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A day to remember at Saltburn
THERE were, of course, light-hearted moments behind the scenes before Saltburn's re-enactment of the Christmas Day football match between English and German troops.
Allan Whiley, organiser of the centenary event, quickly became known amongst the troops as Captain Mainwaring, such was his attention to discipline and detail.
"Do your top button up," I was told, bluntly, as I donned my khaki uniform behind closed doors at Saltburn Conservative Club.
"Blimey, there's more people here than you get at a Boro match," said one of the "soldiers" as we peered through the barbed wire, waiting for the Germans to call out to the Tommies to play football in No Man's Land.
But Allan made quite sure we all knew that the main reason for the gathering on Saltburn beach.
"This is our way of remembering the Great War and the sacrifices that were made," he announced.
For me, it was an honour to be part of such a special occasion, which will hopefully raise in excess of £10,000 for the Royal British Legion.
My big moment came towards the end of the first half. Corporal Tim Raynes floated over a cross and I leapt in the air to glance a header into the bottom corner to put England 3-1 up.
After our keeper dislocated his finger, I went in goal for the second half and kept the Germans at bay. The record books will show that England went on to beat Germany 6-1.
Minutes after the game ended, a Tiger Moth flew in from behind Saltburn cliffs and dropped 40,000 poppies over the sea.
It was a fitting end to a perfect day. An emphatic England victory over Germany. A glorious goal from yours truly. Thousands of pounds raised for the Royal British Legion and - by far the most important factor of all - the spirit of remembrance had been kept alive by North-East families on a day out at the beach
A day to remember? You bet it was.
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