Christmas Day football - the history
By Peter Stevenson
Last Updated: 26/12/14 11:33am
The hectic Christmas schedule may be a bone of contention for some managers but – as Sky Sports News HQ's Peter Stevenson reports – it was not so long ago that there were games on Christmas Day itself.
The first Christmas Day fixture was held in only the second season of the Football League in 1889, Preston North End beating Aston Villa 3-2 and the idea gained popularity after the First World War - tickets for Christmas Day games were often given to children as presents.
The idea of a festive double header developed with local rivals playing each other twice in 48 hours, in front of bumper Christmas crowds.
But throughout the 1950s, attitudes changed towards playing sport on Christmas Day.
Transport systems declined, so crowds started to dwindle and the fixture eventually disappeared from the football calendar - the final December 25th programme of games in England was in the 1957/58 season although Blackpool did make an unsuccessful bid to revive the date the following year.
Jon Sutton, Creative Programmes Officer at the National Football Museum, has charted the rise and fall of the December 25th fixture.
“Football clubs often arranged friendlies alongside their formal games, so playing 60 games a season was common,” he said.
“Playing twice on Christmas Day and Boxing Day often led to some crazy reverse scorelines!”
There was another more recent attempt to try and revive the December 25th fixture.
Brentford controversially marketed the idea as "men go to the game, while the women cook in the kitchen".
There were major protests from women’s groups and the club were forced to bring the game forward to Christmas Eve.
And there now seems little chance of any further tweaking of the Christmas programme, with Boxing Day’s full league list seen as the start of seven days of terrific football action to take us into the New Year.