A GROUP of football-loving friends are preparing to take part in their own 'Christmas truce' in York.

They are participating in a charity football match on Boxing Day at David Lloyd York, off Hull Road, which has allowed them to use the venue free of charge.

This is the seventh year that the friends have got together on Boxing Day to play football for charity. The tradition was started by a member of the group, James Williamson.

In the past, funds raised have been donated to housing and homelessness charity Shelter. This year, Help for Heroes will also receive some of the funds raised, along with Shelter.

The connection between the group playing football on Boxing Day and the Christmas truce was behind their decision to choose Help for Heroes.

The truce story goes that on Christmas Day 1914, a football match was played between German and British troops on the Western Front. This was started by a British soldier kicking a football out of his trench. The Germans then joined in.

Guy Jackson, of Birch Close, Huntington, who is organising the Boxing Day match, said: "We were looking for a charity that would inspire people to donate even more money.

"With us playing football at Christmas and the story of the Christmas truce, it seemed fitting to choose Help for Heroes."

He added: "We chose Shelter because at Christmas we all imagine being at home on Christmas day with our families.

"Some people aren't so lucky and have no home all year round. It is for this reason we want to raise money for Shelter."

Over the past six years the friends have raised about £1,000 for Shelter.

A number of York pubs and bars have offered their support to the friends by having donation boxes and selling rubber wristbands and golden badges to help boost the group's fundraising efforts.

Anyone who wishes to make a donation can visit either Harkers, in St Helen's Square, the Old White Swan and the Cross Keys, both in Goodramgate, Punchbowl, in Stonegate, or All Bar One, in New Street.

Alternatively, visit one of these JustGiving pages - www.justgiving.com/boxingdayfootball2017 for Help for Heroes, or www.justgiving.com/boxingdayfootballshelter for Shelter.

The group's fundraising target this year is £1,000.