Village’s football tribute to the fallen

An impromptu game of football between British and German troops in the trenches at Christmas in 1914 will be remembered in a village as part of the commemorations marking 100 years since the end of the First World War.

The replica football jerseys with the Black Burton kit on the left and Bradford City right

The village of Burton in Lonsdale, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, will stage a remembrance football match on Saturday 10 November featuring teams of men and women drawn from the local area.

They will be wearing period football kits bought with £900 from the locality budget of North Yorkshire County Councillor David Ireton, who represents the North Craven division. Locality budgets allow the 72 county councillors to respond to local needs and requests by recommending funding of up to £5,000 to support projects or activities that benefit the communities they represent.

The famous football match is said to have happened in 1914 during an unofficial truce when men of the British Expeditionary Force and German troops in the trenches staged impromptu games and exchanged gifts on Christmas Day.

One of the organisers of the remembrance football match, Mark Christie, said: “The project aims to commemorate the importance of football to front line soldiers serving in the First World War, as many top football players from the time served in the army and sadly lost their lives.

“The original intention was to recreate the legendary Christmas Day armistice match, but after discussions we opted to play out a match between two Yorkshire teams in period kits from the era – one, Bradford City, who were flying high in the top flight of the time, and the other, Black Burton, the name of the local village non-league team. The period kits have been supplied by Toffs of Newcastle and are genuine representations of the kits players wore in 1914. However, the match is still inspired by the soldiers from both sides who famously staged that ceasefire and kickabout.

“The match is being played 10 November starting at 10.30am at Burton in Lonsdale recreation ground and will have two 30-minute halves, with the build-up and photographs from 9.30am. The men and women playing are all drawn from the local area, and there will also be a dry ice effect to create a battlefield fog, a soup kitchen, displays and a match commentary as well as period music.

“A military-style warm up will also add to the match concept and crosses of the fallen from the village will be placed around the pitch. Five soldier silhouettes will also be on display and it’s expected to draw a big crowd.’’

The match is part of a weekend of Remembrance Centenary events in the village, which include two concerts, a beacon lighting ceremony and an exhibition, plus the formal service on Sunday morning.

Cllr Ireton said: “I was happy to recommend the funding to buy the football jerseys for such a poignant occasion and it will be a fitting tribute. The jerseys will not only be used at this event but also at subsequent remembrance commemorations as an annual football fixture.’’

This story was published 5 November 2018