Why there are no football matches on Christmas Day

This Christmas Day, after eating nasty amounts of food and drinking to a medicinal level, people across the United States will be able to drop down on the couch and indulge in sports.

If three NFL games — including the reigning Super Bowl champions, the LA Rams host the Denver Broncos — don’t appeal to you, perhaps three possible NBA games, with the LA Lakers in play, the same ones. is different.

However, not so for Premier League fans in the UK. There will be no fixtures this December 25th, just as there have been for the past 57 years. The last men’s professional football match played on Christmas Day in England was in 1965, while 1971 saw the most recent round in Scotland.

Also Read :  Lionel Messi’s Last Dance - The Ringer

However, once upon a time, soccer on Christmas Day was as great a tradition in the UK as it is in the US. It, like so many things, was basically born out of boredom: in the early decades of the 20th century, there simply wasn’t much to do when the turkey had been eaten up and the fights were over. Family quarrel happened. In those days, football was primarily a working-class sport, and the holidays were traditionally the day of public working-class events, such as pantomimes, concerts, and movie screenings.

Also Read :  US soccer journalist Grant Wahl dies while covering World Cup in Qatar

Professor Martin Johnes, author of the book Christmas and the British, explains to the BBC: “For the working class, those whose accommodation is often uncomfortable, overcrowded and unattractive, a rare day. Being free is a reason to hit the streets, not relax. at home.”

Also Read :  A security guard died after fall at World Cup final venue – why are there not more answers?

The first English Premier League game on Christmas Day took place in 1889, when Preston – who had won the title last season without losing a game – faced Aston Villa, in what was essentially Liverpool. v Manchester City for the day. Big-ticket games are often played around Christmas, especially local derbies, and clubs won’t mind cramming as many games as possible into the festive period.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus watches Newcastle play Rayo Vallecano (Image: Stu Forster via Getty Images)

Teams playing for three days in a row are not uncommon, with Christmas Eve and Gift Day also often being devoted to games. To ensure fairness, games are usually doubled, so Team A will face Team B on the 25th, then Team B will host Team A the next day. For example, in 1913, Liverpool hosted Manchester City on Christmas Day, won 4-2, lost the second leg on Gift Day, and drew 3-3 with Blackburn a day later.

In fact, Everton played three games in two days: on Christmas morning in 1888, they played a Lancashire Cup match against Blackburn Park Road, followed by a friendly against Ulster FC, before completing the treble by equals. another friendly against Bootle on the 26th.

This sometimes causes problems, such as when Blackburn was scheduled to take on local rivals Darwen on Christmas Day, but was scheduled to arrive at Wolverhampton Wanderers the following afternoon. The second game was deemed the more important one, so Rovers rested half of their first-choice players, much to the annoyance of Darwen having to do the same. The assembled crowd – from both teams – was not pleased with this and caused a ruckus, eventually causing the match to be postponed. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Manchester Guardian reported that a Rovers official’s hat had been knocked off. Mankind.

Perhaps the most famous Christmas Day match took place far from England and far from football stadiums: in 1914, thousands of soldiers on the Western Front, near the Franco-Belgian border, took part. into a temporary truce in no man’s land, including some of the spontaneous games. The next day, they went back to killing each other, but the fact that even for one day the hostilities ceased is often cited as an example of football’s enduring power.

By the late 1950s, the popularity of Christmas Day football was dwindling. It’s getting tougher as public transport becomes less common, with train and bus drivers getting the day off. There’s more for people to do, which means they don’t necessarily have to rely on a football trip for entertainment.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus prepares for Manchester City’s match against Leeds United (Image: Alex Livesey via Getty Images)

Plus, the use of floodlights means clubs can host matches on weeknights, so there’s no need to cram matches on public holidays. The final round of First Division matches was held in 1957. The match was a resounding success: Sheffield Wednesday and Preston drew 4-4, Blackpool beat Leicester 5-1, and Chelsea battered Portsmouth 7. -4.

The following year, only the top three games took place on Christmas Day, and by 1959 there was only one left. It is in Blackpool where this tradition continues for a bit longer, mainly to provide entertainment to beach resort holidaymakers.

It was there that the final Christmas Day game of the British league was played in 1965, when Blackburn visited Bloomfield Road. A brass band played carols before the game and Blackpool won 4-2, with Alan Ball involved in a few goals. Next summer, he will be on the England team that won the World Cup.

Football has not been played on the 25th in England since then. It continued in Scotland, when Christmas fell on a Saturday, until 1971, and continues in Northern Ireland to this day: the final of the Steel and Sons Cup traditionally takes place on Christmas Day, unless on Sunday. So this year, Dunmurry Rec FC takes on Bangor on Christmas Eve. If you want to scratch the football itch, there are matches in Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel and Azerbaijan, among others.

There have been attempts to revive the old tradition, notably in 1983 when Brentford proposed that their Third Division match against Wimbledon be held on December 25 at 11 a.m. to “make reviving the old tradition of husbands going to the football game on Christmas Day while the wives cook. turkey.” But the west London wake brigade didn’t let that sexism fly, so after some protests the plans were shelved.

Very few people have tried again, because these days there is basically no appetite. Football fans tend to be creatures of habit, and in English football now there is perhaps no bigger routine on the calendar than Football on Gifts Day. December 26 is the day when we either pack up and head to the stadium, or crouch with the chocolate and alcohol left over from the day before and spend the day watching TV.

This giveaway day you can watch Premier League football almost continuously from 12:30pm until around 10pm, with occasional breaks to chill/reheat leftovers. It has been like this for years and no one – from the authorities, broadcasters, fans and especially the teams and players – wants to change.

Old traditions fade away, new traditions emerge. While there are rarely cheers to watch live sport on Christmas Day in the UK, there will be some UK football fans throwing jealous glances across the Atlantic.

(Top photo: Alex Pantling via Getty Images)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles

Back to top button