LUFC When Football Was Played On Christmas Day



With the busy festive period now upon us, it is hard to believe now that games used to take place regularly on Christmas Day

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An article I am going to publish tomorrow.

Could you imagine telling the mrs you were going to a game on Christmas Day nowadays.

<b>With the busy festive period now upon us, it is hard to believe now that games used to take place regularly on Christmas Day.</b>

Between 1920 and 1956, Leeds played 20 times on Christmas Day and there were often games either side of Christmas Day on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day, with fans having two games in three days, a long time before fast rail links and motorways stretched up and down England.

The last time Christmas Day fixtures took place in the English Football League was in 1959. Blackburn Rovers beat Blackpool 1-0 at Ewood Park in the old First Division and Coventry City beat Wrexham 5-3 in the Third Division.

In Scotland, the last games on Christmas Day took place in 1976.

Leeds played 20 games on Christmas Day and whilst most games were fairly local, they did include some long trips with Leeds twice travelling to London to face West Ham United in 1948 and 1950.

Three clubs had long trips to Elland Road with Fulham (1920), a**enal (1933) and Cardiff City (1928) all having long trips to Elland Road.

A lot of the games often saw the two sides meet again 24 hours later and it was rare that the same side won both games.

Despite being played on Christmas Day, they were often well supported.

In 1920, Leeds welcomed Fulham to Elland Road and approximately 25,000 fans witnessed a goalless draw. The two sides met again two days later with Fulham winning 1-0 in front of approximately 30,000.

In 1922, Leeds faced Lancashire side Bury. The two sides drew at Gigg Lane 1-1 on Christmas Day followed by a goalless draw at Elland Road 24 hours later.

In 1923, Leeds again faced Lancashire opposition in Oldham Athletic. They drew 2-2 at Boundary Park but Leeds won the return game 5-0 24 hours later at Elland Road.

In 1924, Aston Villa were Leeds opponents. Strangly after winning 6-0 on Christmas at Elland Road, Leeds lost 2-1 at Villa Park just 24 hours later.

In 1925, Lancashire opposition was once again on the Christmas menu. Burnley were Leeds opponents on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Similar to Villa, a 2-2 draw at Elland Road was followed by a 6-3 win for Burnley on Boxing Day.

In 1928 Cardiff City had the long trek to Elland Road on Christmas Day and there was no festive cheer for the bluebirds as they returned to South Wales on the back of a 3-0 defeat. 24 hours later, Cardiff gained revenge with a 2-1 at Ninian Park.

1929 saw Leeds face Derby County. Leeds won 2-1 at home on Christmas Day but lost 3-0 at the Baseball Ground on Boxing Day.

1930 saw midlands opposition in Birmingham City. Leeds completed the double with a 1-0 win at Birmingham followed by a 3-1 win at home.

In 1931, Bradford Park Avenue were Leeds opponents. Bradford won 3-0 on Christmas Day but Leeds won 3-2 on Boxing Day with over 30,000 fans attending each game.

In 1933, a**enal completed the double over Leeds with a 1-0 win at Elland Road followed by a 2-1 win at Highbury.

In 1934, Manchester City also completed the double with a 2-1 win at Leeds and a 3-0 win at Maine Road.

1936 was the first year that Leeds played a different opponent, playing Middlesbrough on Christmas Day and Chelsea on Boxing Day.

In 1937, Leeds played Middlesbrough once again on Christmas Day but no game took place on Boxing Day.

It was 1946 before Leeds played on Christmas Day again, mainly due to the Second World War between 1939 and 1945. Middlesbrough were once again Leeds opponents. The two sides drew 3-3 at Elland Road on Christmas Day before Middlesbrough won 3-0 at Ayresome Park the following Day.

In 1948, Leeds had to travel to West Ham United only to lose 3-2.

Two years later, West Ham were once again the opponents at Upton Park on Christmas Day. This time Leeds lost 3-1. 24 hours later, Leeds won 2-0 at Elland Road.

In 1951, Leeds completed the double over Leicester City. Leeds won both games 2-1. Leeds winning at Filbert Street on Christmas Day and then winning the reverse game by the same scoreline at Elland Road 24 hours later.

In 1953 Nottingham Forest completed the double winning 5-2 at the City Ground on Christmas Day and they then won 2-0 at Elland Road 24 hours later.

Middlesbrough were once again Leeds opponents in 1954. On Christmas Day Leeds and Middlesbrough drew 1-1 at Elland Road and there was no game on Boxing Day.

Leeds last game on Christmas Day came at Bloomfield Road in 1956 when Leeds drew 1-1 with Blackpool. 24 hours later, Leeds won the reverse fixture 5-0 thanks to a hat-trick from John Brooks and two goals from Leeds legend John Charles.

Boxing Day is now the traditional Christmas fixture and only twice since 1994 have Leeds failed to have a game on that day. In 1995, the home clash against Aston Villa was postponed. The tea-time kick-off was due to be screened live on Sky TV but fell foul to the bad weather. Leeds have had only one game postponed at Elland Road since, when Ipswich Town were due to visit in February 1996.

In 2015, Leeds clash at Nottingham Forest was moved to the 27th December to once again accommodate live coverage on Sky TV.

Christmas games had a tradition of being high scoring and in 1963 the First Division was treated to a goal fest on Boxing Day with 66 goals being scored in the ten games.

<b>Boxing Day 1963</b>
Blackpool 1-5 Chelsea
Burnley 6-1 Manchester United
Fulham 10-1 Ipswich Town
Leicester City 2-0 Everton
Liverpool 6-1 Stoke City
Nottingham Forest 3-3 Sheffield United
West Bromwich Albion 4-4 Tottenham Hotspur
Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Bolton Wanderers
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-3 Aston Villa
West Ham United 2-8 Blackburn Rovers

Remarkably, two days later when many of the sides met again, teams that were on the wrong end of a heavy defeat on Boxing Day won the reverse fixture. The biggest turnaround was the one between Fulham and Ipswich Town. Fulham won 10-1 at Craven Cottage on Boxing Day but 48-hours later, Ipswich gained revenge with a 4-2 win at Portman Road.

West Ham beat Blackburn Rovers 3-1 at Ewood Park on December 28th just two days after losing 8-2 at Upton Park.

Burnley had beaten Manchester United 6-1 at Turf Moor on Christmas Day but two days later, Manchester United gained revenge with a 5-1 win.

This season, sides face four games over the festive period starting with the games on December 23rd. The traditional Boxing Day games are followed by games on Saturday December 30th and the curtain comes down on the festive period with games on New Year’s Day.