Saturday, May 28

Remembering the incredible Boxing Day games of 1963

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without presents, crackers and turkey with all the trimmings.

However, these are not the only things that make up the festive season. No no. Christmas has not truly arrived until every football account on Twitter has posted a graphic of the Boxing Day results from 1963.

You know the one we’re talking about.

During a truly incredible afternoon of football, 66 goals were scored in just ten games, with fans being treated to such scorelines as 10-1, 4-4 and 8-2.

It’s a great headline but as always, the devil’s in the detail. Here’s exactly how one of the most dramatic afternoons in English football history played out.

Barry Bridges bagged a hat trick for ChelseaBarry Bridges bagged a hat trick for Chelsea

Barry Bridges bagged a hat trick for Chelsea / Robert Stiggins/Getty Images

Blackpool entered this game one place above the relegation places – and by the time the final whistle had blown it was easy to see why.

The Tangerines were put to the sword by Chelsea with striker Barry Bridges netting a hat-trick, while Peter Houseman and future England boss Terry Venables also bagged.

No doubt the victorious Blues headed straight to the pier to celebrate after the game.

Denis Law was absent for the Red DevilsDenis Law was absent for the Red Devils

Denis Law was absent for the Red Devils / Evening Standard/Getty Images

Things have been pretty bad for Manchester United in recent times, but they’ve never been this bad.

Prior to kick off the two sides were separated by two points, but the gulf on the pitch was far greater. Burnley’s Andy Lochhead got the party started inside seven minutes before United levelled things up on the half-hour mark.

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The hosts then took control, scoring five without reply and condemning United to a terrible defeat. Both a 17-year-old George Best and Denis Law – who went on to score 30 goals over the course of the season – were absent on Boxing Day and were clearly big misses.

Bobby Robson got in on the act at Craven Cottage Bobby Robson got in on the act at Craven Cottage

Bobby Robson got in on the act at Craven Cottage / Les Lee/Getty Images

Ipswich Town travelled to Craven Cottage firmly rooted to the bottom of the table, but Fulham were in no mood to offer them any festive charity.

Maurice Cook opened the scoring for the Cottagers early on, before Graham Leggat added three more in as many minutes. It remained the fastest hat-trick in English Football League history until 2015, when Sadio Mane broke his record while playing for Southampton.

Six more home goals – including one from Sir Bobby Robson – would come before the afternoon was out. It was the most painful moment of a season that would unsurprisingly see Ipswich finish bottom of the pile.

Leicester secured a festive three points at Filbert StreetLeicester secured a festive three points at Filbert Street

Leicester secured a festive three points at Filbert Street / Express/Getty Images

Two goals? What a disgrace.

Leicester’s goals were scored by Ken Keyworth, while the legendary Gordon Banks kept a clean sheet in the Foxes goal.

We won’t be wasting anymore words on such a snooze fest.

Roger Hunt scored four goals on Boxing Day 1963Roger Hunt scored four goals on Boxing Day 1963

Roger Hunt scored four goals on Boxing Day 1963 / Ian McLennan/Getty Images

Third-placed Liverpool were heavy favourites going into their meeting with struggling Stoke City and the Anfield crowd did not leave disappointed.

Roger Hunt – who went on to register 33 goals by the end of the season – grabbed four, while the brilliantly named Alf Arrowsmith and Ian St John also scored.

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The Reds used the result as a springboard, clinching the First Division title by finishing four points clear of Manchester United.

Forest could only draw against the Blades Forest could only draw against the Blades

Forest could only draw against the Blades / Express/Getty Images

Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United were separated by just four points at the start of play, so it was little surprise that fans were treated to such a tight encounter.

In the end, the two sides shared six goals evenly with the Blades’ Mick Jones grabbing a brace. The visitors’ other scorer was Len Allchurch, who converted a penalty, while Ian Storey-Moore, Geoff Vowden and Frank Wignall bagged for Forest.

The enthralling contest was a rare exciting moment in a boring season. The two sides ended up finishing 12th and 13th respectively, separated by just two points.

Wednesday goalkeeper Ron Springett could have gotten away with a few more roast potatoes Wednesday goalkeeper Ron Springett could have gotten away with a few more roast potatoes

Wednesday goalkeeper Ron Springett could have gotten away with a few more roast potatoes / Robert Stiggins/Getty Images

Bolton spent Christmas in the relegation zone, six points adrift of safety but Sheffield Wednesday were not in any mood to offer them sympathy on Boxing Day.

Colin Dobson grabbed a brace in front of the 30,000 fans packed inside Hillsborough, with Mark Pearson also scoring to heap the misery on Bill Ridding’s side.

Bolton would improve during the second half of the season but it would prove to be too little, too late. The Trotters were eventually relegated, finishing one point shy of 20th place Birmingham City.

Jimmy Greaves enjoyed a fine Christmas, netting twiceJimmy Greaves enjoyed a fine Christmas, netting twice

Jimmy Greaves enjoyed a fine Christmas, netting twice / Robert Stiggins/Getty Images

Fans at the Hawthorns were treated to an eight-goal thriller with mid-table West Brom holding high-flying Tottenham to a 4-4 draw.

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Unsurprisingly, Spurs’ leading all-time scorer Jimmy Greaves was among the goals, grabbing a brace. His first came inside three minutes and this lightning-quick start set the tone for the afternoon.

Bobby Smith and Cliff Jones got the other Spurs goals, while John Kaye, Clive Clark, Don Howe and Micky Fudge – whose strike was the sweetest of all – netted for the Baggies.

Fred Pickering bagged a hat trick against the hapless HammersFred Pickering bagged a hat trick against the hapless Hammers

Fred Pickering bagged a hat trick against the hapless Hammers / Getty Images/Getty Images

Despite boasting one of the best centre-backs of all time, Bobby Moore, in their defence, West Ham still managed to ship eight goals when Blackburn Rovers travelled down to Upton Park.

Both Andy McEvoy and Fred Pickering netted hat-tricks for the table-topping Rovers with Barry Douglas and Mike Ferguson also scoring. For the hosts, a brace from Johnny Byrne did little to save their Christmas blushes.

Despite entering the festive period top of the charts, Blackburn’s form would tail off badly in the second half of the season with Rovers eventually finishing a distant seventh.

Wolves' 1963/1964 season was a largely understated affair - until Boxing DayWolves' 1963/1964 season was a largely understated affair - until Boxing Day

Wolves’ 1963/1964 season was a largely understated affair – until Boxing Day / R. Viner/Getty Images

The only thing better than a Boxing Day derby is a Boxing Day derby that is also a six-goal thriller.

Wolves’ Ray Crawford was the star of the show, scoring twice, while Terry Wharton also netted for the hosts. Aston Villa, meanwhile, boasted three different goalscorers: David Pountney, Vic Crowe and Tony Hateley.

In the end, both sides would finish safely in mid-table, separated by just four points.

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