Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Boxing Day 1963: One of Football’s Greatest Ever Days

Posted on 12 December 2018 by Tatiana Alderson

Many sympathise for footballers who have to get back on the pitch the day after Christmas, as part of a gruelling December Premier League fixture timetable. While most of us are feeling a bit worse for wear, eating leftover turkey, and trying on the sweater that granny knitted for us this year, footballers are out playing and entertaining us.

Although it is a great British tradition that football resumes on Boxing Day, you would think that like us, the players heads may be a bit sore as the temptation to get stuck in on Christmas day was too testing, and momentum to play might be lower. But, as history suggests, Boxing Day has not ceased to entertain and there’s been no shortage of goals. Let’s rewind back to the Boxing Day of 1963, one of the most epic footballing days in history.

In the First Divison (now the Premier League), 66 goals were scored in the 10 matches played as there wasn’t a single goalless draw. Seven players all got hat tricks, four men got four goals each, and four were sent off.

Fulham beat Ipswich 10-1 on this day, a result that remains their greatest ever win and is only six goals short of what they’ve scored for the entirety of this season. The Cottagers were already 4-0 up at half time as midfielder Graham Legget scored three goals in three minutes. This set the record for the fastest ever hat trick, and was held for 52 years until Sadio Mané scored three in two minutes 56 seconds for Southampton in 2015.

Come on Fulham, we all have a soft spot for you at the moment, surprise us and smash your 1963 record on Boxing Day this year.

Also on this day, Blackburn thrashed West Ham 8-2. This is their biggest away win to date. Fred Pickering and Andy McEvoy both scored hat tricks, being the only match in the history of the top division where two players in the same team have scored three goals each.

There were many more high scoring games: Liverpool beat Stoke 6-1, with one player, Roger Hunt, netting four of them in the second half. Burnley thrashed Manchester United 6-1, with hero Bobby Charlton on the scoresheet, and Blackpool dominated Chelsea 5-1.

Draws can often be the least exciting scorelines, but not on Boxing Day 1963. West Brom came from 4-2 down to draw 4-4 with Spurs, Nottingham Forest drew 3-3 with Sheffield United and Wolves and Aston Villa ended the match with a 3-3 scoreline. 20 goals in three drawn matches definitely wasn’t a day of poor entertainment.

Maybe some Christmas sherry was had by players before the games which produced these crazy scorelines? Nobody knows, but if only this kind of Boxing Day could be repeated 55 years later in 2018, then even more excitement would be bought to the festive season. I will certainly be watching.

Featured photograph/PatrickSeeger