To commemorate the 100-year anniversary since the end of the First World War, Andy Daly, Executive Principal, Swavesey Village College and Northstowe Development, played in a veteran’s rugby match in Compiègne to raise over £5,000 for the Wooden Spoon Charity.
“Commemorations for the Armistice have been in full swing for the centenary this year. The Armistice was signed in Compiègne, France, which is where I was asked to play in a veteran’s rugby match with the Wooden Spoon Charity team. The charity is very close to my heart and uses rugby to transform the lives of children and young people with a disability or facing disadvantage.
“We played on Saturday evening in terrific spirit against French Veterans team, the Folk Clowns. This was followed by a dinner in the evening for all the teams involved in the U16 and U18s tournaments and the veterans game including special guests of honour, former British and Irish Lions players John Taylor and Fergus Slattery.
“The names of player’s ancestors who fought in the First World War were sewn onto individual kits. I was humbled to pull on a shirt that bore the names of my three great grandfathers who all fought, and incredibly luckily, returned from the war.
“On Sunday, all of the teams and representatives of the four home unions attended a memorial service at Compiègne Rugby Club. The memorial commemorated the 55 players from the club who lost their lives in the war. Wreaths were laid by all teams and the Rugby Football Unions of the home nations, including two by representatives from South Africa and Zimbabwe. One of the attendee’s great-great-great grandfather was killed in action and is named on the memorial.
“After the service, one of the Wooden Spoon players sang The Green Fields of France. The words are incredibly moving and there was not a dry eye in the clubhouse. The last two verses really struck a chord with me personally and I hope that in the future we can learn to live together in peace and harmony so never again does a generation have to make the sacrifices made by our ancestors in those two global conflicts.
“Being involved in rugby has given me so many opportunities but playing in the Veterans Rugby match was one of the most memorable I have experienced. I learned a great deal about the Armistice and made many new friends from both sides of the channel. It was a privilege to be able to raise money for those who have fantastic opportunities through playing rugby by doing something for those who haven’t.”
But here in this graveyard it’s still no man’s land
The countless white crosses stand mute in the sand
To man’s blind indifference to his fellow man
To a whole generation that were butchered and dammed
Well Will Mc Bride I can’t help wonder why
Do those that lie here know why did they die
And did they believe when they answered the call
Did they really believe that this war would end war
Well the sorrow the suffering the glory the pain
The killing the dying was all done in vain
For young Willy Mc Bride it all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again”