Belfast Telegraph

Video: Great War Christmas football truce re-enactment in Ballyclare

By Gary Grattan

A Newtownabbey football club originally formed by home-coming veterans of The Great War is to commemorate the centenary of the famous Christmas truce in the trenches.

Ballyclare Comrades will play a goodwill match against a team from Dorsten, Germany, at Dixon Park on Saturday, December 20 - starting at 2pm.

The Co Antrim club was set up when three local survivors of WW1 came up with the idea of setting up a football club as a morale booster for returning veterans.

The Rev Robert Bell of Ballyclare Presbyterian Church - an avid supporter of the Comrades - had the original concept for the event.

"Ballyclare Comrades have their roots and their origins at the end of the First World War. They're called the Comrades because they were formed out of the old Comrades Association,' he said.

"I thought it was unavoidable that the Comrades should do something. They were the most obvious club in Britain to do it."

Mr Bell explained how he initially approached the club with the idea - and that the committee agreed it was very much part of their history.

Everything then quickly came into place: Ballyclare Presbyterian Church has close associations with a church in Dorsten, Germany - the borough that Newtownabbey is officially twinned with.

"Everyone was very enthusiastic. The mayor of Dorsten organised for some local footballers to come across to play in the match - and he's even determined to come over himself.

"The whole thing has really snowballed," added Mr Bell.

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