Centenary of Christmas truce remembered in poetry

Thu Dec 25, 2014 8:09am EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters) - The 100th anniversary of the Christmas truce during World War I has been remembered with a video featuring a poem recited by past and present players, managers and officials across England.

Entitled 'The Game, Christmas Day 1914' the poem features stanzas read by the likes of Manchester City's Belgium defender Vincent Kompany, Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny and Queens Park Rangers forward Charlie Austin.

"It's so cold, the lines of this poem are sinking into the unforgiving mud, there is no clean sheet," Kompany begins, before further lines read by 16 others including former England midfielder Trevor Brooking and 2010 World Cup final referee Howard Webb.

The poem, crafted by Ian McMillan using verses written by school children, captures the moment when soldiers from both sides put down their weapons, climbed out of the muddy trenches, and organized an impromptu game of soccer in no man's land.

It is one of a series of events in the Football Remembers series, supported by the Premier League, The Football Association, the Football League and British Council to commemorate the 1914-18 conflict.

Football Remembers kicked off in May this year, with 30,000 educational packs sent to British schools.

It also featured a match between the modern-day British and German military this month and a youth tournament in Ypres, Belgium -- scene of some of the most ferocious fighting during World War I.

On Thursday, hundreds of pre-match photographs taken by soccer teams from all levels will be displayed on the Football Remembers website (footballremembers.com).

Premier League leaders Chelsea will mark the occasion with a minute of applause before their Boxing Day clash with West Ham United while the names of players from both London clubs killed in action will be displayed on video screens.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)