Obviously throughout history nearby tribes, villages, towns and even countries have fought long and hard over territory, land and other assets such as oil in the modern world. This rivalry is always simmering in the back ground and is responsible for much of footballs hooligan element, the cause of fighting in the streets and mass brawls in and around the worlds football grounds.
The friendlier version of this is football banter, when two clubs fans shout and chant “insults” and sing “humorous” ditties at each other, it’s a wind up, a mickey take and in the main is taken in good humour thankfully.
Some rivalries go deeper than that.
100 years ago this Christmas day, two warring countries namely Britain and Germany stopped killing each other briefly after the British heard German soldiers singing “Silent Night” a song of peace and love no less. This had an amazing effect on the British troops who actually joined in.
Men from both sides shouted “Merry Christmas” across no mans land in the native tongue of their enemies. It wasn’t long before both sides were out from the safety of the trenches exchanging gifts and pleasantries and then an amazing thing happened.
A friendly game of football broke out in the mud with green and grey jumpers for goal posts. It was a wonderful respite from death and misery. There was no formal break from hostilities. The men who were one minute trying to kill each other were brought together by two of the worlds powerful forces of love; Christmas and football, albeit for a brief peaceful moment in the pit of hell that was war.
And as strangely as this magical thing happened it was over, the very same men who exchanged gifts and hand shakes just resumed the task of killing each other.
These little moments of extremeness still happen around the world of football even today, of course in smaller ways but just as important to those involved.
Take the case of our very own tragedy when supporters Liam & John lost their lives on a journey to see their team, our team, play football. Of course we all know what happened on that awful day but just like in 1914 it had a magical effect, a similar truce, a mutual respect of old enemies as we shared the grief as one big footballing family.
Our local enemy tribe known as mackems seemed to take on almost human form. Their bile, hate and spite turned to compassion, sympathy and understanding. Even they felt our loss and then an amazing thing happened they (the enemy) started contributing their hard earned cash to a fund set up by Sunderland fan in an effort to help to bring Liam & John home to give them the burial and respect that every human being should have a right to. They raised a massive £33,000 for that fund which was appreciated and applauded by the Geordie nation around the world.
The big crunch match arrived, the derby, the meeting of two warring factions. In the cathedral on the hill the two teams battled for the right to brag, the right to mickey take and to chant at their enemy.
At 17 Minutes into the game both sets of fans applauded to mark the lives of two loyal fans.
At 33 minutes the Geordie faithful applauded back to mark the tremendous amount of money the enemy had raised.
Once again the power of football, the power of love (and hate) had created a little magic. Unfortunately just like the peace of 100 years ago it is short lived. The game was lost and of course hostilities commenced from that point.
Human nature is to fight and squabble, football is just an extension of our wars and conflicts, a chance to defeat the enemy but just like Christmas it also has the power of love.
Merry Christmas to all football fans every where, I hope 2015 is good to you.
What do you think? As ever, we would welcome your comments, opinions and views below.
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