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Webmatters : Christmas Truce Tournament, Ieper 2011

Christmas Truce Tournament

December 2011

The Christmas Truce on the Western Front in 1914 was a series of spontaneous ceasefires in which British, German and French soldiers rose from their trenches to exchange gifts in no-man’s land.

The French viewed such local truces with a sterner eye than the British because whilst the British were merely fraternising with the enemy, for the French it was fraternising with their invaders on French soil.

To commemorate the event and the mythical football matches that surrounded the occasion (more soldiers heard of a match taking place than actually saw one) the English Premier League decided to organise a Christmas Truce Tournament.

Christmas Truce Tournament 2011

The weekend touranment featured four U12 junior sides from English champions Manchester United, the Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, Belgian Pro League team KRC Genk and France’s Ligue 2, Racing Club de Lens.

The round-robin matches took place over the weekend of the 3rd-4th December 2011 at the KVK Ieper Stadium (in that town) before the final and third-place play-off on the Sunday.

 

The teams in their Sunday morning games

Manchester United and Racing Genk Manchester United and Racing Genk Manchester United and Racing Genk Manchester United and Racing Genk Manchester United and Racing Genk Manchester United and Racing Genk RCL and Borussia Dortmund RCL and Borussia Dortmund RCL and Borussia Dortmund RCL and Borussia Dortmund RCL and Borussia Dortmund RCL and Borussia Dortmund RCL and Borussia Dortmund RCL and Borussia Dortmund We certainly knew we had RCL supporters with us, by their noise

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Learning whilst having fun

Christmas Truce Tournament 2011

Playing on a smaller pitch for twenty-five minutes each way all of the teams played well and although Manchester United won the tournament 3-0 against Dortmund on a cold, grey but reasonably dry afternoon both finals ended up going against the run of form. But there it is: funny old game, football.

Borussia Dortmund – KRC Genk 3-1
Racing Club de Lens – Manchester United 0-3
Manchester United – Borussia Dortmund 1-3
KRC Genk – Racing Club de Lens 2-1
Borussia Dortmund – Racing Club de Lens 1-0
Manchester United – KRC Genk 2-2

KRC Genk – Racing Club de Lens 0-1

Manchester United – Borussia Dortmund 3-0

Numerous professional footballers served their countries during the Great War and whilst one of the objectives of the tournament was to allow the youngsters to pit themselves against high quality adversaries it was also important for them to understand the sacrifice made by many of their respective leagues players.

On the Friday 2nd December the Manchester United team visited the Menin Gate Memorial for the Last Post ceremony and laid a commemorative wreath. They had also been out onto no-man’s land and needless to say kicked a ball about.

Ged Roddy, Director of Youth at the Barclays Premier League, was one of the organisers and stated that: “This is an opportunity for the next generation to honour heroes of the past, and build for the future.

So whilst on the Saturday evening the four teams enjoyed an evening together and exchanged gifts as had happened during the truce the boys from Brian McClair’s Manchester United team were also required to get the history books out and do some research.

Lance Serjeant Alexander Turnbull of the 8th Bn East Surrey Regiment was killed in the Battle of Arras in 1917, but before the war had been a prolific player played for both Manchester City and United. He made 247 appearances for United and scored 101 goals, the most important of which may well have been in 1909 when his goal that won the FA Cup for United against Bristol City 1-0. He was the only member of Manchester United’s war time team to be killed in action.

Sandy Turnbull is commemorated in Bay 6 of the Arras Memorial.

Serjeant Arthur Beadsworth of the 7th Bn Leicestershire Regiment had only spent six months with United in 1902, playing twelve matches and scoring twice. He was later transferred to Swindon Town where he played fifty-four matches and scored eleven goals. He was badly wounded at Passchendaele in 1917 and died on 9th October 1917 in one of the hospitals on the coast.

He is buried in Wimereux Communal Cemetery (Grave: VI C 19).

Private Oscar Linkson was killed at Guillemont, whilst serving in the 17th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment (The Footballers’ Battalion). He made fifty-nine appearances as a full-back for Manchester United before being transferred to Shelbourne in 1913.

His body was never identified and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier 12 D).

 

The third place play off and final

Racing Genk and RCL We had very few casualties The half time talk for Racing Genk Racing Genk and RCL Racing Genk and RCL Racing Genk and RCL Lens won third place There were a few supporters about to cheer them on Looking very tense The final between Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United Guess who has gone a goal up Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United Three Nil to Man U Ged Roddy, Director of Youth at the Barclays Premier League The team from Racing Genk Borussia Dortmund get their medals Winners medals for Manchester United The winning trophy

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