Remembering the World War One Christmas truce: ‘Silent Night’ at the Crystal Palace stadium


By - Tuesday 2nd December, 2014

Croydon-born football novelist Steve Goddard will travel down from St Helens near Liverpool for Silent Night Carols at Selhurst Park (7pm, Tuesday 9th December). 


Image by Croydon Churches, used with permission

Release begins: ‘It will be a special night in a special place,’ said Goddard, whose social history novel, Rattles & Rosettes, follows two supporters, from Burnley and Crystal Palace, a century apart.

Palace manager Neil Warnock and Prince Philip Kiril of Prussia, great-great-grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, will be among the special guests at the service organised by Croydon churches to commemorate the Christmas truce of 1914. German and British troops laid down their arms, sang carols and played football together in no man’s land.

In Rattles & Rosettes, Burnley fan Tom, 16, follows the club on its 1914 FA Cup run to the final at the Crystal Palace but finds himself in the trenches on the Western Front, taking part in the famous football match on Christmas Day. A dual narrative, the book also tells the story of Dan, 23, a Palace fan in 2010, who looks back nostalgically to a golden age of football he has never known. Disillusioned by Palace’s predicament in administration, he sets out on a one-man mission against modern football. The two stories eventually intertwine.

Goddard, born in Thornton Heath and educated at Selhurst Grammar School, said: ‘I used to gaze at the Selhurst Park floodlights from the top of the science block and dream of Saturday. This is a very special homecoming.’

Dozens of similar events will be held all over the country at football grounds, schools, cathedrals and churches throughout December, using a specially-commissioned, contemporary version of Silent Night, with a new verse and chorus. An initiative of HOPE Together, a national Christian movement, Silent Night Carols at Selhurst Park has the backing of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, who is President of the Football Association and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby.

‘Even in the bleakest of times, Christmas offers peace and hope,’ said Prince William. ‘This Christmas, the Silent Night carol services are a powerful way to remember the sacrifice made by so many in the Great War and to celebrate the peace we enjoy.’

Also taking part in Silent Night Carols at Selhurst Park are Croydon Citadel Salvation Army Band, Croydon Seventh Day Adventist Gospel Choir, Lantern Theatre Co, Crystal Palace historians and Archbishop Tenison’s School Choir.

 ’The event has already fired the imagination of hundreds of local people,’ said Crystal Palace chaplain Chris Roe. ‘We hope that Croydon will be uplifted as the church and the football club – two organisations so central and crucial to the life of the community – work in combination.

 ’I am also looking forward to meeting Steve Goddard for the first time. There are football biographies by the bucket load but a football-themed novel that is as utterly compelling as Rattles & Rosettes doesn’t come along very often. It captivates from the first sentence of the first page, grabs hold of you, pulls you in and won’t let go. Unable to put it down, I read the whole thing in a couple of days. The narrative unfolds in an increasingly entertaining and intriguing way and the climax is not only unexpected but really tugs at the heart-strings.’

Tickets for Silent Night Carols available hereRattles & Rosettes will be on sale at the event.

Release ends.

Release provider: Croydon Churches

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