Sport continues to unite people today on the Cruyff Court Denis Law just as it did on Christmas day in 1914 on Flanders Peace Field. Aberdeen is home to one of Scotland’s greatest ever footballers, Denis Law, as well as the Gordon Highlanders, some of whom took part in the Christmas day truces. It is therefore appropriate that these two play areas twin with each other for the next generation to reflect and learn about why we commemorate wars and celebrate peace, on Scotland’s first ever peace pitch. The opportunity to bring different age groups and cultures closer together, through peace games, tournaments and festivals, will be the continued purpose of Aberdeen’s Peace Pitch.
The event started with games of football, hockey and tennis. A local resident commented, ‘it’s wonderful to see the court used so often. It is very popular and its alway lovely to hear the kids play. I live in the high raised flats overlooking the pitch. It’s great to have Aberdeen’s Denis Law here today. He truly is Mr Aberdeen. Thank you for our Peace Pitch, Denis.
The ceremony, which Denis Law CBE himself attended, included speeches from each partner, the Gordon Highlander pipers and a formal blessing of the Cruyff Court from Callum Shinnie from Kings Community Church. Jim Clark, chairman, from the Legion Scotland Aberdeen Branch.
22 pupils, two from each academy school in Aberdeen, then presented the poem “In Flanders Field” on the Cruyff Court before a Peace Pledge, which they contributed towards, was officially signed to create a lasting and impactful legacy.
Aberdeen City Council Leader, Councillor Jenny Laing said: “Aberdeen City Council is very pleased to be working in partnership with the Denis Law Legacy Trust, National Children’s Football Alliance and the Peace Fields Project to offer our young people the chance to be part of such an inspiring initiative.
“While there is often great rivalry in sport, history has taught us that sport is a great way to bridge the divides and bring people together.
“By participation in the Peace Fields Project and drawing up their Peace Pledge young people from schools across the city have come together to speak with one voice. Through the Pledge they have highlighted the importance of having safe and welcoming spaces where young people from different communities and backgrounds can come together and enjoy physical activity in a peaceful way.
“The council intends to use this project as a catalyst to ensure other areas of the city are just as inclusive, safe and peaceful.”
Erne Brennan, CEO, National Children’s Football Alliance, said, ‘The first peace pitch in Scotland is testament to the Denis Law Legacy Trust and Aberdeen City Council, for having the foresight and vision to help connect young people through play, with commemorating war and celebrating peace.
Mark Williams, Chief Operating officer, Denis Law Legacy Trust, said: “The force for good that sport can bring to young people around the globe is well versed and we’re delighted to be forming a partnership with NCF and the Peace Fields Project to further enhance this.
“The twinning of Cruyff Court Denis Law and the Flanders Peace Field will help to educate school children across Aberdeen and lead to exchange trips between the two sites. Thanks to all of our partners involved and also to Catherine Street Community Centre and Aramark for their valuable contributions.”
‘The twinning ceremony was fantastic’, said Alistar Findlater, Trustee, Denis Law Legach Trust. ‘On behalf of the DLLT, it was truly a great honour to sign the Peace Field Project’s Declaration for Peace. I have visited the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium and I take the role as a Peace Field Ambassador with a great sense of pride. The historic connections between Aberdeen and The First World War are well documented. Our generation are in a position to keep commemorations alive – ‘We will remember them.’ It was wonderful to see many young people and such diversity, young and old, present at the ceremony. The Gordon Highlanders added too some great speeches and to the children who read out their Peace Pledge (see bottom of page). Along with the children reciting the John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Field (see bottom of page). The presence of the British Legion was emotional for many that witnessed the Last Post.’
Author of ‘A DENIS LAW SCRAPBOOK‘ and long-time friend Douglas Graham, said, ‘it was a wonderful ceremony and clearly enjoyed by everyone that attended. The first peace pitch in Scotland is a legacy to the great man Denis Law for which generations of young people can celebrate peace through play’.
THE PEACE PLEDGE
Written by Children & Young People of Aberdeen
People fallen assured our peace, to keep their legacy alive on our streets,
Here we rise for the future of Aberdeen, building a city that is thriving and green.
Embracing each other no matter who we are, building friendships from near and far,
Regardless of our difference, we share this together, building hope for now and forever
Affirmed in our hearts are the tales of the brave, giving us hope for the future we pave,
the brave that brought freedom and fighting to cease, we are the brave that can now bring us peace
Community gardens will join us together, providing safe places to challenge each other
To challenge ourselves through physical fun, places where we can finally be one
Establishing equilibrium to balance the world, between carbon intake and emissions unfurled,
Using and protecting our green nation, building a safe environment for future generations
Persevering stoically through the fields, you wrapped us in protection like a shield,
We thank you for your sacrifice and our future you revealed, linking past and present, helping us to heal
Let’s light up the fields so we’re safe as we go, light up the fields to make poppies grow,
Light up the fields to lead the way, to give the younger generation the freedom to play
Enriching our lives with space for me and you, not forgetting the past but pushing on through,
Outdoors will help our peace of mind, to meet without prejudice and strive to be kind
Deliver community trust for us all, providing support which impacts us all,
Upgrading and caring for outdoor spaces together, places to be in, no matter the weather
Grow fields of peace and let them remain green, making the most of our City Aberdeen,
Building communities where people can give, making the most of the place where we live
Every child deserves a space to be free, to interact with others, a place for you and me
Through interests and sports help this pledge come alive, help us to grow and help us to thrive!
In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.