At this time of year, when we give and receive with open hearts, the desire for all of us to come together and make the world a better place is particularly strong.

In promoting that spirit and the belief that small gestures can make a big difference, reminds you of an event which is a perfect example of the power of football in bringing people together.

Ninety-nine years ago, a ball created a peaceful moment among the cruelty of war. Football was the perfect excuse to put the weapons away, for enemies to shake hands, and celebrate even in the most trying of circumstances.

The Christmas truce
The First World War was fought mainly in the trenches of Belgium and northern France. And it was between those trenches, near the Belgian town of Ypres, that German and British soldiers came together to play one of the most celebrated of all football matches on a chilly Christmas Eve in 1914, only a few months after the conflict began.

The catalyst for the game was the lighting of candles in the German trenches and the sound of carols drifting across 'No man’s land' to the watching British. Cautiously at first, soldiers from both sides ventured out of their makeshift retreats. Meeting each other halfway across the battlefield, they began exchanging what few possessions they had and sharing their memories of home.

The fraternising took a sporting turn when the opposing soldiers decided to play a football match, with the Germans reportedly winning 2-1. Sadly, the unofficial ceasefire was short-lived, and no sooner was Christmas over than the war resumed, the hostilities only coming to an end nearly four years later. However, the powerful symbolism of that impromptu game has lasted far longer.