Memorial remembers 1914 Christmas Day football match

Designwerk has created a World War One memorial in commemoration of the truce football match that happened on Christmas Day in 1914.

Memorial World War One Christmas day MDM Designwerk

The new sculpture has been created to mark 100 years since the British and German troops celebrated a day of peace between their trenches in Belgium by exchanging gifts, singing Christmas carols and organising a game of football.

UEFA commissioned Designwerk, which came up with the creative idea for the memorial. The consultancy then commissioned props and exhibitions company MDM Props to create the sculpture – George Barden was head of installation, Harriet Hill created the sculpture and John Deller was metal finisher.

The sculpture is a replica of an eight-inch exploded shell from the site of the football match, which has been expanded to be one-metre high. It has an imitation period leather football on top, which has a copy of a newspaper from 2 December 2014 embedded inside it, marking the day that the sculpture was finished. The memorial is made from steel with a rust effect.

Memorial World War One Christmas day MDM Designwerk

“We wanted to create something poignant, so we placed the newspaper inside the ball to represent a time capsule,” says Cristian Cook, creative director at Designwerk. “It’s something to represent 2014 and how things have changed.”

It sits on a stone platform, and has two cracks extending from the base, which turn into representations of the two war trenches. “The trenches are a symbol that the human spirit can override any sense of conflict,” Cook says.

The memorial was revealed today at the site of the football match – a field in Ploegsteert (known as Plugstreet) village near Ypres in Belgium – as part of a ceremony conducted by federation president Michel Platini.

The local community came to watch the ceremony, which also included re-enactments of the historical moment with actors dressed as World War One soldiers from both English and German sides, and a brass band.

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