A Trip Down Memory Lane with Boxing Day Football

by Punter's Hero on January 1, 2019

in Football

Boxing Day Football

With Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Boxing Day Football all over, it’s good to know a bit about this much loved sport, during this much-loved time of the year…

Boxing Day – or St. Stephen’s Day – celebrated on 26th December isn’t just a day for the kids’ favorite Santa Claus to catch his breath, but a public holiday in the United Kingdom, European countries, and in many former British colonies.

Coming as a welcomed respite from corny cracker jokes, excessive poultry consumption and refuge from the in-laws, people often turn to enjoy some sports, especially FOOTBALL. The holiday is considered incomplete without watching some of the best players in the world show-off their skills on the field.

First Ever Boxing Day and Inter-Club Football Fixture

26th December 1860 is the day when football fans were blessed with the most recurring tradition in the history of the sport, known as “Boxing Day Football”.

Sheffield FC and Hallam FC, the world’s oldest and second oldest clubs respectively, played the first ever “Inter-club” and “Boxing Day” football match at Sandygate Road in Sheffield, England. The senior side, Sheffield FC, triumphed with a 2-0 victory. This location still serves as Hallam’s home ground.

During the 1880s, football gained popularity in Britain, and the number of clubs increased. During 1888-89, the first season of Football League was played and comprised of 22 games.

Boxing Day Football and English Premier League

The English Premier League celebrated its 26th anniversary on 20th February 2018. It has a whole quarter of festive fixtures to look back upon. On Boxing Day, the ratio of goals to matches is roughly around 2.6, with 582 goals scored in 224 games.

Manchester United leads the winners’ table for Boxing Day games with a points per game ratio of 2.1. They have only lost twice on Boxing Day, suffering a 3-1 defeat against Middlesbrough in 2002, and a 2-0 loss to Stoke in 2002.

Following, is the list of the top 5 best Boxing Day matches ever played in the Premier League:

  • 2012 – Man United 4-3 New Castle
  • 2003 – Charlton 4-2 Chelsea
  • 2007 – Chelsea 4-4 Aston Villa
  • 2008 – Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal
  • 1992 – Sheffield Wednesday 3-3 Manchester United

Most Happening Year for Boxing Day Football

Since its start in 1860, almost every year, viewers witnessed many nail-biting Boxing Day football matches. But the title for the best year undoubtedly goes to 1963. In the 10 first division games, 66 goals were scored and seven players had a hat trick.

Few matches ended up being completely one-sided, such as when Fulham destroyed Ipswich 10-1, Liverpool humiliated Stoke 6-1, Chelsea won against Blackpool 5-1, and Blackburn stomped over West Ham 8-2.

This day also featured a few action-packed and heart-racing draws:

  • Nottingham Forest 3-3 Sheffield United
  • West Brom 4-4 Tottenham
  • Wolverhampton 3-3 Aston Villa

In the other games, Leicester won 2-0 against Everton, and Sheffiled Wednesday defeated Bolton 3-0.

Boxing Day Massacre, 1979

In order to set the field ablaze, usually rivals clash against one another on Boxing Day. Although many such clashes have taken place, the crown for the best one goes to the 1979 Steel City Derby between Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday.

Remembered among the most intense matches ever played, it was the first time when rivals took the field together and fought for supremacy. It was also the last time when both teams met in the third division.

Terry Currens remembers the scene as the teams turned towards the tunnel to face each other:

“You could feel the animosity from the looks…it would have been the scrap to end all scraps.”

Going down in history as the “Boxing Day Massacre”, due to the date and the scoreline, Sheffield Wednesday humiliated Sheffield United 4-0, in front of 49,309 spectators.

The match between Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day, 1860 started a tradition that’s celebrated every year, with extreme enthusiasm. Ever since, football lovers leave all their worries behind on this auspicious date and get caught up in football fever.

The 2018/19 Premier League season will feature 10 thrilling Boxing Day games. So, keep your fingers crossed for some nail biting football action.


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