—- It is now a century since the end of the First World War. From amid all the carnage of the following four years emerged a tale which has remained a symbol of hope, a glimpse of the power of sport, down all the years:

On Christmas Day 1915 a truce was observed between German and British forces at Laventie in northern France.  Soldiers of both sides ventured out of their trenches to exchange seasonal greetings. A survivor of those Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Bertie Felstead, recalled many years later:

Was this how it was more than a century ago?

“When we met them someone suggested football. It wasn’t 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. No one was keeping score.”

The football truce was ended with the order to the British troops that the purpose in hand was “to kill the Hun, not make friends with him.”

Felstead died in July 2001, aged 106.

Laventie, in the Pas de Calais, is a small town some 12 miles west of Lille. On the outskirts are formal war graveyards for both British and German combatants.

** From The Complete Encyclopedia of Football (Keir Radnedge: Carlton Books)

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