ALBION’S Under-12s will join defending-champions Manchester United at the Christmas Truce Tournament in Belgium next month after beating Liverpool on penalties in the national final at St George’s Park on Sunday.
The Baggies also overcame opposition from Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Fulham and Leeds United to earn the right to represent England at the competition, which begins on Saturday, December 1 in Ypres.
In a dramatic 3-2 penalty-shootout victory, George Harmon stepped up to score for Albion in sudden death, before young-stopper Josh Griffiths heroically denied the Reds to book the Baggies’ place in Belgium.
The tournament also served as an educational experience for the youngsters, who learned about the First World War and Remembrance Sunday.
The players attended a presentation on the War, the Christmas Truce and Remembrance Sunday, before attending a ceremony at 11am on Sunday, with a child from each club reading out the names of players who died in conflict, before laying wreaths around the pitch.
Albion’s head of education Mike Scott believes the tournament was an eye-opening experience, both on and off the pitch, for the boys involved.
“This was a fantastic opportunity for the players," said Scott.
"Not only did they take part in a terrific tournament but it was also a great opportunity to learn more about Remembrance Sunday and the players, who as soldiers, lost their lives for their country.
"The lads have all commented on what a great experience it has been for them.”
Baggies Under-12s coach Adam Blount was incredibly proud of his team’s performance against high-quality opposition from around the country.
“It was an evenly matched tournament between the sides,” he said.
“In the final we probably edged the match before it went to penalties.
“The fact that four teams finished on seven points summed up the quality of the play over the weekend.
“The whole experience of playing on the pitches at St George’s Park was fantastic.
“The quality has, as you would expect, been high in terms of technique and how the teams play the game.
“The boys will never forget Remembrance Day 2012.
“The memories they have will live with them forever.”