Tri-City United Soccer Club ~ Home of the Titans: Welcome
Tri City United Soccer Club
would like to wish our Soccer Families
a joyous holiday season.
The Day Soccer and Christmas Stopped a War
In 1914, front line soldiers of World War I created a brief yet momentous truce and came together to celebrate Christmas and share their mutual love for soccer, the worlds greatest game. "I never expected to shake hands with Germans between the firing lines on Christmas Day and I don't suppose you thought of us doing so. So after a fashion we've enjoyed our Christmas," wrote an Allied soldier of World War I in a letter dated December 25, 1914.
I recommend that you listen to Mike Harding's single, "Christmas 1914" as you continue to read this post for the full experience. (Just open the link an another window.)
Letters sent by soldiers describe numerous soccer games played between German and Allied forces during the spontaneous truce on Christmas day. Men who had fired at each other just days earlier set aside their rifles to meet in the No Man's Land between the western front trenches.
They buried the fallen, sang holiday carols, exchanged gifts and formed impromptu soccer fields on grounds littered with corpses, artillery holes and barbed wire. Some games were played with balls made of ration tins, stuffed caps and tied up sand bags. Regulation soccer balls magically appeared for others.
"This developed into a regulation football match with caps casually laid out as goals. The frozen ground was no great matter. Das Spiel endete 3:2 fur Fritz," reads the war diary of a German regiment.
The Christmas Truce soccer games have become legendary and have been honored in songs ("All Together Now" by The Farm), films ("Joyeux Noël") and print ("Silent Night" by Stanley Weintrau). I enjoyed "The Truce", a great short film written and directed by Eric Rolnick as a student.
An official Truce memorial was unveiled in November of this year at the site of one of the Christmas Truce soccer games in Frélinghien, France. Following the service ceremony, men from the British and German army played a memorial soccer match which the Germans won, 2-1.
"It was not a game as such, more of a kick-around and a free-for-all. There could have been 50 on each side for all I know. I played because I really liked football. I don’t know how long it lasted, probably half-an-hour, and no-one was keeping score," recalled veteran Bertie Felstead.
Felstead was an officer of the Royal Welch Fusiliers and the last known survivor of the Christmas Truce. He died on July 22, 2001 at the age of 106.
"The English brought a soccer ball from the trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued. How marvellously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it. Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as friends for a time."