"Christmas Truce" Halts Hostilities In Association Football
25th December 1914, Ypres, Flanders
All over Europe, hostilities have ceased in an unofficial "truce" in national association football leagues for a brief five-year period of brutal trench warfare.
From John O'Groats to Gallipoli, soccer players set aside their boots and reached out across the battlefield to throttle, bludgeon and stab each other.
"It was beautiful," said Albert Hopkins, centre-forward for the Woolwich Arsenal, "This will be the most memorable Christmas I've ever spent or likely to spend: since about tea time yesterday I don't think anyone has dared pop their heads above the top of the trench. We'll be back slogging away in the FA Cup soon enough, so we've enjoyed a break somewhere the mud isn't quite as deep."
Gerhard Maier, sweeper for VFB Stuttgart, agreed. "Our machine-guns lit up the trenches and gave them a very Christmassy feel. It's a relief to get away from the continual threat of death and injury in the Bundesliga."
The spirit of Christmas was felt all along the Western Front as the fierce adversaries exchanged gifts of mustard gas and artillery shells.
"We know that it won't be long before we're back fighting tooth and nail for 50-50 balls, with sliding tackles from behind," said Bon Accord goalkeeper Andrew Lornie. "It's good to get a break from the horrors of first-division football to do sentry duty in the snow."
"I can barely believe that just a couple of months ago we were playing the Germans in an international challenge match, and now we've got the chance to shoot them through the lungs."
It is anticipated that Europe's soccer players will take to the fields once more by 1919.