The Ipswich Town players never could have known that their 10-1 drubbing in Fulham on Boxing Day 1963 will be recycled annually through a distant phenomenon called social media from now on.
On that day Burnley defeated Manchester United 6-1, West Brom drew 4-4 against Tottenham and Blackburn won 8-2 at West Ham.
A total of 66 goals were scored in 10 First Division games. Fans are still celebrating this festive scorer festival, with results posted online every December 26th without exception.
That was an era when the teams would still play on Christmas Day, with the final top division game in England on December 25 in which Blackburn defeated Blackpool 1-0 in 1965.
Even in modern times, December 26th is one of the most eventful days on the football calendar. We look back on some Boxing Day classics from the Premier League era and see who does the best when they wrap up their Christmas dinner.
Comebacks and unforgettable celebrations
Since the inception of the Premier League, Manchester United have been involved in some of the Boxing Day classics.
It took Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad a while to get going in the first encounter of the new competition on December 26th. In 1992 Sheffield Wednesday lost 3-0 in Hillsborough. But Eric Cantona’s later equalization saved United from a 3-3 draw.
Ferguson’s last Boxing Day foray was just as dramatic when he beat Newcastle 4-3 at Old Trafford in 2012 – a game that saw the Magpies take the lead three times and Javier Hernandez won at the last minute.
United played another memorable game a year later, 2-0 down in Hull City before David Moyes’ side took three points thanks to Chris Smalling, Wayne Rooney and an own goal from James Chester.
Speaking of Hull, their standout festive moment – and a unique episode in Premier League history – took place at Etihad Stadium in 2008 when boss Phil Brown gave his team a half-time break on the pitch.
The Tigers were fighting for a European place and Manchester City were fighting for relegation, but it was the hosts who, thanks to two goals each from Felipe Caicedo and Robinho, led to the break 4-0.
Cue a Brown waving his finger, who sits side down in the penalty area in front of the away fans and delivers a few home truths. Hull drew 1-1 in the second half, but Craig Fagan’s consolation was quickly dashed by Stephen Ireland’s fifth place for City.
Symbols for the second day of Christmas
If you’re looking for Premier League icons, take an unusual look back at Highfield Road in 1999, when Coventry City shocked Arsenal with a 3-2 win thanks to goals from Gary McAllister, Mustapha Hadji and a young Robbie Keane.
Freddie Ljungberg and Davor Suker were on target for the Gunners, but Keane’s performance took the game beyond the guests and also set him up for second place on the Premier League Boxing Day scorers’ list.
Only Robbie Fowler has scored nine more goals than the former Republic of Ireland striker on December 26th.
Thierry Henry failed to make it onto the scorers’ list that day in 1999, but he helped fix Arsenal’s festive troubles the following year with an excellent hat trick in their 6-1 win over Leicester City at Highbury. The Frenchman scored a total of seven Boxing Day goals.
The Gunners are fourth in the Boxing Day Premier League table of all time, level with north London rivals Tottenham – but saw their last real title hunt thwarted on December 26, 2015.
A win for Arsenal in Southampton would have put them at the top of the table, ahead of Claudio Ranieri’s flying Leicester. But Arsene Wenger’s team suffered a 4-0 defeat on the south coast.
Chelsea are just below the Gunners in the overall table of Boxing Day and have been involved in some crisp Christmas games since the turn of the millennium.
The table of the Boxing Day Premier League
Games played Points Winning percentage
Manchester United 27 67 77.8%
Liverpool 24 50 62.5%
Tottenham 24 49 58.3%
Arsenal 23 49 60.9%
Chelsea 27 45 44.4%
Everton 27 40 40.7%
Manchester City 20 35 55.0%
Blackburn Rovers 17 29 41.2%
Westham 19 28 36.8%
Southampton 18 22 27.8%
Thirteen years before he finally got his hands on the Premier League trophy, Ranieri was chasing the title with a luscious Blues squad – but those hopes were given serious shape by a surprise 4-2 loss to Charlton Athletic at The Valley in 2003 impaired.
Chelsea took part in another dramatic Boxing Day encounter four years later, sharing eight goals, three red cards and two penalties with Aston Villa in a 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues ended the game with nine men after Ricardo Carvalho and Ashley Cole were sent off in the final 10 minutes, the latter for a handball on the line in added time.
Gareth Barry took the resulting penalty and scored a point for Villa, who had led 2-0 before Zat Knight was sent off just before the break, allowing Andriy Shevchenko to convert from the penalty spot.
The Ukrainian striker scored his second goal five minutes after the break to level Shaun Maloney’s doubles in the first half and defender Alex put the hosts ahead for the first time.
Villas Martin Laursen responded, but Michael Ballack’s 88th-minute attempt seemed to have won, only for Barry, who stayed cool from the point in the 92nd minute.