The festive period has always been a busy one for English football, and this year is no different. The upcoming week will see the Premier League play on Boxing Day, then again over the weekend, and then once again on New Year’s Day – three rounds of fixtures condensed into one action-packed week. This is, of course, a long-standing tradition – Christmas and the New Year just do not feel the same without football. Of course, jam-packed weeks like this one bring the opportunity to ‘earn’ some extra Christmas cheer, by using the bet365 mobile guide.
This tradition has been a longstanding one, with fans across Britain accustomed to watching football during this period of the year, in sharp contrast to those in continental Europe, where football takes a back seat. Not here though; it is almost as if football is an integral part of the festive experience in Britain, and fans would not have it any other way, turning up in droves on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day year after year to support their teams. This tradition is more than 150 years old, so to try to alter it would be folly in the extreme. It is probably slightly better now than earlier on, when football was actually played even on Christmas Day, as recently as 1965, with there even being cases of teams playing matches on consecutive days. Something to think about when compared to Liverpool’s plight of having to play Carabao Cup and Club World Cup games on consecutive days, albeit on two different continents. Nevertheless, festive football has provided some memorable incidents and occasions over the years. There was the ludicrous set of results in 1957, with Fulham beating Ipswich 10-1, Burnley thrashing Manchester United 6-1 and West Brom and Spurs drawing 4-4, to name just three of some truly astonishing scorelines. But even more astonishing was the list of scores from the reverse fixtures which were played just two days later – Manchester United trounced Burnley 5-1, Ipswich beat Fulham 4-2, and Spurs lost to West Brom 2-0! Chelsea have a curious affinity with this period – they picked the first all-foreign starting XI in the Premier League on Boxing Day 1999, drew 4-4 with Aston Villa in 2007, and beat them 8-0 in 2012, both again on the respective Boxing Day holidays! Another endearing memory is from Boxing Day 2008, when Phil Brown conducted his now-famous half-time team talk on the pitch at Manchester City, having seen his Hull City side concede four goals in the first half.
So there is a lot to cherish and remember from this period of the holidays for football fans in England. While it does take a toll on footballer’s bodies and recovery time is non-existent, it is an integral part of the football calendar on these shores, and in today’s age of massive squads, most teams, especially in the Premier League, have the resources to cope with this period of non-stop football. Long may it continue, and continue to provide many more such ludicrous and endearing memories.