in all three of the U.S. teams matches including the semi-final against Argentina. It was against the South Americans that he had his lip ripped wide open by an opponent.

Proud of his Scottish roots, Andy Auld passed away in 1977, his gravestone engraved with two thistles either side of his name.

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